Tag Archives: Marketplaces

Matchbin Launches Tablet Newsstand for Local Publishers

(Image is of Zinio Newssstand for iPad, but you get the idea….)

The release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab will give the iPad some competition. It reminds us that the rise of tablets has been positioned as a savior for publishing, including newspapers and magazines.

Theoretically, at least, tablets can process incremental per-copy and subscription sales via their download function. Utilizing their larger, touch-screen capabilities, they could also enable appealing interactive ads. The Galaxy Tab is expected to sell one million units by the end of 2010, while Apple has so far sold seven million iPads.

Of course, we are equally intrigued by their potential for bundling in transactional capabilities. This includes everything from the sale of music, event tickets and even promotional giveaways of consumer packaged goods. All of these can become purchased “apps.”

Indeed, a successful billing vehicle has become something of a holy grail for e-commerce, partly driving the $1.2 Billion sale of Skype to eBay in 2005, and the development of other phone-based commerce since then. But tablets, which have additional capabilities beyond the mobile “on the go” experience, might have additional potential.

A lot comes down to is the success of a tablet newsstand that local (i.e. geographically zoned and often smaller) publishers could work with. Currently, for the iPad at least, the TuneKit format has been focused largely on large publishers (and most of these deals haven’t been consummated.) Consequently, the only recourse that publishers have had is to build custom applications for the App Store – an expensive and iffy proposition, especially for smaller, local-oriented publishers.

While other publishers are often invited to participate on custom platforms, they haven’t offered ideal solutions. The New York Times platform, for instance, can only publish that day’s slate of stories. It can’t package “issues” containing historical content, pay per view support or tie in to marketplace verticals such as classifieds and business directories.

One of the vendors that has focused on a better solution is Matchbin, the Utah-based CMS builder. It has been working on a newsstand solution that solves these issues for its customers, which include major newspaper publishers such as Freedom Communications, community weeklies, and ethnic media, such as Impremedia and World Journal. Matchbin represents 850 media titles and services at this point.

Using Matchbin, publishers can choose to support subscriptions (including options for pricing, time period and/or number of issues.) They can also choose to sell by single issue only. In the works are support services for dynamic user-interest matching, classifieds integration, vertical product integration and news wires.

The Matchbin Newsstand supports all content formats – HTML 5, Javascript, CSS, MP3, h.264. It also offers sales of every kind of content from 50 cent newspapers to $5.00 children’s books to $5,000 trade reports. Publishers can either develop custom layouts in popular formats such as DreamWeaver or iWeb, or send their XML-formated raw stories to Matchbin, which will reproduce them in an assortment of stock templates.

While the Newsstand has been developed for iPad, Matchbin is also working on Android, as well as solutions for desktop browsing, purchase and reading. The company also has its eyes on supporting Blackberry.

All of this – coupled with subscription pay-per0-view revenues – means that pubs will now be truly free to start shifting their expectations from print to digital,” notes CTO Miles Romney.

Another newsstand vendor in the marketplace is Next Issue Media, which will open its consumer-oriented digital newsstand early next year. The service, however, is entirely oriented towards Android.

Matchbin CTO Miles Romney is giving a special demonstration of Matchbin’s Newsstand at ILM:10, which takes place Dec. 7-9 in Santa Clara.

BIA/Kelsey’s Parade of Verticals: ‘WineTwits’

Verticals that can engage certain demographics on a socio/geo basis and drive loyalty and conversion are the basis of our Marketplaces research program. A new one that has caught our eye is WineTwits from Happyhours.com founder Steve Gilberg. Three years ago, HappyHours and Lawn and Garden Search were among the first verticals that made us think there was another side to marketplaces beyond the big classifieds categories.

Gilberg tells us that the development of WineTwits started a year ago when his team was fooling around with Twitter to see what it could do for the online wine retailers that he works with. “We quickly had a few thousand followers, and we were moving cases of wine. In one 24 hour period, we sold $16,000 of wine,” he says.

As the site comes out of beta, it now has 45,000 followers. It is currently poised to promote wine more aggressively, and work local channels to promote wine stores, specials and wine events. “Our business model is to create a platform that will organize conversations around wine,” says Gilberg.

The WineTwits platform is essentially made up of two products: “WineTwits Mobile” and “WineTwits Live.” Mobile allows event planners, retailers and restaurants to create lists of wines being tasted at specific events, and build a feedback community, like a specialized version of Foursquare.
WineTwits Live allows event producers to project the tweets on screen, and upload interstitial advertising.

The platform has already been applied in November at The City Winery event in New York, where it was called “Spit and Twit.” The company is also in discussion to apply the tech for the San Francisco Vintners Market event in April.

The ultimate vision, says Gilberg, is to apply lessons from the WineTwits experience to several adjacent products. “CigarTwits,” “RumTwits” and “TequilaTwits” are all on the horizon.

BookFresh: Appointments Are Building Blocks, Not Marketplaces

One way to get into SMB accounts is to take over their appointment calenders. This is an approach that has been embraced by a growing horde of start-ups….at least ten by some counts.

Silicon-Valley-based BookFresh, formerly known as HourTown, has raised $1.5 million from NBC Universal, Baseline Ventures , Hatch Ventures, Ron Conway and others. The 10 person team calls itself “The OpenTable for Everything Else” (besides dining) and is trying to stick out from the crowd with a platform that can easily be added as a widget to SMB sites, and marketed via partnerships with publishers.

Like others, the site offers free basic listings to SMBs, and has developed three tiers of paid services: Business, at $19.95, Pro, at $29.95; and Enterprise, which has variable pricing. Among the myriad features are transaction processing, search optimization and support for multiple staff. The ultimate goal is to launch a directory of high quality merchants.

During the past two weeks, BookFresh has announced partnerships with TypePad, the blog platform providers, and with HomeThinking, a site that offers tips to home buyers while helping Realtors showcase their listings across the Web, offering free syndication to sites like Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow and others.

An example of HomeThinking’s implementation is here. Using the site, home shoppers can browse through various Realtors, review their performance history, and then book an appointment online at their convenience instead of having to line up a time via email communications.

“We’ve seen tremendous uptake of the feature in our beta testing and agents are finding great value in allowing live appointment scheduling,” says Homethinking Founder Niki Scevak.

BookFresh CEO Ryan Donahue, a PayPal vet –an alumni group that includes Jeff Jordan at OpenTable and Jeremy Stoppleman at Yelp –acknowledges the current glut in appointment services. But he thinks he has an edge over rivals. “We’re not a consumer destination,” which try to be marketplaces onto themselves, he says. “We are exclusively focused on the SMB owner. We’re hammering away on the merchant acquisition problem.”

The key to really understanding the business is seeing appointments are the flip side of leads (something I also heard from an SEO coach at the recent TargusInfo Leads Quality conference).. Appointments share many qualities with the leads market, but also have some real advantages.

“It is a highly qualified flavor of lead, with a natural connection to both buyers and sellers” says Donahue. “The critical differentiator is that leads are typically non-exclusive where as appointments almost always are. They also have a high degree of commitment because the buyer and seller are promising to be somewhere. “It is an interesting social contract,” he adds.

Come to Marketplaces 2009 (March 16-18 in LA)

Hmmmm….Save money and schedule meetings with 10 or 100s of interactive local companies in one place….. meet a lot of new ones. Learn from the industry’s top speakers…get some cutting edge research from Kelsey. “Go home and tell the boss (employee or colleague) what to do, where to go, who to see.”

Come to Marketplaces! You can sign up here.

Here’s the stellar speaker lineup:
Peter Adams, President, Matchpoint
Dave Alberga, CEO, The Active Network
Frank Bell, Principal, IT Strategists
Matthew Berk, Executive VP, Product Engineering, Marchex
Jeff Berman, President, Sales and Marketing, MySpace
Rob Curley, President, Greenspun Interactive
Craig Donato, CEO, Oodle
Walt Doyle, CEO, U-Locate/Where.com
Emad Fanous, Cofounder, YellowBot
Larry Fitzgibbon, Executive VP, Demand Media
Jay Herratti, CEO, Citysearch
Dan Hobin, CEO, G5 Search Marketing
Chris Jennewein, Senior VP, Greenspun Interactive
Tom Kenney, President, Verve Wireless
Chris LaSala, Director, Local Markets, Strategic Partner Development, Google
Kevin Laws, CEO, Vast
Adam Leff, CEO, Bogopod
Dan McCarthy, Chairman and CEO, NCI
Tom Mohr, CEO, ResponseLogix
Dinesh Moorjani, Group VP, Mobile, IAC
Michael Oschmann, CEO, Müller Medien
Rob Paterson, CMO, Friday Holdings
Chip Perry, President and CEO, AutoTrader.com
Atif Rafiq, Director, Strategy, Marketing and Business Development, Yahoo
Mike Rutz, VP, Health, Angie’s List
Chris Spanos, General Manager, AOL Local & Search Verticals
John Triplett, GM, Verticals, Belo Interactive
Andrei Uglar, GM, Weblocal.ca (Transcontinental Holdings)
Tony Wills, CMO, Allmenus.com
Anna Zornosa, CEO, Dealix

The Future of Newspaper Events

Events for newspaper industry executives are clearly challenged right now. Today, I learned via Vin Crosbie’s Facebook thread that the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum had to “postpone” their annual conference, which was set for March 22 in Hyderabad, India.

It’s unfortunate. Isn’t there value in having like-minded executives get together and share tips for success? That’s still the agenda for the Newspaper Association of America’s newly rebranded mediaXchange show, which is slated for March 9-11 in Las Vegas. The NAA shows have a lot of value, and they’re a great place to pick up a true state of the industry.

An alternative approach is to slice and dice what’s good about newspapers and other local media and figure out how to reinvent them. That’s what Gannett is attempting by dividing papers such as The Cincinnati Enquirer into 200-plus vertical lines of businesses. I like that.

That’s our approach for Marketplaces 2009, which takes place March 16-18 in L.A. The show features a surprising (and coincidental) number of newspaper vets/alumni who are reinventing local marketing. They include Rob Curley and Chris Jennewein at Greenspun Media in Vegas; Tom Mohr at ResponseLogix; Chip Perry at AutoTrader; John Triplett at AH Belo; Tony Wills at Allmenus.com; and Anna Zornosa at Cobalt’s Dealix.

We’ll also hear from two “shopper” execs who, from sheer nimbleness, may be a step or two ahead in reinventing their publications for the new age: Dan McCarthy at NCI (The Real Estate Book), and Rob Paterson at Friday Holdings.

BTW, can anyone name all the newspapers and/or newspaper companies these execs have worked at? Maybe we’ll have a door prize for anyone who gets the most “right answers.”

New Classifieds Aggregators: iList and Bamboo Ad Net

Local media is so fragmented that its becoming increasingly important to aggregate classifieds from several sources. GoogleBase and Oodle go a long way in this regard – the latter having recently signed Facebook and MySpace as partners for its growing network. But other classified aggregators are coming up the horizon, too.

One site that recently launched is iList, a San Francisco-based company that has received $1.5 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson. It offers users the ability make their ads portable to all their friends who are tuned into them on all the social sites (among them, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Friend Feed, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and WindowsLive). Users can set up alerts and RSS feeds.

The authenticity of users is especially pushed – something that is coming up more and more. Users won’t see the site’s authenticity star until they verify their identity via cell phone SMS. That’s an option that has previously been available on Facebook and eBay (but may freeze out some people who aren’t very familiar with txt messaging).

Another site that aggregates listings is Bamboo Ad Network, which is powered by Travidia, a large newspaper tech vendor. Bamboo works with auto dealers to put their listings across a wide network, including GoogleBase, Craigslist, Vast, Oodle, Local.com, Info.com and some others. It also provides dealers with sophisticated reporting, and promotes the dealership itself with SEO-friendly microsites, that includes lead collection.

“Our internet advertising programs were designed to give dealers the best leads with virtually no effort on their part – just pick the leads you want from your inbox! You get to choose,” notes collateral on the side. “Don’t worry about placing your ads in the right places and keeping track of the results. Bamboo will do it for you.”

Trulia Selling Realtors Unlimited Self-Serve Ads

The frontiers of Web based, self-serve advertising moved (a little) today, as Trulia introduced Trulia Pro, a new “starter” package for Realtors that provides unlimited “featured listings” and “Spotlight Ads” that Realtors use for branding. Trulia claims that its featured listings capability boosts views by four-to-seven times.

Trulia Pro enables Realtors to place their ads on a “self-serve” basis, avoiding the need for a local sales partner. In addition, the service enables Realtors to mine up to 20 additional cities, neighborhoods or zip codes. Listings in exurban Riverside, for instance, could be marketed to people from Los Angeles without busting a budget. Current zip code marketing models are more limited.

Trulia Pro is being sold to Realtors for $39 per month, or $348 if they commit for a year. Trulia says the ads will be targeted to a base of ten million users: five million of its own users, and five million from its extended network. The service replaces Agent Featured Listings, which had been previously discontinued. Prime targets for Trulia Pro are expected to be the 85,000 agents that participate in Trulia Community Voices.