Tag Archives: self-serve

PaperG Launches Instant Ad Production for SMBs

PaperG, the “Flyerboard” provider of cheap self-serve ads on virtual bulletin boards, is moving up the value chain with the launch of “PlaceLocal.” The new insta-ad program builds ads around photos it finds on the Web or select from its collection of stock photos. The ads are combined with reviews, customer comments and other content. SMBs only need to enter their name and address to produce their ad.

PlaceLocal enables SMBs to revise ads based on new entries seen on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It also enables media companies to build ads on spec when they go on sales calls. It also enables still photos to have video-like “pan” capabilities, aka as the “Ken Burns effect.” Ads can also rotate testimonials that it finds on review sites.

PaperG CEO Victor Wong notes that PlaceLocal’s ad fees vary widely, based on publisher. But he notes that PaperG is aiming for about $1,000 a month, or more than double the $400 or so that Flyerboard typically yields. The new effort places PaperG more directly in competition with Seattle-based AdReady, which provides advertisers with hundreds of tested stock templates, and then places media for them. Wong also said that he expects some partners to use both products to appeal to different levels of SMB advertisers.

Hearst TV stations are among the first to try out the tech, deploying it on 29 websites. PlaceLocal has also been deployed on 32 additional local media Web sites (i.e. TimeOut New York). McClatchy newspapers are also set to launch it in some markets.

Wong also notes that the company, a Yale University entrepreneurial program, is moving from New Haven to San Francisco. It has 10-20 employees, and has raised over $1 million.

Local Mobile Coupons: Analog Analytics Pushes Publisher Solution

Coupons are hot in a down economy, and printable online coupons –and even mobile coupons –are gaining share in the coupons business. But local SMBs aren’t always in on the game, as coupon sites frequently gravitate towards one stop national accounts.

Now, Analog Analytics, a San Diego based vendor, is pushing a clever mobile solution that allows online local publishers to feature display ads that have SMS promotion codes built in. Consumers show the coupon on their phones to retailers for conversion.

Use of the mobile coupon provides complete analytics (impressions, click-thru rates, texts, email and conversions). Among the 850 publishers currently working with the solution are Media News Group, Village Voice Media, Local.com, Wick Communications, Freedom Interactive and The San Diego Reader. More than 25,000 ads are being supported, and the company has just expanded beyond the U.S. with a new Australian operation. Chinese operations are currently being eyed.

Company founder Ken Kalb, a longtime search vet, says the mobile coupon solution is the natural successor to low click display campaigns. The engagement of a local promotion typically boosts click-thru rates by two-to-10 percent – 10 times higher than national online ads. Revenues might see a 20-30 percent boost within six weeks of launching.

Kalb notes that the coupons are sold via local sales forces, or alternatively, via a self serve platform. Affiliate marketing programs from other online coupon companies just aren’t a good alternative, he says. They typically pay just three cents per click. They also don’t offer much support for local advertisers in terms of analytics or upsells.

In fact, Analog’s self-serve platform also offers an upsell gift certificate program, which brings in immediate revenue for advertiser and publisher alike; as well as the “Bigger, Better Deal,” a daily promotion special. It also encourages frequent updating of ad copy and promotions. The platform also enables the development of opt-in marketing lists.

Is it too soon for mobile coupons on a mass media basis? It might be. As a backup, Analog Analytics does support print-out options. But this solution is an interesting one that might bring a source of renewed interest for local media companies. They continue to bring in more eyeballs than other media on their websites, but often have a hard time proving their value.

Analog Analytics CEO Ken Kalb is a featured speaker at Marketplaces 2010. He’s on the “Back to Square One: Refocus on Revenues” panel with Adicio CRO Tony Lee and Matchbin CEO Reed Brown.

AlikeList Launches Self-Serve ‘Minute Ads’ for SMBs

Self-serve ads will bring the SMB masses to the Web. But they haven’t made much of a dent in SMB advertising at this point. That hasn’t stopped a rush of new self-serve products coming out, several married to social media features. The latest is “minute ads” from AlikeList, one of the new crop of social/directory plays that also includes RedBeacon, ThumbTack, HelpHive, PriceLocal, Center’d and many others.

AlikeList’s Minute Ads allow business owners to create and publish offers on the fly, and change the offers as often as they like. They can be sent out to consumers that specifically request recommendations for a specific type of provider (i.e. plumber).

The Minute Ads are part of Alikelist’s “Business Central” platform, which is being priced at $19.99 a month. Included in the subscription is a “PromoSite,” along with presence and reputation management capabilities that enable customers to see how many people have “liked” or “want to try” their business, or who have clicked to their Web site or phone number.

CEO Jim Delli Santi believes that ALikeList’s like-only platform is highly differentiated from simple reviews and ratings sites (i.e. Yelp and Citysearch). “Review sites are more like media companies broadcasting review content generated from consumers,” says Delli Santi.

In theory, the site also does away with the “volume” problem of not enough reviews on a social site by letting users see “likes” from their friends, friends of friends, and then also from all over the Web.

By focusing only on “likes,” it also skims off the negative reviews. That obviously has pros and cons. I tend to like negative reviews because they provide nuance and important warning signs and make for entertaining reading. But negative reviews may also be the work of consumer vigilantes, and they don’t necessarily help people quickly find a business that they want to use.

AlikeList CEO Jim Delli Santi is speaking at Marketplaces 2010 on a hot session with RedBeacon CEO Ethan Anderson and Reply.com COO Sean Fox.

Marchex Dives into Self-Serve

Self-serve ad solutions aren’t a major part of the ad universe today. A recent BIA Kelsey survey found few companies selling more than 10 percent of their SMB advertising via online. But self-serve meets of the needs of certain online-oriented categories. And for economic reasons, of course – they are far cheaper to execute than premise sales — they remain the Holy Grail for pushing SMB sales.

Marchex, a sales facilitator for local advertising, has read the writing on the wall and today, announced a suite of self-serve products. “Historically, we’ve worked with directory companies, cable and newspapers looking to add search to a suite of products. Most sell via feet on the street “ notes Brooks McMahon, VP for Marchex Connect. But SMBs are now interacting with lots of different kinds of companies. Seventy-five percent of conversations involve some sort of self-serve component, he says. “We are making sure we have products that support different constituents.”

Among categories that McMahon believes will initially use its self serve solutions are SMB creative services, domain registrars and office supply firms. “Online business services like Staples, OfficeMax and Costco are doing a lot more online,” he says.

One reseller relationship that is especially bullish on self-serve is Dun & Bradstreet. “D&B is actively reselling search marketing to their customers through an online self serve portal that we have white labeled for them and provide full support for,” says McMahon. The portal works for both online and telesales.

McMahon also expects some of its directory partners, which include AT&T and YPG of Canada, to augment their premise sales with self-serve. “There is room for both in the companies that we serve,” he says. “The cost structures are different than with feet on the street.”

MySpace Kicks Off Self Serve Advertising

Fox Interactive Media’s MySpace is seeking to jumpstart local and small business advertising by launching its homegrown Self-Serve Ad Service. Initial advertisers are likely to be rock bands – the first major segment to have adopted MySpace itself — but the service hopes to move up the food chain as time goes on.

Fox is making several dozen templates available for do-it-yourselfers. In this regard, it is similar to AdReady, which provides white label service to The New York Times Co. and WhitePages.com. Advertisers can also use their own art work. Targeting is also available by gender, age, region, city/state, and interests.

Newly released Kelsey Group research shows that 41 percent of small businesses say they would like to use self-serve in lieu of salespeople. But professional local ad sellers –especially on the Yellow Pages side — remain skeptical that people would actually be willing to use self serve for renewals, upsells, etc. (I think they will).

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.

AOL Reinvesting in Local Products

AOL may have trouble on several fronts, but it still gets millions of users and it intends to fully leverage them at the local level, per Chris Spanos, Director of Search Verticals, who was speaking at Kelsey Seattle. “Given its scale, local just hasn’t been getting fair share.”

Spanos says the local products will be receiving people, money and time. There will also be vertical investment in autos, travel and health. Previous regimes didn’t see rich opportunities in local and under-invested in the local products, he notes. They also didn’t leverage the relationship between the local sites and Mapquest, which remains the #1 mapping site. But that will change, especially as the city guides and Yellow Pages get relaunched.

AOL is also going to transform its sales effort. While dedicated local sales won’t be brought back, circa late 1990s, new self-serve and partnership efforts will be introduced.