Tag Archives: Verticals

New Vertical Focus: On Demand ‘Maintenance’ Info

The focus for vertical sites is likely to shift in coming months. In addition to regular features, such as listings, many vertical sites will also begin to blend personalized or on demand “maintenance” information with various social media features such as scheduling and reviews.

We’ve seen it with garden and health sites, and also, increasingly, with car maintenance sites. DriverSide and RepairPal, both launched in 2008, have pioneered the personalized garage approach, which links car owners with auto diagnosis and leads to service providers.

A new site, CarCareKiosk, aims at DIYs — Do It Yourselfers. Founder Hans Angermeier, a former investment banker, has developed the site to provide car owners with “how to” videos that are specific to their car make. AT&T/Compete research shows that “How to” videos are major drivers for vertical sites. The site now has 8,000 car repair videos in its library.

Based in Milwaukee, CarCareKiosk has a team of seven who work with new and used car dealers to contribute videos on everything from how to check your own oil to changing the cabin air filter. “Every car is quite different – the cabin air filter on one car might be behind the glove box on one model, but in a completely different place on another car,” says Angermeier.

CarCareKiosk currently has a PayPal “donate” button for support the site, but Angermeier says he expects to sell some search-based advertising. There is also a directory for finding local mechanics, a la RepairPal and DriverSide, but that is just at a starting phase.he real target are used parts manufacturers. Sites such as eBay Motors are stores onto themselves.

He cites research showing that used parts will account for $43 billion in sales in 2012 and $47 billion in 2013. The poor economy might be contributing to people keeping older cars and maintaining them, and also doing their own work, he suggests.

NY Magazine Uses Local Search to Extend Wedding Content Views, Other Verticals

New York Connects, the local “content discovery” project launched late last year by New York Magazine and Clickable, has seen definite progress since its launch last December, according to NYmag.com General Manager Michael Silberman. Silberman spoke to us as part for a broad profile on NYmag.com’s extensive vertical efforts being issued in BIA/Kelsey’s Marketplaces program.

New York Connects enables local businesses to tap into the power of search keyword advertising through easy-to-understand lead generation tactics. Advertisers who sign up get a search campaign optimized for their business to drive qualified leads, a customized landing page and a dashboard to track leads, conversion and ROI.

Initial categories include weddings and dentists, which are frequently featured in New York Magazine. New York Connects makes the multi-category weddings franchise a year round money maker, taking it well beyond the twice-yearly special issues, says Silberman. Home design and spa services are also likely to be added this summer.

Trulia Branches Out into Rentals

Trulia, which is ranked a Top 7 real estate site by Comscore, has followed the lead of Realtor.com and Zillow and added rentals to its site. The rentals section features all of Trulia’s functionality, such as neighborhood information, mapping and ratings information, and filters for relevant searches such as “pets allowed.”

The site also offers “search on the go.” Roughly ten percent of Trulia’s usage now comes from mobile devices. Trulia’s mobile Web site is compatible with the iPhone, Blackberry and Android platforms.

Trulia rentals covers the gamut from multifamily to houses. Listings will come from Independent Listings Services, as well as from brokerages and landlords. There are “millions” of units on the site at launch, with more than 25,000 in New York City.

One advantage of Trulia rentals, per CEO Pete Flint, is Trulia’s ability to assume hosting duties for listers including the hosting of contact info, images of units and floor plans, and other information. That separates Trulia from some of the rentals aggregators in the market, such as Oodle, he says.

Flint notes that 30 percent of the site’s visitors are typically looking to either rent or buy. The market trends are “absolutely in favor of renting,” he says. Overall, rentals “are as large as the ‘for sale’ business.”

Separately, in an interview with Business Week, Flint deflected rumors that Google has been looking into buying the company. Trulia uses many of Google’s features and it would seem to be a nice fit. But Flint told BusinessWeek that the real estate market isn’t strong enough to appreciate the site’s full value this year.

As an alternative, the company is looking for an outside investor that would let employees and owners cash in their shares without waiting for an initial public offering, similar to Facebook’s arrangement with Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian company; and Yelp’s arrangement with Elevation Partners.

Avvo Gets $10 Million in New Round

Avvo, the free legal ratings and review site that has taken on the giant legal publishers that have long dominated the business, announced that it has raised $10 million in Series C funding. The new round adds to $13 million previously raised. The round was lead by DAG Ventures, which joins existing investors Benchmark Capital and Ignition Partners.

The company’s business model relies on advertising and enhanced legal profiles. The company says that it now covers 90 percent of U.S. lawyers. The legal industry is a $225 billion industry in the U.S. The industry spends about $4.5 Billion annually on marketing.

CEO Mark Britton says that the company has grown rapidly, and now has 38 employees, including 18 sales people. The key to winning the new funding was the company’s success in selling advertising to lawyers. Advertising launched in early 2009, with a wide range of offerings “from $25 to thousands of dollars” a month .

Lawyers are always very busy, but can be sold if you understand their specific needs as a divorce specialist, or a real estate lawyer, says Britton. They also want to do more than by advertising, wanting to discuss ways to improve their profile on the site, etc. “Lawyers need a lot of help.”

NEW: The Hot Lineup for Marketplaces 2010 (March 22-24, San Diego)

Three years ago, BIA/Kelsey created the Marketplaces research program and conference because we saw that local advertising was quickly “verticalizing.” Indeed, money and talent has poured in for the new breed of vertical products that would take their place among existing vertical success stories, such as AutoTrader, Cars.com, Realtor.com and ServiceMagic.

Marketplaces 2010, the conference, reveals just how fast the industry has evolved. This year’s event, now under construction, is set to highlight all the major trends in Marketplaces.

This includes AOL’s $50 million investment in Patch.com, and ongoing transformation of its Mediaglow vertical properties (and Mapquest); eBay’s renewed efforts to build up classifieds as entry level ecommerce via Kijiji, eBay Motors and other services; Examiner.com’s big bet on local/vertical content, and its network of 26,000 “examiners”.

It also includes Groupon’s “smart mob” theory of local commerce, backed by $32 million investment; RedBeacon, ALikeList and others’ efforts to remake ServiceMagic-like home and trade leads with social media;Adify and Pulse360’s bid to verticalize ad networks for local merchants and national brands; and OpenTable’s big bet on mobile to let diners make reservations wherever they are.

The 2 ½ day conference takes full advantage of its location in sunny San Diego. It includes rich research presentations, top flight demos of the latest services, and a pre-conference showcasing all the best tools of Marketplaces 2010. Come to San Diego March 22-24 to learn, enjoy the unbeatable networking, and participate. You can register at early-bird rates here.

* Ethan Anderson, CEO, RedBeacon
* Jeff Beard, CEO, Localeze
* Rick Blair, CEO, Examiner.com
* Jon Brod, EVP, AOL*
* Craig Donato, CEO, Oodle
* Jim Delli Santi, CEO, Alikelist
* Todd Dubner, SVP, NCI
* Russ Fradin, CEO, Adify
* Krista Glotzbach, VP, Vast.com
* Mark Goldstein, Chairman, Loyalty Labs
* Martin Herbst, GM, Kijiji U.S., eBay
* Scott Jampol, Sr. Director, Marketing, OpenTable
* Jaan Janes, CEO, Pulse 360
* David Kidder, CEO, Clickable
* Steve Larsen, CEO, CallSpark
* Andrew Mason, CEO, GroupOn*
* Colin Pape, CEO, ShopCity
* Ben Saren, CEO, CitySquares
* Craig Smith, President, ServiceMagic
* Mat Stover, CEO, Local Matters
* David Vazdauskas, President, Local Thunder

New G5 Venture: SEO Meets Real Time Reservations

Real time reservations have moved beyond restaurants,hair parlors and parking garages and are now being offered for self storage units. G5 Search Marketing, which specializes in self storage, has teamed with Centershift and United Stor-All Management to launch websites that integrate G5’s SEO and click thru solutions with unit availability, pricing, promotions and payment.

The effort allows United Stor-All to consolidate the Web presences of 80 facilities in 17 states and DC that it currently manages, while generating brand awareness and Web traffic for its storage unit owners. It is the first of several third party integrations that G5 has planned for 2010.

“Integrating at the point of sale enables us to close the loop and truly track a new customer all the way back to the origination point online,” says G5 CEO Dan Hobin “Our clients like to know that they have a managed service.” At the same time, Hobin says clients expect “full access” to their sites and want to be able to make changes at will.

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.