Tag Archives: weddings

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.

Wedding Mapper Provides Customized Maps, Targeted Ads

Selling advertising on customized Google Maps is becoming increasingly common, with agencies such as LAT49 showing the way. Ads have been sold on maps for hiking, jogging trails, local transit and other categories.

Now Wedding Mapper is taking the same concept to weddings, where it allows couples to map out a wedding trail of airports, receptions, hotels and rehearsal dinners. The free maps can be emailed, downloaded to mobile phones, printed out or posted on websites.

Wedding Mapper, which grew out of Community Walk.com, a non-specific map builder, was launched in January 2007. It has already produced 100,000 maps, and is likely to climb further as it gets a bigger piece of the wedding market, which sees 2.2 million couples married every year, per The Wedding Report.

Founder Jared Cosulich tells us that the maps are configured on a hyper-local basis for 10,000 communities in the U.S. and abroad, and advertisers can target any of those communities, with the average spend roughly $20. About a thousand advertisers have tried the service out. He adds that the micro-targeting figures to be especially compelling for exurban and rural communities that are normally left out of wedding-related media (but I might question that: small town folk tend to know who vendors that they want to use).

Cosulich notes that one of the most compelling things about the service is that maps have quite a long tail. Here’s why: The five person, San Francisco-based crew have created a User Generated directory of 140,000 wedding vendors that can be used to pre-populate map locations.

The directory is given extra context by adding user reviews from businesses that have been mapped. More than 50,000 reviews have been entered so far.

I built a couple of maps for fun, one for my current town (Carlsbad, CA) and one for my college town (Bronxville, NY). I found that they’re easy-to-launch, wisely password protected, and the categories are intuitive and well thought out.

But the map experience is far from perfect. While the maps will surely get your guests around town, the User Generated directory is far from comprehensive. Users that rely on it would find reception locations, churches and bars and airports many towns and miles (and scrolls) away from optimum locations.

Trust me, when you’re getting married at The Crossings in Carlsbad, you probably don’t want to stay in Dana Point, 30 miles up I-5. There are dozens of hotels and resorts in between. But I bet that will get better when the site relaunches this Sunday.

The Knot Launches Local Wedding Sites

The Knot has launched 75 local URL sites as well as several niche sites, including Chinese weddings, gay wedding, beach weddings and destination weddings. More than 200 local and niche sites are planned by the end of 2009, according to coverage in The Wall Street Journal.

Much of the local sites content is re-purposed and put on a template. The New York-based public company, which also publishes 17 regional magazines, has long had local city-by-city guides in the same markets. It has been aggressively verticalizing in the last year, acquiring such life-stage-oriented sites Weddingbook by WedSnap, a Facebook ap; breastfeeding.com and TheBump, a local pregnancy guide.

The local sites feature local directories for wedding categories such as photographers, florists, DJs, wedding dresses, wedding cakes and reception locations. It also has a well used message board (at least in some of the more popular markets).

A quick look at the popular San Diego board shows that it has valuable tips from other readers,such as whether specific vendors provide free chair covers (sometimes), and logistical issues for getting back and forth between a wedding site and hotel.

WeddingBook.com: Will TripAdvisor Concept Work for Weddings?

TripAdvisor was one of those rare Web 2.0 breakthroughs where the power of the crowd created a viral energy all its own (and enough traffic to sell advertising).

Now Stephen Kaufer, the founder and CEO of Trip Advisor, along with Dan Saul, the founder of Smarter Travel Media, hope to repeat the magic in the weddings category via WeddingBook.com. By doing so, they will enter a highly competitive segment already populated by national services such as The Knot.com and Martha Stewart Weddings, and at the local level, by services such as MyWedding.com and others.

John Dillon, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, is CEO of the effort. He told us that Weddingbook.com has initially raised less than $1 million from some angels. The site can win, however, because other wedding sites don’t provide enough consumer choice since they rely on paid directory listings. The Knot, for instance, only has 16,000 listings, while WeddingBook.com has 65,000 listings.

Indeed, WeddingBook.com will list anything it can crawl or pick up via preferred wedding vendors – a valuable source that may have some conflicts because of economic entanglements, but also one that accounts for 20-30 percent of WeddingBook.com listings. Vendors can also flesh out their profile by claiming their page, a la Merchant Circle, SMBLive, etc. Eventually, they’ll be able to add videos.

On the consumer side, Weddingbook.com will gather reviews from users, and provide a variety of vendor selection and wedding planning tools. Photographers, for instance, can be filtered out based on backgrounds and camera format. The site also maps vendors on Google Maps, so that wedding attendees can easily map their route from the church to the hotel.

How will the site make money? Dillon said the site is focusing its business model on facilitating Requests for Proposals from wedding vendors, which include locations, photographers, DJs and florists. Consumers (i.e. brides), who keep their anonymity, will evaluate between proposals that are submitted by the site.

When consumers contact a vendor, and the vendor decides to compete for the business, the vendor will pay fees to the site ranging from $2 to $8. The system is rigged to allow vendors to say they are already booked or uninterested, etc.

“You are never going to solve the problem as long as you have to pay money to publish content or to get placement,” said Dillon. “We’re taking the Trip Advisor approach to this. Our model is to give every vendor a free page and encourage them to publish as much information as they want.”

Collecting on lead fees after the fact, of course, has always been a huge problem for sites like this. How do you know who has been hired? But Dillon is confident that the site will be able to collect the information, and the money — in part, because vendors will be anxious to raise their reputation profile.

“It’s a pay for response model….we’ll actually deliver customers to you,” said Dillon. He also noted that the site will limit the number of vendors from eight to 15 per category so that customers aren’t overwhelmed. Some categories, such as wedding photographers, will have eight or nine vendors. Others might have a ceiling of 15.

“The problem is that too few vendors are contacted,” Dillon noted. The average number of photographers contacted , for instance, is four or five. “A lot of brides don’t do as much comparison shopping as they should,” he said. “As a result, they are overpaying.”

Currently, 65,000 profiles have been developed by the company from both domestic and Indian teams. More than 500 profiles are being added per day, with a large concentration on major metro markets. “We’ll have 200,000 more in a year-and-half,” estimated Dillon.

But when the easy crawling has been done, “the second 200,000 will be more difficult,” he added. It will be accomplished, in part, via the rollout of an aggressive affiliate program with media partners and others.