Marketplaces 2009: Top 10 Takeaways

Thanks for everyone who came out to LA for the Marketplaces 2009 conference this week– and to everyone who followed us on the blogs and Twitter. We had a great time. Here’s some topline takeaways.

1. The vertical online environment is still immature and will actually grow very healthily over the next several years. It is amazing to see the growth that sites like Autotrader and are delivering in this environment.

2. SEO is a big part of any vertical’s success – AOL YP gets 50 percent of its usage from SEO. G5 Search marketing, which specializes in self storage; Teachstreet and will all leverage it. But SEO can’t be the only tool in the arsenal. Krillion had to make direct affiliate deals to get going.

3. One of the biggest challenges is still getting local vertical info online. Google Local head Chris LaSala estimated that less than 10 percent is online. But as AutoTrader head Chip Perry noted, used car have gone from 3 percent to 50 percent. We need a similar migration in other categories.

4. Syndication is huge. It is the new driver for Citysearch via Facebook Connect, and for Oodle across a wide range of services. The open API model, perfected with Google Maps distribution to thousands of sites, is the new standard.

5. Mobile advertising can bring some revenues, but that’s not why mobile is important. As’s Bill Swislow and NearbyNow’s Scott Dunlap noted, the real power of mobile is providing 24/7 information on the go, when you’re shopping. Verticals must mobile-ize now.

6. If you are a platform provider, you won’t do it solely on the backs of newspapers and YP. They can still be very helpful, but they’re not the main deal.

7. The days of multi-million dollar “slotting” deals are gone – especially for established brands. At the same time, new verticals still need portal exposure. Can they deal/partner?

8. Anyone can set up a “TV station” using the Web, and video still beats text and images, every time. Newspapers have made some tentative efforts, but new video providers like Greeenspun’s in Las Vegas might prove to be the ticket. It’s fast paced underground local videos beats the pants off a 30 minute news broadcast.

9. The mixture of video and search is a real killer ap. Demand Media’s bid to be the YouTube of instructional video could really be a powerhouse.

10. The elasticity of social tools and user generated tools can help verticals create entire new programs for advertisers. It is especially impressive to see Active Networklocal event blogs for Dunkin’ Donuts, and Citysearch’s MopSpots blog for hair salons — a huge Citysearch ad segment, albeit under-media’d.