Topline Local ‘Marketplaces’ Predictions for 2012

The idea of an online marketplace has continued to evolve dramatically in 2011. With the emergence of deals, we now have full-fledged Interactive Local Commerce in place, in addition to advertising.

It seems that everyone has jumped into the pool. Where Marketplaces had previously been dominated by players such as AutoTrader, eBay and OpenTable, everyone from Facebook to FourSquare to Visa have developed non-advertising (or advertising +) Marketplaces strategies. As we approach our year-end ILM West conference, what can we expect for 2012?

Here’s some of our top-line “predictions”:

1. Amex, MasterCard and Visa along with banks will seek to differentiate themselves from others by making key acquisitions in the vertical and mobile space during 2012.

2. SmartPhones will increasingly be seen as transactional tools for food ordering and other services. In many cases, transactions will prove to be the real road to mobile adoption, more than apps and content.

3. Point and Rewards/Membership programs will evolve for local shopping, with more companies trying to rope-in frequent ,high value buyers as members that have minimum purchasing requirements. The prototype, followed by Living Social and others, are credit card promotions and Amazon Prime.

4. eBay will continue building its international classifieds business, and will extend into local retail via Milo. But inventory (or eBay) won’t reach deep into the SMB space in 2012. They’ll mostly focus on larger retail sites.

5. Review sites such as Yelp are currently one-size-fits-all. But they’ll be increasingly differentiated by targeting and social technologies that better personalize reviews and other content, and move into transactions/reservations as well.