No. 1138
December 13th, 2011

BIA / Kelsey ILM West 2011 LiveBlog Day Two

And we’re off!

Recap of Day 1 from BIA Kelsey’s Jed Williams

  • Companies are partnering even with traditional enemies these days (ClearChannel and Cumulus, for example).
  • Your biggest competitors are coming from markets you can’t even see right now.
  • Being “average” at a bunch of different things means you are doomed to fail in today’s market.
  • What is a conversion to SMB’s?  Calls and referrals are just the beginning…application downloads might be “the next Like.”  Differentiating quality leads from vanilla leads is the next level also.
  • Self-serve is really moving to the front of SMB’s minds.

Gillian Heltai, Comscore

Search is up to 19.3 Billion total searches (up 9% Year-over-year) — Google, Yahoo, Bing, Aol, Ask.  2.8 Billion Local searches in September 2011.  How do they define Local intent?  Place-related results.  Local search growth is decelerating.  But it is still growing.

People are now leveraging portals to get to a business directory or profile page.  Search typically accounts for 55-60% of all visits to these kinds of websites (these include Google Maps, Yelp, Craigslist, etc).  Paid traffic is only driving 3-4% of this, and it’s shrinking.  Strangely, the examples of the head terms are branded searches (things like “white pages, yellow pages, maps”).

10% of display ads are locally-targeted.  Some significant growth on regionally-targeted websites.

Mobile: GPS gets around the IP-targeting conundrum of desktop search: over 75% of phones are GPS enabled, over 33% of mobile phone owners are smartphone owners.  50% by 2013.  Smartphone ownership is already up 50% YoY.  Mobile search usage is up to 26% penetration in the US.  And happening more frequently–22% of this segement access mobile search on a daily basis.  Search is the top activity on the mobile browser–rather than an app.  And so many of these searches are local in nature (movies, news, maps, etc).  75% of smartphone users access local content.  

Brands / companies still seem to be unsure of the ROI on mobile ads — (crazy!!).  Mobile devices lead to a dialogue between SMB’s and their customers…this is both a blessing and a curse for SMB’s.

“Only” 42% of mobile gamers recall seeing an ad in-game.

16.3 Million smartphone owners scanned a QR code.  Half of these happened in a retail location.  Gillian says this is scary for business owners…are they scanning and comparing competitors?

Q: How important is mobile/local branding for SMB’s…how do people come to a publisher website via search?

A: The organic traffic for directories is significantly driven by brand-related searches for SMB’s.

Matt Booth said YESTERDAY (sorry I missed this!) that the typical SMB has $3000(/yr?) to spend on digital advertising.   Gillian: They probably need to consult with someone to think outside the box on how to stretch this.  Business will appreciate seeing all of the OPTIONS that they can engage with.  There are things you can do with time, not money…

There isn’t necessarily stronger growth in rural markets than in urban markets.

Clickthrough rates on mobile: sometimes clicks happen accidentally on in-app ads. CTR’s are high, but Gillian is not necessarily convinced of effectiveness of these ads.

David Sharman – Dex One – State of the YP Industry

$8 Billion Revenues this year across the YP industry.

Marketing choices are so complex for SMB’s.  Incredible complexity.  This has to be simplified.  Dex is trying to bring these under one umbrella.  Social recommendations / engagement / reputation is the next level.

Dex has partnered with a ton of different companies to achieve the umbrella.  Dex’s digital revenue growth is 37% YoY.

YP’s used to “renew dog licenses,” they’ve now been forced to compete, which has changed their culture.  They expect 2/3 turnover in their staff.  How will the new folks be different?

1) Don’t stereotype who’s going to be successful at selling digital.  Comes down to the individual.  Sometimes understanding local businesses is more important than someone who “grew up on Facebook” or who “gets search.”
2) Dex is training via online materials and real-world experience on the sales route.

Dex’s key differentiator is that they have the ability to get technology products to market.

Is the cost structure of a sales force sustainable?  Sharman thinks yes because the margins on digital are reasonably high.  They are moving more into telesales, definitely, however.

Reputation management vs social reputation management?  Real world identities / social leads gets at the latter.

Tools as a part of the new culture?  Are salesmen using tools?  Yes, iPads.

Dean DiBase –

They are mostly in the coupon space.  They largely partner with local/regional/national chains and then partner with content creators.  Relationships with 70,000 local merchants as well–with an 80% retention rate.  They’re testing all kinds of deals and distribution channels, especially mobile.  For them daily deals are mostly an upsell and a downsell opportunity–they offer a complete package of “TraDigital” — traditional print media and digital media.

Michael Vivio – ValPak

They are the “blue envelope” people.  Relationships with 53,000 local merchants.  They are the most cost-effective short-run printer in the world.

Traditionally, they’ve just sold coupons on a basis of distribution volume.  They see Groupon and LivingSocial as educating people to pre-pay for coupons.  This can only be good for a company with as many coupons as ValPak.

Vivio: “Daily Deals have unlocked budgets that merchants didn’t know they had.”  Traditional ad guys hadn’t seen this.  The firehose scenario is bad, of course, though.

Valpak’s reach is comparable to Groupon’s in any given market–and they can distribute almost as cheaply.

DiBiase: They have an “anytime” deal…not a “daily” deal.  Merchants and consumers both tend to want more of an anytime…

“Most merchants are not ready to go mobile…” on the big brand side.

Jeff Aguero and Todd Rowe, Google

Neal Polachek starts by saying Google “has an impact” on the local/SMB channel–understatement of the year.

Jeff now dives in.  Hard to separate businesses and consumers in the Local space.  They really tie together across many areas of Google.  It’s less well understood than Mobile and Social.

“Local is fundamentally about Places” — actions or sentiments related to places.

  • Google now getting 1MM+ ratings per month.
  • 8MM claimed Place Pages out of 50MM worldwide.
  • They are currently working out how Plus / Pages / Places are going to interact.
  • Google is about 10% of the way to where they want to be in Local on both the consumer and the SMB side.


  • Over 50% of Maps usage is Mobile.
  • 250MM users of Maps for mobile users.
  • 10MM Latitude users

The local experience is disconnected.

  • It is not a virtuous cycle of research-find-experience-review-share.
  • It is currently verticalized across a lot of different content types depending on what stage of that process the consumer is at.
  • They are trying to mirror the offline experience of a business at a physical location on the web.
  • Business owners don’t necessarily have the time or know-how in terms of how to do that.

How to get businesses online: GYBO series

  • Michigan, Texas, Vermont, Oklahoma, Virginia, handful of other states
  • Get a free website
  • Get Place Page claimed
  • How to update on an ongoing basis
  • This is the first step of getting business owners “into the fold” of the internet
Better toolkits for businesses
  • Adwords Express, TalkBin, PunchD, Offers
  • Business Photos – seamlessly integrating real-world and offline experience.  Be able to walk inside a business virtually.
Better sense of structured data for users.
  • Usability testing has led to the latest iteration of the Local SERP.
  • Zagat’s is able to break data down into greater granularity (in the restaurant vertical anyway).

Todd Rowe is now up.  He is going to share how Google is working with partners so far.

Premier SMB Partner Program
30 programs, 23 languages.
This website is now on
There is now a partner search engine.
Branding Assets

Product Cycle
Products launched depend partly on feedback from partners–products that can be managed at scale by channel partners.
Findability -> Adwords Express
Transactions -> Offers
Engagement -> Google+ (manage pages on behalf of business owners)

Market Awareness, Pipeline/Revenue
Brand equity of partners is not as much in SEM as it might be.
Google badge helps differentiate that–establishes credibility as SEM expert.
Marketing events, road tours, and speaking engagements WITH Google.

Partners can help SMB’s with Social (help create Google+ pages), Local (Places) and Mobile (mobile-friendly sites, separate mobile campaigns from desktop).

The market is there for the taking (definitely).

Q: What grade would Todd give his team on building partner business?

A: More important is how the partners would grade Google.  Todd thinks they’re doing well on product development, partnering up, but need to double-down on mobile side, create better package solutions.

Q: Where did you start on the grade scale 18 months ago?

A: People were more scared of Google 18 months ago (not sure if Google was a friend or foe).  They have done a good job demonstrating the commitment over the last 18 months.

Q: How do you reconcile differences/confusion between all of Google’s SoLoMo products?

A: Google is committed to reconciling these and he understands that Google has a ton of products.  For example, checking in should happen on choice of product for a user, but that check-in should go to all of Google’s products.  Same for photos, reviews, etc.  Google plans to make big strides on this front in 2012.

Q: At the time 18 months ago, Matt Booth (Kelsey) did not believe that the Premier SMB program would actually happen.  How many leads are partners getting?

A: Todd cannot share quantity numbers. They are working on developing more products that partners can cross-sell and upsell.

Q: Cleversense acquisition.

A: Alfred is in the same vein as granular, vertical, filtering as Zagat’s.

Q: What are you going to do with Zagat’s?

A: Google does not want to meddle with what made Zagat’s successful. They’re not planning to change as a destination.  Summarizing sentiment about a place is what Zagat does well and they don’t necessarily.

Matt Idema, Product Marketing, Facebook

  • People spend an average of 7h37m on Facebook every month.
  • 40 million people are connected to California local businesses on Facebook.
Local businesses are adopting Facebook very quickly–mostly in the last 18-24 months.  Not everyone using it is using it to its full potential for continuous, authentic engagement.

Why do SMB’s want to use social media?

  • Increase awareness of business
  • Acquire new customers
  • Engage existing customers

Connections are much more important than impressions.  Facebook is trying to reverse this funnel.  Start with existing connections, have your best customers spread your business UP that funnel for you.

  • Speak in your natural voice
  • Visuals like photos and videos matter

How do you engage existing customers?

  • likes
  • comments & shares
  • recommendations
  • checkins & tags

Use these as part of your ad messaging across social networks.

Facebook Places
Facebook understands how important it is to tag Local business information as part of their mobile app…it’s now also available on the desktop version as well.

Many businesses will figure out these tools themselves, but a lot of people are going to need help.  How do you help them succeed?

  • Social presence has to be authentic.  You have to connect with your best customers first and they will spot inauthenticity.
  • Post regularly — at least a few times per week.  This drives increased engagement. Facebook has data on this but Matt did not share.
  • Express yourself with photos, videos, or questions.
  • Try a bunch of different kinds of engagement: the same things are not going to work for everyone.
  • Leverage your highest-quality connections through ads.

Q: What are the differences in the challenges at Yahoo vs Facebook to build a good Local experience?

A: Yahoo’s approach was around relevant Local content, proximity of that content to place.  At Facebook it is more about connections to a place rather than content to a place.

Q: What works for different businesses…explain more?

A: Pictures work for food businesses; if you’re a professional service, maybe it’s more about relevant, timely answers.

Q: What is your stance on partners?

A: Kind of a non-answer answer.  They want to make sure that partners are helping businesses be authentic.

Q: What is the best way to keep Facebook users loyal to your business page?

A: How would you reward them if they were walking into your store?  Do you have the tools to do something similar on social networking?

Q: Can a presence managed by a third-party vendor EVER be authentic to a business?

A: No answer.

Q: Gowalla…

A: No answer.

Matt Berk – Marchex

Digital call advertising is the new hot thing.  Mobile adoption, desktop telephony, voice search and lower SMB churn on resellers who show better leads (calls) show this.

Local businesses still think calls are very important.  What’s changed is that consumers have moved away from using a phonebook.  But they still call when they are ready to transact–especially on mobile (62% of the time vs 59% walk-in visits).

Marchex is very focused on quality phone calls.  They can charge more based on good phone calls, where conversion rates are 10x what they are on a click.  They use a number of different criteria to rate the quality of the call.  Audio stream analysis, time spent, whether or not a tracking number is “clean.”

$90 Billion per year in ads are spent on driving phone calls from other media.

Low percentage of Marchex’s calls are recorded, but they don’t need to record in order to get the audio analysis.

John Hilton – Pandora

(Definitely the most entertaining speaker at the show.)  Pandora asks for birthday, zip code, and gender up front when you register.  Nice level of targeting for advertisers.

Lots of cars are going to roll out next year with Pandora integrated in the dashboard.  [Screenshot of Mini spedometer]

Free version of Pandora contains 1-minute of advertising for every hour.  Most traditional radio is 12-minutes per hour.

Q: What are the political opportunities in the 2012 Election Year?

A: Pandora just released the ability to target by congressional districts. Very cool.

Even the San Francisco Giants are advertising on Pandora.  Click to call on mobile devices to sell tickets.  Also click-to-app, click-to-schedule, click-to-calendar are coming.

Pandora has 40 Million active monthly users.  70% are accessing Pandora on Mobile devices.  Pandora is the #2 downloaded app on the iPhone, just behind Facebook.

Pandora is basically the #1 radio station in most major markets in the 18-49 demographic–New York, San Francisco, LA, etc–extrapolating their data against traditional radio stations.

They are starting to do Local events.  2,000 people in New York on an aircraft carrier a couple months ago.  They are in Portland tonight!

Sherry Thomas from Local Corporation

Previous paradigm: Internet shopper used to start with desktop search and end up in a store.  There are now a lot more varied paths to purchase.  Mobile–traditional, smartphone, tablet–deals, discovery, etc.  Local advertisers (including big brands) now have to advertise across a broad mix of channels.

Lots of direct brands (like Toshiba) are showing exact SKU# products and then seeing where those SKU’s are available in local markets as well.

Push networks for mobile ads are also coming online soon.  Localized deals through the phone across an ad network (apps, etc).

Howard Lerman – Yext

Product demo of Power Listings Turbo. People are looking for timely information at the Local level.  This allows SMB’s to update their information on 24 sites.

Information changes too frequently–6% of all business information changes every month; 20% of local searches return wrong information.  Power Listings changes that.

“This guarantees instant control of listings across Power Listings network.”

Very impressive demo…wouldn’t have been possible without their partners.

Q: What about Google?

A: Google is not playing with Yext right now.  But PowerListings does help with Google (rankings).