, 1 Sep 2014

What will apple announce next week? All eyes are on the tech giant as we get closer to its 9/09 press event. As we wrote last week, we’ll probably see an iPhone 6 in larger sizes. Other Rumors point to NFC and a possible smart watch..

Charles Laughin and I sat down on Friday to discuss the product rumors and more importantly, what they mean for the local media ecosystem (video below). One takeaway is that a larger screen iPhone will mean more ad inventory/real estate.

But it also goes deeper as we discuss. In the age of social sharing, tools like Instagram and Vine — increasingly being adopted by brands for content marketing and native ads — are fueled by better hardware like optics and screen size.

So advertisers of all sizes should be adaptable for ad formats that continue to develop as they follow behind the technology and the user behavior. In this case, larger screens will create a supportive environment for more multimedia based content marketing.

Of course larger screens are nothing new and this is one case where Apple is following rather than leading, considering the larger screens prevalent in the SamDroid realm. But given the iPhone’s share of mobile traffic and ad inventory, anything it does will be impactful.

Our discussion is below and stay tuned for more.

Comment »

, 29 Aug 2014

Apple rumor season is in full swing. The tech and media worlds are abuzz over what it will announce at its fall press conference, just slated for September 9th. All signs point to an iPhone 6, given its existing product versioning cycle. And everyone is talking about wearables.

Bigger screens are the clear indication (4.7 and 5.5 inches) from people that are usually right about Apple rumors such as John Gruber. Sources include lots of inside information and simply following supply chain hints, such as Apple’s stockpiling of sapphire (new displays)

Interestingly Gruber is  hinting at an NFC enabled iPhone which to me doesn’t fit the profile, but we’ll see. When it comes to short range communication — the killer app of which is payments and point of sale interactions — Apple has hinted at a different trajectory.

But perhaps more interesting than the gadgetry are some company rumors we’re hearing. Some of those are spelled out below in an email I got this morning from my colleague Abid Chaudhry quoting something he found on Reddit. The three story “enclosure” is most provoking.

My guess is that this structure is a giant screen, or something similar that will enable a live reenactment of the famous 1884 Superbowl ad. There would be lots of good analogies there (breaking screens and media trends), not to mention the symmetry of the 30 year anniversary.

Check out the Reddit piece below. What do you think Apple will unveil?

It seems like in one day the hype train has jumped from “I can’t wait for the iPhone 6″ to “Apple might be revolutionizing the entire company”. Let’s look at today’s announcements:

1) Apple is returning to the performance art hall where they unveiled the Mac for the first time in 30 years. There might be some symbolism in that, i.e. “We’re making a company changing announcement”

2) Analysts who are close friends with Apple/Tim Cook, such as Jim Dalrymple (the most trusted analyst reporting today) are tweeting things like “holy shit guys, hold onto your hats” and “bring a change of pants”. Everyone in the know is acknowledging that some serious information is going to be dropped at this conference.

3) Apple has built a three story tall enclosure inside of which it has a construction project going on. It’s near the presentation center and is absolutely crawling with security. No one has any idea what they’re building inside.

Something big is going to happen. I don’t know what, I don’t want to get too excited lest I be let down, but I have a gut feeling that this press conference will be one for the history books.

Comment »

, 28 Aug 2014

The lineup for our SMB Digital Marketing event in rockin’ New Orleans has got to be considered one of our strongest ever.

We’ve just confirmed our 40th hand picked speakers for the event, which takes place Sept. 22-24 in New Orleans.

In addition to SMB leaders who have previously announced (i.e. from Google, Facebook, Sprint, YP, Yelp, ReachLocal, Acxiom, Groupon, NOLA Media Group, Mercury Payments and more), we have now confirmed a great set of additional SMB leaders — each driving the local SMB space in new ways. These include:

Mike Deluca, SVP, Hearst; CEO, Local Edge
Del Humenik, COO, Dex Media
Stu Wall, CEO, SignPost
Jon Wuebben, CEO, Content News
Amanda MacNaughton, CMO, PromoJam (Orange Soda)
Mike Lazarro, Head of Planning , Perka/First Data
Nancy Lane, President, Local Media Association
Tom Kenney, President, Verve Mobile

Each of the speakers has been hand-picked by the BIA/Kelsey analyst team. Check out the full agenda here.

Will we see you in New Orleans? You may register here.

Comment »

, 27 Aug 2014

Calls are the new click. That was one of the themes that emerged from the kickoff session I moderated at LeadsCon two weeks ago. As a lead form, calls were a common thread despite the range of formats being developed across the heavy hitter panel.

Pete Christothoulou, President and COO, Marchex
Don Ross, CEO, Bankrate.com
Ulises Vazquez, CEO, Matomy Mexico and Latam, Matomy Media Group

This is the latest in a trend we’ve been tracking, where the phone call is getting its due credit as a form of inbound marketing. And the irony was not lost on this panel that the phone — a device that is 180 years old — is outperforming newer and “sexier” media.

Of course today’s smartphone is much more advanced than the first telephone. But it still makes phone calls, albeit fused with lots of other functions. And that’s the point — the phone call is given new life by the easy handoff from mobile local search to dialer.

That’s one of the primary drivers behind BIA/Kelsey data that peg call volume to businesses from mobile search to reach 72 billion by 2018. This has been the theme of much of our recent writing and analysis, including a webcast yesterday (replay coming soon).

In the video below, I discuss the session takeaways with LeadsCouncil Director Michael Farree. This joins the other presentation I gave at the show, who’s slides and audio voiceover can be seen in our post last week. Stay tuned for more on these topics.

Comment »

, 26 Aug 2014

Urgently 4_3

“Uber-ification” has been extended to many local segments, including hotels, restaurant reservations and promotions. How about roadside assistance?

Asserting that AAA and other roadside assistance services have outdated economic models and technology, local media and commerce vet Chris Spanos (AOL, Repair.com and Seniorchecked.com ) is leading a team launching Urgent.ly. The Washington D.C.- area company, which provides flat-rate repair truck assistance rather than charging annual insurance-like fees (i.e. $99), has done hundreds of service calls and is set to go nationwide. It completed its seed round of funding in March 2014, and is in the process of closing a larger, pre-series A round.

Like Uber, Urgent.ly has a free iOS App that contains a motorist profile and credit card information. Customers can easily tap their phones for a repair truck, and a live map lets them see where the trucks are at all times in the process. An additional feature is “FamilyView,” which allows drivers to link their app to a driving-age child, spouse or parent.

Spanos says 53 million customers are currently paying $70 to $130 for annual access to AAA, but most under-use use the services. The more serious issue with AAA is that customers often have to wait too long for a tow — some don’t get served within AAA’s 90 minute window. The problem? AAA only pays tow truck companies $20-25 and they have real mileage restrictions. The low payments mean that tow truck drivers will always give preference to cash calls from non AAA members. Urgent.ly’s on demand pricing takes care of that, says Spanos.

He also notes that people use AAA for a variety of services, of course, such as discounts to Amtrak, hotels, stores, and entertainment venues. “We may put in promotional discounts for auto-related services” at some point, Spanos notes. The key, however, is better transparency. “Transparency is the future of roadside,” he says.

Urgently Consumer Web App

Comment »