, 26 Jan 2015

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Search strategies continue to shift as more and more activity comes through the mobile front door. Google launched Enhanced Campaigns to tackle that reality, while Google Now is a play at push-based content.

In a presentation last week, I went through these and other factors that define the current state of mobile search. This includes trend analysis, as well as tactics and tangible takeaways for mobile search campaigns.

Anyone interested in the presentation (first given at Mobile Marketer’s FirstLook conference) can view it below. It includes slides and audio voiceover. For easier digestibility and navigation, the chapter links are also below.

Presentation Chapter Links 

By the numbers
It’s all about offline
Search vs. discovery
Mobile search ad tactics


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, 23 Jan 2015

LCM logo

One big trend we are seeing in our Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) findings is that low-spending SMBs are taking advantage of the lower price levels of digital and social media and reducing their overall ad spend. This has big implications for traditional media sellers as well as pure plays trying to find the right go to market strategy to reach smaller spenders at scale.

LCM tracks low-spending and high-spending SMBs separately. We call the low-spending SMBs “Core SMBs”, and define them as those spending less than $25,000 annually on advertising and promotion. In Wave 18, we saw a continuation of the downward pull on ad spending by Core SMBs due to the lower price points of digital media in general and social media in particular. We detail these findings in a new report, “LCM 18: Advertising Trends of Core SMBs,” available to BIA/Kelsey clients.

At around $2,500, average media spend by Core SMBs is down around 17 percent from the $3,000 average spend in 2011. We’re clearly seeing a de-emphasis on paid media, in favor of social media and other ways to engage customers, a trend that became apparent a year ago, in the LCM Wave 17 findings.

With Core SMBs, digital media, particularly social media, showed strength across the board. Core SMBs indicated bold intentions to increase spending on digital media. Social media achieved new heights in reach (69 percent) and spend (25 percent of total spend).

When asked about service models, 48.3 percent of Core SMBs said they preferred the “Do-it-myself” model, as opposed to the “Do-it-with-me” or “Do-it-for-me” models. This strong reading is a key message for companies serving the lower range of the SMB market.

In the section of the LCM survey about channels, we explored several behaviors and attitudes. For instance, we saw a big increase in Core SMBs concentrating their online ad purchases through a single channel. A record 82 percent of Core SMBs report using only one channel for purchasing online ad products. (Note: This metric considers “Do-it-myself” a channel).

At the same time, we also saw numerous differences between Core SMBs and high-spending SMBs. For example, there’s a huge gap in the usage level of online services. Only 12 percent of Core SMBs use some type of CRM system, compared to a full 50 percent of high-spending SMBs. Evaluated along with other data from the LCM survey, findings like this are crucial for companies serving the lower range of the SMB market.

Clients of the BIA/Kelsey Advisory Services can find the full report here. Interested in an excerpt? Download one here.

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, 22 Jan 2015

We live in a multi-screen world, where an action begun on one device is often completed on another. Marketers are eager to follow a consumer all the way along this cross-device chain of actions. That’s the cross-device retargeting challenge, and YP has entered the game with a new product, aptly named Cross Device Retargeting, that helps brands do just that.

According to comscore data from a survey that YP commissioned, 73 percent of YP searchers switch devices to complete local business searches.

YP is working with Tapad to power Cross Device Retargeting, which enables advertisers to begin serving messages to consumers wherever they start a search, and as they switch devices, they can continue targeting that consumer, across desktop and mobile websites and within apps.

“National brands are trying to focus beyond location to precise behaviors,” said David Lebow, Chief Revenue Officer at YP, in a statement. “With cross device retargeting, we now have the ability to reach consumers at critical moments in the purchase process no matter the device they’re using.”

Retargeting is increasingly critical to marketers. One survey conducted jointly by Adroll (a retargeting company) and Qualtrics found that the share of marketers that report spending 10 to 50 percent of their budget on retargeting rose from 53 percent in 2013 to 71 percent last year. Budgets are going up because retargeting works. According to the same survey, “92 percent of marketers report retargeting performs equal to or better than search, 91 percent equal to or better than email, and 92 percent equal to or better than other display.”

The larger context here is of course the shift from desktop to mobile search. In recognition of that trend, for example, Google tested out a desktop to mobile retargeting product last year.

Speaking of Google, YP recently earned the search giant’s 2014 North America Premier SMB Partner (PSP) Award for “Highest Growth.” This award recognizes the Google partner with the highest new AdWords revenue from new accounts. YP touches about a half million SMB advertisers with its various print, desktop and mobile products.

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, 22 Jan 2015

Mobile payments won’t take over the universe in 2015, as the tech media would have you believe. But it will have a noticeable impact on our favorite new topic: On demand local services (ODLS), a la Uber.

That’s where mobile payments’ physical barriers (i.e. point of sale compatibility) don’t exist. Think of it like in-app payments but for local services fulfilled offline — everything from walking your dog to getting a ride somewhere.

Apple Pay could unleash this already quickly developing area by creating a single point of entry for payment authentication. That makes it easier than dealing with separate payment systems for several ODLS apps.

We tackled this topic in the opening analyst roundtable of our Interactive Local Media conference last month in San Francisco. The video is below for the mobile payments segment. The rest of the roundtable is coming soon.

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, 21 Jan 2015

A sea change in home repair habits is occurring, as consumer segments begin to shift from Do It Yourself to Do it For Me models where people are seeking professionals to do everything from changing light bulbs to building decks. As Home Depot Silicon Valley head Anthony Roddio noted at our ILM 2014 event in December, “The market is ripe but no one is there yet.”

To date, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor (formerly ServiceMagic) have been the ones to beat in the home repair online marketplace. But relative newcomers such as Home Depot (Red Beacon), Pro.com, Handy, HomeJoy, Serviz and Thumbtack are also revving it up. Looming in the background are skunkworks from giant “directory” players such as Amazon.

Home Advisor and Serviz have recently talked to us about their respective approaches. In fact, HomeAdvisor has just formally announced its entry into on demand scheduling for contractors; a new model that will complement its traditional model of providing several referrals in which consumers have to pick and choose, schedule and call themselves.

To HomeAdvisor CEO Chris Terrill, the demand for scheduling vetted professionals at pre-set prices is something that may develop over a period of time. It won’t cause a sudden change in business models. But it will serve two key functions: attracting new customers outside of the company’s traditional 35-60 year old customer set; and begin the process of repositioning the company as a comprehensive provider of information and services for home repair.

“We are building a robust marketplace,” he says. “We have tools that work for pros. If pros want to pay the company to book services for them, fine. If they want to pay for advertising, fine.”

Terrill notes that On Demand scheduling has been in a test mode in several cities. It will now be rolled out nationwide, but won’t receive dedicated marketing - at least, at first. It will mostly remain under the radar in pilot/learn model for three or four months. “We’ll expose people to it as they come in,” he says.

He also expresses confidence that the company’s ability to scale scheduled services will prove to be its ace in the hole. As a longtime leader in the space, HomeAdvisor has the most robust cost guide with real prices for each geo market, he said . It is not survey data. We do it at scale. A lot of people are introducing similar services, but they are not very satisfactory because they can’t meet the demands in each market, he says.

Serviz CEO Zorik Gordon – who formerly served as CEO of ReachLocal — notes that his focus is entirely on creative on demand home services, rather than a marketplace.Serviz, which has 20 plus employees at headquarters, in addition to about 100 technicians, has recently raised a $12.5 Million Series B equity financing round led by PointGuard Ventures.  With the money, Serviz will expand beyond its five core categories. More critically, it will also expand its operations beyond its home base of the Los Angeles and Orange County markets.

The key to its success will be to provide super-efficient, mobile-based services that allow booking and buying to be completed in 30 seconds, says Gordon. Another key: focus on the transparency of pricing, enabling independents to lower their pricing for high-end services in return for more business. Under the Serviz model, Gordon claims that all prices are “substantially lower” than existing home service companies.

“We are taking an Amazon-like approach of being a real price disruptor,” says Gordon. “We are building a horizontal platform around higher end home services such as HVAC and electrical work.”

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