Mobile search has been a growing topic in the local media space and was batted around during an afternoon breakout session on voice and mobile directories. We are still in an experimental stage of mobile search, defined by hardware restrictions, consumer preferences and advertiser adoption. Local merchant inclination to advertise on mobile platforms is low, as evidenced by Wave IX of The Kelsey Group's Local Commerce Monitor (the results of which were presented earlier in the day by Neal Polachek and Jane Dennison-Bauer).
This means that there are large question marks that hang over many of the models being employed in the mobile marketing space. There is a certain degree of rich media functionality being pushed into the market, such as mapping and navigation. However, these are only available on smartphones, which experience low and slow adoption in the U.S. mobile market (although there is evidence that this is shifting). Still, simpler mobile search technologies have been built, based on SMS technology. France Telecom's Mark Plakias contended that in the U.S. market, this simplicity is where mobile local search efforts should focus in the near term.
Coupons will have an important role in mobile marketing, although the panel agreed that this will only work with a strictly opt-in model that involves either a contextual match to an explicit search (similar to the Miva/118 118 partnership in the U.K.) or one that involves explicit preset preferences of the user, where contextually targeted promotions are sent based on those preferences.
User-generated content was discussed in many panels as an emerging source of content that is applicable in several online ad models in addition to mobile ad models. The challenge echoed loudly by many speakers' lies in policing content for quality and veracity, and in effectively monetizing it.
The convergence of directory and classified content is also happening in many markets as publishers try to diversify revenues in the short term, and build robust local portals and "deep yellow" content in the long term. Such partnerships have been formed by Eniro, Sensis and Yellow Pages Group. Genevive LeBrun, VP of marketing for YPG’s Trader Corp., spoke during an afternoon breakout session on this very topic of convergence.
This panel agreed that there are many opportunities to combine directory and classified content online to build comprehensive local search experiences. However, organizationally it has been difficult to bring together newspapers and Yellow Pages publishers, which have different sales cycles and publication and distribution attributes. The opportunity thus lies online where classifieds and business listings can be brought together in search results.
Panelist and CEO of Oodle Craig Donato made the point that classifieds listings are messy when compared with business listings — involving less standardization in listing terms. This makes combining business listings and classified listings in the same search results a difficult task. They should therefore be kept in separate buckets, while being brought together under the same local search brand.
Panelist Leif Welch, VP of business development for AdMission Corp., also announced during this panel that his company has formed a partnership with Microsoft. AdMission will provide a customized version of its Spotlight Ads platform, which will power a featured ads program on Windows Live Expo. Expo users will be able to upgrade to feature-rich classified listings for a fee. This will provide a channel for AdMission to reach more classified advertisers, and will give Microsoft a platform to attract higher paying advertisers in key verticals such as autos.
We’ll provide more on this deal after being briefed on it, and more coverage of DDC tomorrow as announcements and notable comments are made from the stage.