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The big money in local looks to be in mobile, if ILM:10 panelists Kara Nortman, senior VP of publishing, CityGrid Media, and Dev Khare, VP, Venrock, have it right.

Nortman said that mobile is consuming most of CityGrid’s attention right now. And the company’s attention has even helped increase valuations in this space. Khare told ILM:10 attendees that Venrock has been funding mobile start-ups for 10 to 12 years. But Khare said there’s an open opportunity yet to be addressed in local mobile. Only mobile can address the unmet need to offer real-time feedback to consumers whereby both pricing and reviews are provided at the point of purchase.

CityGrid’s strategy in local is to provide platform services that tie together a network of sites rather than trying to leverage single sites. Nortman says the goal is to be all things to all people. CityGrid adds value by managing the underlying data sets, aggregating content, adding budget and pushing out to publishers.

Venrock places its investment bets in five categories: (1) positioning data (e.g., maps); (2) data aggregation including traffic, weather; (3) platforms; (4) applications; and (5) monetization (e.g., white-label service providers).

The ability to develop local inventory that converts into sales well is the holy grail. An enormous amount of effort and money is spent by companies seeking to recruit new customers, but they represent only 55 percent of the mix. Companies should be paying more attention to customer retention as part of their strategy to drive sales.

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