The convergence of ‘local-local’ and ‘national-local
AAA, Aflac, AutoTrader, Balihoo, Living Social, Fourquare, LocalVox, Two Men and a Truck, Yodle, YP were among the big names crowding the stage on Day 1. A number of key themes emerged. One is the amount of creativity being applied to the national-local challenge, which came through in the talk from Living Social’s Mitch Spolan. Another is the degree to which technology and automation are helping solve the inherent scale issues involved in national to local. This theme came through loud and clear in the “Local Imperative” Superforum and the Leading in Local Demos.
Here are some of the “aha” moments from yesterday’s sessions.
Before the Bell Insight Session: Local Search and the Keys to Discovery
This pre-conference session was probably the most SMB focused conversation of the event so far. The discussion honed in on the challenges and opportunities in local search. Some key moments:
Trevor Sumner, CEO, LocalVox talked about the confusion in the local search marketplace and how daunting it is for small-businesses. “What SMBs really want is a hug.” Meaning SMBs are overwhelmed with decisions to make about media. Make it simple for them. “Content creation is huge for national brands. Let’s bring that opportunity to local.”
Chuck Lee, VP Marketing, YP: Competition with small, local digital agencies is a big challenge for large media companies like YP. The only way to compete, in his view, is to “sacrifice margin for the lifetime value of the client.” Lee made the point the high customer acquisition costs will kill a company much faster than a high cost of customer service.
BIA/Kelsey Leadership: Why National Is Key to Local Success
BIA/Kelsey CEO Tom Buono and Managing Director Rick Ducey set the stage for the event with a thematic framework supported by data. National advertisers are increasing their spending in these local markets to target consumers in specific geographic areas. While they still spend on nationwide networks (e.g., NBC, ESPN), they are increasing their spending with local media companies such as local radio and television stations, and local online properties.
Overall BIA/Kelsey expects national advertisers to increase their spending in local markets from $50.2 billion in 2013 to 68.9 billion in 2018, growing at a 6.5 percent compounded annual growth rate.
AutoTrader founder Chip Perry joined Buono and Ducey for a conversation about the challenges of building a national-local business. A few of Chip’s insights:
— Price appropriately, find and serve the unmet needs, and make buying easier are key ingredients Perry offers for successfully disrupting an industry and scaling to success.
— Taking Autotrader.com from zero to $1.5 billion was supported by an innovative Cox Media but it also took entrepreneurial vision, willingness to be open to trying new things and commitment over time to reach goals, not short term profits.
Keynote: Rob Wilk, Foursquare
Rob Wilk runs sales at Foursquare, the check-in app, and is looking for ways to help helping national brands connect with local consumers. Last week Foursquare made the decision to move to a two-app approach, a decision that has drawn some flack for diluting its use case.
“Local is the intersection of interest and discovery,” Wilk said, explaining how its service now offers a core discovery engine, plus a separate app for social interaction (Swarm). Wilk defended this choice by saying consumer behavior strongly supports the idea of single use apps.
Mobile is Foursquare’s DNA. And as Wilk said, “Local is mobile.” This mirrors a theme BIA/Kelsey has been talking about with its clients, how advertisers are increasingly using multiple mobile channels to reach local customers, and mobile consumers are off the charts in terms of their proximity to purchase. Foursquare users are high engagement mobile users, and are 352 percent more likely to use their smartphone to find a location than the average consumer.
Keynote: Mitch Spolan, Living Social
Yahoo veteran Spolan has been at Living Social for three years, now with the job EVP Global Retain. His focus is on helping big brands use deals and Living Social’s marketing platform to reach new customer segments. Living Social is bringing a lot of creativity and innovation to helping national brands. Spolan gave a quick and energetic view of how Living Social is going well beyond deals to drive local engagement for national brands. A few highlights from Mitch’s talk:
— “Deals are very, very powerful for many brands,” but the deals themselves only represent part of the overall opportunity that brands have in working with deals companies and their millions of local customers.”
— LivingSocial positions itself as offering daily inspiration on things to do locally, travel adventures, and fabulous products, all while giving you fantastic deals and discounts.
— “The company is mostly focused on providing an “integrated experience” that tie brands to Living Social customers. For instance, Living Social provides local specific experiences as part of its brand promotion deal with Miller Coors’ Redd Apple Ale — and “Miller Coors is not selling its products on Living Social.”