Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Speaking of mainstream...

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Is social media getting more mainstream?

Vertical Leap Blog Tue, 25 Sep 2007 12:38 GMT +0000 by Kerry Dye

Those of us in the internet industry are very aware of social media. We use Facebook, StumbleUpon and Delicious. We know what Digg is and how it affects traffic. But how about the rest of the country? Outside of the technical professions and the universities, how is social media actually seen or used?

If you are a member of the so-called "Millennial Generation" you probably can't live without your messenger, social networking and internet connection. But if you are not, if you are Generation X or a Baby Boomer, then all of this is quite likely to be a foreign language. The adoption in these demographics is much slower, and the penetration of even the names of these high traffic, high volume sites is actually very low (try asking your Mum or Gran to join you on Facebook!).

Therefore it is interesting that the BBC news website has added social media icons to the bottom of its news stories. As one of the most widely read websites in the UK, this could make a real difference in the visibility of these sites to a different group of people.

My Take

This is what the beginning of a major trend looks like.

Wednesday September 26, 2007 - 06:15pm (EDT)

Social Networking For Business Goes (More) Mainstream

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Smart Blog

Social Networking For Business Goes (More) Mainstream With Microsoft, Google Moves
From: Best Small Business Marketing Blog

Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is eying a 5% investment in Facebook for...hold your seat... close to $500 million, valuing Facebook at close to $10 billion. Writes WSJ:
Some industry executives believe the Internet today is facing the sort of turning point that the computer-operating-system sector confronted two decades ago: Whoever controls the technology platform for buying and selling online ads could hold tremendous power over the Internet industry for years to come -- much as Microsoft was able to use its Windows operating system to shape the personal computer.

For small businesses, advertising into social network sites could soon become a key marketing strategy. Social network sites not only have large numbers of users, but they have groups and hubs of users or "friends" making them potentially a perfect venue for the type of viral, word-of-mouth marketing that small businesses crave.

Google is not to be outdone in the social network market, however. Rumors have it the search giant is planning its own major move within weeks, basically aggregating all of its Internet properties -- including search, email, photos and social network site Orkut -- into a new social networking hub.

That's just one more reason for small businesses to keep their eye on the marketing opportunities in the social network area.

My Take

Small business benefiting from social networking... What a concept. And what a great fit - allowing them to exploit their strong local relationships and to cut the high cost of their ineffective, mass media advertising.

It is just a matter of time before a creative combination of business processes is employed in a non-obvious way

Wednesday September 26, 2007 - 12:12pm (EDT)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ask Poodle - Find local businesses, products, & services

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Here's a local search site with "live' researchers to facilitate connections with local businesses:

Ask Poodle
Get personalized local search results with recommendations & reviews, price quotes, and
answers from local merchants that compete for your business within seconds, not hours or days.

My Take

Lots of questions ...
Isn't this labor intensive?

  • If they hit it big, who'll they find to conduct the research?
What is their monetization model?
  • Who pays?
  • How do they arrange for payment?

Monday September 24, 2007 - 09:32am (EDT)

Friday, September 21, 2007

The internet yellow pages advantage over local search

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Excerpts from PCM International’s Integrated Marketing Blog:
"In an age when search—particularly local search—is increasingly becoming the preferred solution by which consumers can find a specific product or service, it’s good to know that the Internet Yellow Pages still hold the advantage."

1. They already possess an outstanding sales force

2. They continually improve their IYP offerings

3. They offer both White and Yellow Pages

4. They enhance their IYP products so people can search either through the traditional Yellow Pages classifications or using a more local search-like approach.

5. Their tremendous opportunity for growth in the mobile devices

My Take

Are these advantages? Or vestiges?

1. The sales force is impressive in number. But in my opinion it won't be able to compete with the power of consumer involvement in an incentivized, word-of-mouth model. Plus, don't you think that the sales reps have rather "high negative" ratings for cashing in on the large ad fees they've charged small businesses over the years?
2. The Web is all about continual improvement. It is a key benefit to a decentralized structure.
3. White Pages? I have not used them since I found Yahoo.
4. See #2 above
5. See #'s 2 & 4 above.

Yikes! Do I smell desperation?

Friday September 21, 2007 - 07:54pm (EDT)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Local Search Is About Products Too, Not Just Restaurants And Plumbers

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Excerpts from: Greg Sterling's
Local Search Is About Products Too, Not Just Restaurants And Plumbers

Locals Only - A Column From Search Engine LandOften when people discuss local search they're referring to finding restaurants or plumbers. But the concept of "local search" should include goods and product purchases as well.

Whenever I discuss products and retail as part of the definition of local search people are often a little skeptical. Yet again and again studies show that consumers are using the Internet to do research before buying locally in stores. This is especially true for "considered purchases" (bigger ticket items), but it's generally true for products across the board.

The Internet has not emerged predominantly as a transactions platform, as many had predicted several years ago, but instead as a marketing platform driving offline transactions.

Jupiter and Forrester Research-- have more recently come around and said that the growth of online commerce is "flattening," while the Internet's influence on offline consumer purchases continues to grow almost unabated.

Here's what Jupiter's most recent e-commerce forecast had to say: Despite the slowing of growth in online buying, web influenced off-line sales will grow at a slightly faster pace over the next five years, reinforcing the vast advertising and marketing value retailer websites present.

To look out into the future a couple of years, the three most interesting trends in "online shopping" are local, social and mobile:

  • Local: as in "Where can I buy it today?"
  • Social: as in "Can anybody recommend a . . ."
  • Mobile: as in "How much does it cost somewhere else?" or "These guys don't have it, where can I go to find it right now?"

Many other studies, including a recent one from Yahoo and comScore, have similarly documented the Internet's (and search's) impact on offline transactions. While conventional comparison engines leave "money on the table" by failing to capture or extract value from this dominant consumer behavior pattern, Internet-influenced local shopping has its challenges as well.

The "inventory infrastructure" is developing but has yet to be fully built out. Sites like ShopLocal, Krillion and NearbyNow, among others, are working diligently on this challenge. Once substantially accomplished, that inventory information will transfer into mobile with relative ease.

Another challenge is tracking: showing the online-offline connection. Right now offline conversion tracking is limited to after-the-fact consumer surveys, coupon redemption and phone tracking, as a kind of proxy for purchase intent. Phone tracking arguably doesn't work well for products because people many not call stores in the way they call service businesses (e.g., doctors, plumbers) for appointments.

My Take

The online shopping/overnight delivery model has revolutionized the retail industry for some products and services. But the big dollar items in our household budget can't be ordered on a Web site or delivered in a brown truck.

How do I make those big buying decisions? How do I find just the right local business? Probably the same way you do. And it is a process that's remained unchanged since the first word of mouth referral occured with the words, "You gotta call _____________."

Now, how will this process be facilitated by the Web?

Tags: localsearch

Wednesday September 19, 2007 - pm (EDT) Selects Foresite Technologies

333 magnify, LLC is excited to announce our selection of Foresite Technologies of East Hartford, CT as its software development vendor. Foresite has begun a five phase development plan to build's database application and Web portal with a target date for beta release in early 2008.

This Web-based program will be an innovation in the rapidly emerging local Web, providing a unique benefit to businesses, consumers and local communities. The co-founders Wayne Feigenbaum, Bill Hoff and Tim Tracey made their selection official at Mondays Kickoff Development meeting.

"We are excited that YouGottaCall has chosen ForeSite to partner with them on the creation of their web community. We firmly believe that the use of the web is moving in the direction of viral community building and fully expect this to be a huge success for YouGottaCall," says Michael Giuffrida, Foresites President/CEO.

"We are satisfied that Foresite is a good fit for our needs both from a creative and a technical standpoint," said Tracey. "We have confidence in their ability to deliver based on their track record, their affiliations and their involvement with the local business community."

Bill Hoff, Wayne Feigenbaum, Ben Sweet (Foresite Technologies), Tim Tracey
Tags: localsearch, socialsearch

Wednesday September 19, 2007 - 01:01pm (EDT)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Google's Local Biz Referral Program

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Excerpt: Himmelstein on G’s Local Biz Referral Program « Screenwerk
Marty Himmelstein is a local search expert who founded Long Hill Consulting.

Google’s recently announced Business Referral Program, where it pays individuals to submit information about local businesses, is important less for what it is than what it will be. It is a signpost not only of Google’s intent, but of their understanding of how the Internet will develop.

For while Google doesn’t make trends, they do have a keen eye for discerning them. Their patient execution of a plan based on their reading of the road ahead is nowhere more apparent than in local search. These trends have been remarked upon before, and at least some of Google’s advantage is that while others watch Google, Google’s attention is straight ahead. These trends include:

  • Decentralized collection of business content, from the edges in

    The centralized collection of business information was an artifact of the organization of the telephone network. This was fine for YP Publishers but less than ideal for either businesses or consumers. ... the Internet has made the contrivance of centralized content collection unnecessary.

  • The importance of community and neighborhood to local search: The fundamental role of a community in local search is to establish an environment of trust so that users can rely on the information they obtain from the system. Businesses exist in a network of customers, suppliers, municipal agencies, local media, hobbyists, and others with either a professional or avocational interest in establishing the trustworthiness of local information.

  • Completeness is key: One of the fundamental tenets of local search is for it to be useful it must be complete – if there is a shop on Main Street it will be in the database. Completeness is necessary to gain the trust of the two most important local search constituencies – consumers and local businesses. Google has built its dominance by layering advertising on top of the best natural search results in the business. They will tenaciously adhere to the same philosophy in local search.

Some Google competitors might take comfort in the apparently haphazard and unfinished feel of various Google offerings. A more appropriate response would be alarm. Google’s fledgling projects are part of an encompassing architecture measured not in a year or two but five or more.

Consider that the results of a typical Internet Yellow Pages search have barely improved in the last ten years.) It is inevitable that the Internet will displace other mediums as the starting point of practically all local advertising – including advertising destined for print, television and radio.

It will also take time for Google and others to demonstrate the value of local search in a way that makes sense to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), and other actors in the local search community. There’s still a lot of spadework to be done, and combined with the sheer size of the local search market, the extended adolescence of Google Base, Google Coop, the Business Referral Program, and other projects is closer to necessity than profligacy. The current value of the content in Google Base is of no consequence. Its function is to help Google build the next generation of Google Base, when content will matter.

Google’s ability to monetize local search doesn’t require they “own” business data and keep it behind a walled garden.

Google could easily decide the effort to build a direct relationship with businesses is more of a burden than an opportunity. They could leave that job to others, opting rather to provide tools and incentives that ensure the road for content between businesses and Google is easy to traverse.

My Take

The key to success in the local search market will be tapping into "community knowledge".

Getting small businesses involved in their Web presence is another. Most are too busy or too intimidated to create and manage their own Web presence and search optimization

Is Google's approach the best way to tap community knowledge and gain participation? Are they using the "wiki" way?

Tuesday September 11, 2007 - 11:52am (EDT)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

We're in business!

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We are pleased to announce that, LLC is now incorporated and is officially in business. Our corporate members are Wayne Feigenbaum, Bill Hoff and me (Tim Tracey).

The step of forming a corporation is the result of our combined research, planning and dreaming over the past two years. It is also an expression of our commitment to create an entirely new medium for local business advertising that benefits the consumer, the business owner and the community.


Please meet our co-founders:

Wayne Feigenbaum

Wayne has been a business founder and owner for over 20 years. His Fortune 500 background was the foundation for his success in the commercial printing industry.

As President of Preferred Printing Services, Inc, he has in-depth knowledge of managing growth through aggressive sales, strategic planning and acquisitions. Preferred Printing was recognized by Inc Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies in America. Strong client and vendor relationships have been the hallmark of Wayne’s businesses.

Wayne graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelors degree in Marketing.

Bill Hoff

Bill has over 20 years experience in operations management and business ownership. He has used his rare balance of entrepreneurship and analytical skills to grow consumer products ventures in the bottled water and beverage markets.

As Operations Director at Preferred Printing, Bill has overseen the logistical and financial aspects of the business in its growth and acquisition phase.

After earning his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Duke University Bill received his Masters in Business Administration concentrating in operations from Carnegie Mellon University.

Tim Tracey

Tim manages sales and marketing for the Pinnacle Network of Simsbury, CT. He has over 20 years experience in the sales and marketing of software and financial services.

His sales experience highlighted the value of referring relationships which resulted in highly qualified sales leads. Through his management of Internet based, lead generation and database marketing campaigns, Tim conceived of leveraging technological tools to facilitate and incentivize ‘word of mouth’, spurring the concept for a local business-to-consumer and B-to-B lead referral engine -

Tim earned his Bachelors in Marketing from Boston College, graduating from its School of Management (now the Carroll SOM) and its Honors Program.

Tags: localsearch, socialsearch, wordofmouth, affiliatemarketing, offline/online

Saturday September 8, 2007 - 06:29pm (EDT)

TIME Magazine on Facebook and social networks

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Why Facebook Is the Future - TIME By LEV GROSSMAN
  • Whereas Google is a brilliant technological hack, Facebook is primarily a feat of social engineering.
  • Yahoo! offered a billion for Facebook last year and was rebuffed.
  • It's a website, but in a sense, it's another version of the Internet itself: a Net within the Net, one that's everything the larger Net is not.
  • People tend to use their real names on Facebook. They also declare their sex, age, whereabouts, romantic status and institutional affiliations. Identity is not a performance or a toy on Facebook; it is a fixed and orderly fact.
  • Facebook's fastest-growing demographic consists of people 35 or older
  • Facebook is structured around an opt-in philosophy; people have to consent to have contact with or even see others on the network.
  • Facebook has taken steps this year to expand its functionality by allowing outside developers to create applications that integrate with its pages, which brings with it expanded opportunities for abuse. But it has also hung on doggedly to its core insight: that the most important function of a social network is connecting people and that its second most important function is keeping them apart.

My Take

Facebook would likely be interested in an avenue for expanding its penetration into the 30-50 something market - particularly if that avenue came part and parcel with a unique and viral entre into the $65+ billion local advertising market - with positive cash flow from the get go.

Any such application developer would do well to consider integration with Facebook as a key business requirement.

Saturday September 8, 2007 - 03:42pm (EDT)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Adotas » Brand Ads Steer Clear Of Social Sites

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Adotas Brand Ads Steer Clear Of Social Sites
Written on September 4th 2007 Author by Editor |

In a report put out by IDC called, “Social Networking Services in the US - Popular, Yes, But How to Monetize Them?”, the firm projected that social networking ad revenues in the US would hit $1 billion in 2007, an increase of over 50% from 2006’s $400 million.

Only advertising seems to make social networks attractive to major media firms and portals; whereas e-commerce and subscriptions did not substantially contribute to the revenue accumulated by social networks according to emarketer.

IDC program director Karsten Weide was quoted in a statement to say, “Social networks cannot guarantee a brand-safe environment. Advertisers don’t want to see their ads displayed alongside illicit content, for example. The dilemma for social networks is if they start to control what content users can post, they will lose popularity, which is what attracted advertisers in the first place.”

The reported summarized that for as popular as social networks may be, there is the potential that they may not see big scale brand advertising because of these issues.

My Take

It will definitely take some creative thinking to monetize social networks...

Any ideas????

Tuesday September 4, 2007 - 03:13pm (EDT)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Online classified ads take $3.1Billion from newspapers

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Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing:

"The Washington Post has an interesting story today about the online classified advertising market which recorded $3.1 Billion in sales in 2006, while newspaper classifieds have dropped by about $3B in the last five years.

"... The chart on the left, courtesy of The Washington Post, shows just how dramatic the shift has been, and will continue to be...

"Billions of dollars from small advertisers -Consider that Google generated over $10 Billion in online ad revenues last year, while Yahoo, Microsoft, and others raked in another $10B or more. The vast majority of this revenue came from small advertisers, not the Fortune 500.

"... Most of Google's billions in revenue comes from small advertisers paying 50 cents to $5 per click for a text ad.

"The Next Big Thing - Online classified ads, local search, and mobile search are huge markets, with no dominant leader, and lots of opportunity for innovation. New business models will emerge and a new set of leaders will reap billions in profits...pennies at a time."

My Take

The stats cited by Mr. Dodge tell the recent history. His observation that there is no dominant leader in the huge market for local search (into which I lump mobile search and classified ads) points toward the next revolution in advertising.

Sunday September 2, 2007 - 10:02am (EDT)