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December 5, 2007

Local and Mobile Search

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Hi all! I know Susan was in charge of recapping this morning’s keynote with Richard Rosenblatt, but can I just reiterate how awesome that Carson Daly video was? Because it really was totally, totally awesome. For a second it was like I was 14 years old again and watching TRL. I miss my boy bands.

I wish you were all here. If you were I would tell you the story about how I had to talk Susan out of buying an $81 brush in the Wynn gift shop this morning. I swear, for a smart girl…

Anyway, I’m kicking off Day 2 at the Local and Mobile Search panel with moderator Detlev Johnson and speakers Gregory Markel, Alex Porter, Dan Perry, Brian Gil and Eswar Priyadarshan. Oh, how I hope I never have to spell that name again. And also, if memory servers, Gregory Markel is a super speedy talker. Let’s hope I can keep up.

Speaking of my buddy Greg Markel, he’s up first. And he’s shouting. Oh no. Why are we yelling? Stop it! Susan!

Local Mobile Search is a very cute but nascent marketing channel. We are in the early days and we’re all about to see a big change. [cue dramatic music]

Today, mobile search is the GPS device that finds the nearest pizza place. It’s a call to Google or TellMe to order pizza. It’s a mobile browser-based request for "pizza 93065′. It’s a Yahoo! Mobile local "send to phone" request. It’s a Google Maps "pizza" request on an iPhone. It’s a mobile carrier/device Ad Network that knows where you are and serves you appropriate ads and offers. It’s the upcoming Google Phone OS (Android).

But wait, there’s more and it rhymes with "Moogle"!

There is Google Maps with My Location. Whether or not your handheld device has GPS, they’ll be able to locate you and help you find things that are near you (like my car? Can they tell me where I parked my car after a long day of shopping). You can do this without first typing in your starting location.

[Gregory shows a Google-created video explaining how Google My Location works. Suddenly it's an infomercial! Sweet.]

Gregory calls this a major event because one of the gorillas in the space has addressed user pain in having to take multiple steps to get a result in local search. It’s also taking away pain of the advertisers because you can bet this will soon be monetized with targeted ads.

Why the slow adoption?

Both US Internet consumers and advertisers are slow to embrace local mobile search thus far. What’s the hang up? Well, there is slow process download speeds, tiny screens, awkward processes with often disappointing results, and low volume for mobile advertisers in most cases.

Gregory asks how many people have used local mobile search in the last week? (a handful) Month? (about the same.) How do we make this a better experience for people?

The change agents to speed adoption:

Consumer:
GPS: Remove steps/work in typing/searching
WAP must die.
Increased data speeds: 3G/Wifi/imax
Larger screens/True Web/Better visuals/integrated technology
Free phones & service (ad supported)
MID Adoption Intel Moorestown/Wimax

Advertisers:
Ease of campaign inclusion/tracking
More granular targeting
Successful case studies

What’s the outlook for local mobile search?

  • Project 900 million global users by 2011
  • $920 million revenue in 2011
  • 55 mil US mobile search users by 2001
  • Major advertiser migration led by Travel/Entertainment/Adult
  • Physical retailers/bars/restaurants will be able to broadcast promotions to those opted in based on proximity.
  • "Free"- ad supported mobile phone service.

Marketers should stay awake and involved. There are current early adopter opportunities by keyword, category and advertisers. Stay vigilant. We’re nearing a tipping point. A few more iPhone-like events and technologies over the next 24 months and its Gold Rush time.

Alex Porter is up and says we’re going to talk about what’s going to happen with local search in regards to the search engines.

Local search usage is on the rise. Companies need to take advantage of map listings to reach customers actively searching for their business. Map listings are used to power search engines, Internet yellow pages, review sites, mobile searches and in-car navigation results.

  • 63 percent of Internet users performed a local search online in July of 2006.
  • Users made 808 million local/Internet yellow page queries.
  • 82 percent of IYP and local search users make contact after viewing a business local advertisement.
  • 47 percent of local searchers visited a local merchant as a result of search behavior.

He shows some screenshots for local search examples. We see a shot of the Yahoo SERP for when you type in [pizza Denver, CO]. We see the map shortcut. The same search on Google gives users a large local result, including a map and reviews. The Superpages result isn’t impressive. The Live result is basically a giant map.

Where is the data coming from for Local Map listings?

Alex says that the physical phone books that we use to prop kids on (hee) are being shipped overseas and personnel are data entering each business location (address, phone number, etc). It’s then going to the 3 main data providers that push this information everywhere. It’s basic information, not 100 percent accurate, no keywords or categories, no enhancements.

How do you make sure your information is accurate?

Directly submit to each engine for a free basic listing. Utilize submission services to submit multiple properties.

  • For Yahoo’s Map Listings: You can get information in within 24 hours but you have to do it manually. Allows you to enter in all your basic information. You have to manually update each location. Okay, if you have 5 locations, not good if you have 5,000.
  • Google: There are two options – Postcard Option and Bulk Upload Option. You send a Postcard in with information and then in a few weeks Google sends you your Pin. Enter it online and in a few weeks (hopefully) your listing goes live. He found that the Bulk Option works the best for getting up in a timely manner but the information isn’t as robust.
  • MSN: Also running a Postcard system.
  • Superpages: Has Bulk Upload option.

To calculate your ROI, utilize call tracking, employ trackable URLS and implement tracking coupons (Google only). However, realize that these listings are most conducive for consumers to pick up the phone or get in the car. Therefore, ROI is not directly measurable.

The great thing about submitting to all these engines is that it allows you to receive multiple listing exposure through map and organic listings. [Yes, it helps brand you as an expert, while also pushing your competition off the page! - Lisa]

Dan Perry is up! He works for Cars.com and sends me funny emails sometimes. We like Dan.

The mobile opportunity has helped Dan to extend the Cars.com brand, deliver the best of Cars.com content and functionality optimized for the mobile environment, and develop an advertising channel for future growth.

They did a soft mobile launch in April and began promoting it on the home page of Cars.com in May. He says that traffic has increased significantly – they’re up to 1.5 million page views per month.

He shows some screenshot of Cars.com’s mobile product. They’ve added advertising and there are about 8 different avenues or channels that users can go down. They present the stuff that users would find most valuable. There are no drop downs because they’re a pain for users to navigate. It’s much easier for users just to "thumb down" the page.

They found that there are two categories of people searching:

1. On the lot: Late stage shoppers looking at car listings, used car values, dealer location and the payment calculator.
2. On the train: Early stage shoppers looking for reviews, their blog, photos, top ten lists, etc.

They’re presenting a unified brand on all channels with consistently used URLs. They’ve optimized the channel for any device and have streamlined the content.

Delivering on Local Search

Zip code based search provides access to more than 2 million local listings with videos. Users can sort hundreds of makes and mobiles by price, mileage and year.

Manufacturers are hungry for opportunities to reach in-market shoppers in the mobile environment.

Dan says to make it valuable. If you were in the mobile environment, would you think your mobile content adds value? Use drop downs sparingly. Consider the different types of users. Consider different types of users and added sophistication. Continually tweak.

Welcome Eswar. He says there will be a quiz on how to spell his last name later. Heh, notice how I left it out. ;)

Why Get Mobile?

245 million US mobile subscribers.
41 percent of subscribers use mobile data services
Rich devices are on the march
Google, Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone all throwing tech & Huge $$ at smashing mobile content barriers. Eswar says to get going on mobile now!

Lessons Learned: What doesn’t work?

  • Squishing Web site into a lowest common denominator experience.
  • Assuming that the big wired page/site will work on a full-browser phone.
  • Providing a mobile only URL.
  • Minimal content with a few headlines and stories
  • US-centric view of devices and network capabilities
  • Static sites

Lessons Learned: What does work?

  • Adapt and create content for the mobile audience.
  • Tailor content to device capabilities. Take advantage of rich media where possible.
  • Keep content fresh.
  • Integrate display and text ads above and below the fold.
  • Target ads by device and demographics
  • Implement both carrier and portal SEO mechanisms

The GetMobile Solution

GetMobile is a self-service portal where advertisers and publishers of all shapes and sizes are empowered to build a premier mobile Web presence.

Publishers can build a mobile site from their wire site URL. If they don’t have a wired site and they have a template or an RSS feed, they can build from that as well.

Once you enter your URL, they spider your site. They have special algorithms that can detect your page size and content. They figure out your logo, navigation, where your content is, etc. Once they’ve spidered you, they display your site for mobile and you can decide if you like the way it looks or not. You can see what it looks like on a variety of devices. They try to "start a conversation" with publishers. They show publishers what their site would look like and let them fix it up. You can set different background colors and styles. They "widget-tize" all your content.

After GetMobile picks your content, you have the option to select and replace various content sections. They call this process "juicing".

Can You Mobilize My Blog RSS Feed?

Yes! You give them your blog URL, they’ll give you your site, and then you can use their editor to make it look the way you want. You can paginate your entries to make it easier for users to digest.

They also offer an ad landing page builder, yada, yada yada. Suddenly this session became a pitch for GetMobile.

Marketing Programs for your Mobile Site

  • Implement a Mobile Redirector: Detect that a mobile device is accessing your WW site and redirect to your WAP site.
  • Implement Mobile SEO techniques
  • Implement text to WAP
  • Implement Web to WAP
  • Place your site across mobile SEM and Ad Networks.

Yahoo Local’s Brian Gil is up next.

He says we’re seeing a transformation in the mobile search industry. It’s now global, we’re thinking outside the PC, its opening up to UGC content, and it’s allowing for detailed information to be published by business owners. All of these things are happening in local and translating into mobile, as well.

Yahoo’s goal is to provide users with Instant Answers related to the entry point. You (marketers) can benefit from that by getting your business information correct. If you can do that, Yahoo can distribute it to its users. Each entry point is optimized directly but leverages the same set.

To optimize for local, encourage merchants to solicit customer feedback to nurture and manage their online reputation. Include details on special services and products carried.

He showcases the new Yahoo Local site, which I have to admit, I’ve used and it’s pretty awesome. The page is welcoming "kryssa21". I wonder who that is.

When Yahoo determines the intent of a user to be local they’ll provide expanded information specific business and provide local business categories. They shortcuts have a very high click through rate.

They believe the mobile opportunity is tremendous. They think the mobile market is going to surpass the PC market. Most people are looking for maps and directions.

Mobile local search multiples the needs for strong fundamentals. Things like comprehensiveness, depth, accuracy and relevance. If you lose users once, you’ll lose them forever.

Users want results that matter, content that actually works, no more "click and wait" and easy access and navigation. Relevant results and instant answers specific to where they are. Hee, everyone used [pizza] for their screenshot examples. Pizza is delicious.





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