2014 is nearly gone, and it’s clear that a lot has happened in the hyperlocal space in the past 12 months. On-demand local apps like Uber expanded rapidly and inspired copycats; local publishers retrenched as Aol wound down its mega-investment in Patch; delivery services got smarter and the competition got thicker; and the listings management space heated up. Meanwhile, Google rejiggered its algorithm with “pigeon” and mobile firms rushed to develop attribution tools that could demonstrate their efficacy.
As we have for the past three years, Street Fight recently asked a number of hyperlocal luminaries to weigh in with their predictions for where local is headed in 2015. We ran the first installment of their responses yesterday — now here are the rest. You can also check out this rundown of how some of last year’s predictions turned out.
Peer-to-peer marketing and revenue sharing on the rise.
Carol Davidsen, CEO, Cir.cl
I’m obsessed with the idea peer-to-peer marketing and revenue sharing. So much so, that cir.cl is focused on implementing technology to make this type of marketing a force multiplier for our brand and our community members. For example, a local restaurant, shop, or digital platform can empower their most valued customers to become spokespeople for their brand, similar to how we empowered our biggest supporters on the Obama campaign to persuade undecided voters in the 2012 election cycle.
When your sharing leads to conversion, you are rewarded. Brands can continue to pay for traditional digital display ads on platforms like Facebook, or they can directly reward their customers to promote for them. This type of peer-to-peer marketing engenders warm feelings and goodwill, something that conversions through traditional ad buys never will. Technology platforms like cir.cl support the ability to credit conversions from digital sharing, and automate the process of distributing payments/awards earned.
A rebirth of DOOH on the horizon, as augmented reality hits the mainstream.
Asif Khan, president of the Location-Based Marketing Association
Location-based marketing has enjoyed a banner year in both awareness and growth. Many of our members at the LBMA have investing heavily in push notification platforms, beacon technology and more.
In 2015, I expect this growth to explode in North America and Europe, but I also expect secondary markets like Africa, Asia and South America to embrace location and even leapfrog with advances in technology.
Specifically, I believe that a rebirth of DOOH is on the horizon as companies like Placewise, BlueBite, Lamarand iHeartMedia all develop partnerships and product that leverage the proximity of a mobile device to shape content experiences on screens nearby.
In addition, augmented reality is poised for mainstream adoption by the retail sector. This will happen integrated in product packaging and also as a location-based experiential layer on top of indoor mapping and beacon implementations. An early example of this is the work done by Aisle411 and Walgreens in leveraging Google’s Project Tango platform.
Location will be the most valuable data set in informing marketing decisions in 2015!
Email newsletters continue their comeback and beacons break out.
Rick Robinson, SVP product at Urgently
1.) The old-fashioned email newsletter will continue its resurgence and begin to dominate as the source of local news and commerce.
2.) Off-grid mesh network apps will combine snapchat expiration features with a “near-me” social environment to empower a new kind of (illicit and legal) shopping, sharing experience.
3.) A massive breach of data with one of the leading wearables companies will reveal a trove of data on local consumer behavior.
4.) Beacons will break out of their closed-loop networks and begin to draw data smarts from the Web and customize communication in real time to shoppers nearby.
5.) There will be a roll-up of the various same-day/2-hour on-demand delivery services by a major bricks-n-mortar/digital retailers.
6.) People will lease space in their homes to retailers where they will store commonly distributed goods ensuring sub-hour delivery times.
7.) Major news outlets will buy mentions from those well-connected and oversharing stay-at-home home moms as a way to seed stories.
8.) Finally, retailers will exploit messaging networks (Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.) by pro-actively responding to consumers typing about goods and services they need. Let the bidding for the local consumer’s dollar begin.
The sharing economy makes the tech industry a lobbying power.
Tige Savage, Managing Partner, Revolution Ventures
The tech industry is about to become a defining force in lobbying thanks to the sharing economy. Historically, online companies disrupted some of the least regulated categories in our lives such as communication and commerce. Going forward, expect to see sharing and on-demand companies further disrupt the most regulated categories such as transportation, hospitality, and education. The upstarts will try to change the rules while the incumbents will protect their turf. And the growing contract-based workforce used to transform the economics of these businesses will become a major policy focus. Expect regulators to rethink laws and regulations and in turn require tech companies to invest in their relationships with Washington.
Amid competition, local sales conversion rates will decline, and companies focus on differentiation.
Jeff Tomlin, VP Marketing, VendAsta
As competition to control the SMB wallet increases, sales conversion rates will suffer a decline. More companies will need to streamline their sales and marketing systems in order to attain reasonable margins. The newer entrants into digital agency selling will begin to realize their true rate of churn and it will commonly be higher than what they expected. The natural focus of attention on differentiation will need to take a back seat to the demand of building easily accessible, low churn, high value solutions to much wider audiences.
Marketers will find ways to use more of mobile’s capabilities.
Eli Portnoy, Co-founder & CEO, Sense360
2014 was the year that location became an active and regular part of the marketing vocabulary. In 2015 this will expand to include all of the sensors on a phone (GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Ambient Light, Proximity, Barometer…) to help paint a richer contextual story about mobile users that goes far beyond where someone is, and includes what they are doing and what is happening around them. This new ambient data will help marketers and product builders create more relevant and personalized experiences.
Integration is the next frontier.
Andy Vogel, COO, Colony Logic
The Internet of Things is … 2020 (sorry Nest). The next immediate frontier, for 2015 and beyond, is integration. In B2C and B2B, there’s a proliferation of systems, apps, etc. How can we bring them all together in one streamlined ecosystem?
In 2015, there won’t be any major advances in digital marketing products, only the speed with which they reach local advertisers. As most media companies have transitioned to selling digital, differentiation will come through turnaround time. The integrated companies that have streamlined will gain market share over non-responsive competitors.
Continued evolution in programmatic advertising.
Frost Prioleau, CEO, Simpli.fi
Programmatic advertising will continue to evolve in many of the ways that search advertising as evolved:
— Programmatic across display, mobile, video, and social will become a standard part of marketers’ tool kits, just like search.
— More large advertisers will bring programmatic in house, and build up expertise on how to use programmatic for their own brands.
— Advertisers will use programmatic to continually refine the audiences that they target, customizing audiences based on local preferences and competitors instead of relying on audience segments built for national audiences.
— The processes of creating and optimizing audiences will be further automated, reducing workloads for managing high quantities of campaigns.
Soon, most consumers will conduct purchase research exclusively on mobile.
Bill Dinan, president, Telmetrics
Mobile today is shifting from a secondary media source to consumer’s primary, and in many cases exclusive, media source. I predict that in 2015, 3 out of 4 consumers will conduct purchase research exclusively on their mobile devices. In addition, marketers will move beyond the challenge of websites being found to a laser focus on the challenge of being selected. Mobile-enabled content will be an absolute must as smartphones, tablets and other smart devices replace PCs for more than half of consumers. In this environment, businesses will have to provide deeper, relevant mobile-enabled content to drive conversions and lock down an attribution model to prove the results.”
Singular-point-solution businesses will build out their marketing offerings to survive.
Court Cunningham, CEO, Yodle
A lot of the trends that grab the headlines in 2015 will be an acceleration of what happened in 2014. Among other things, singular-point-solution businesses will continue to struggle or try to build out their marketing offerings to survive, and booking payments and scheduling will move online at an even faster rate to meet consumer demand. I expect the biggest surprises in 2015 – at least for some people – to include that a number of Uber-like sites won’t become a roaring success in certain verticals, and that “do-it-for-me” service models will increasingly fall by the wayside as small businesses seek at least some autonomy in their marketing campaigns.”
Local publishers will have better tools, and will work together more effectively.
Tom Grubisich, Street Fight’s “The New News” columnist
1.) Publishers — whether “legacies” or “pure plays” — will step up their use of increasingly better tools, including sophisticated analytics, to engage users and serve businesses in full-service ways.
2.) More “one-off’s” will cluster sites, especially in the top 100 regional markets both to lower operational costs and meet the needs of regional advertisers, like health-care companies.
3.) What’s “news” will be defined ever-more broadly to include just about anybody that is especially useful or interesting to the users. This news will tend to have higher value to command higher ad prices for click-throughs. “Commodity” news will be de-emphasized by this trend toward value.
4.) Publishers will seek to redefine their communities in ways that make them more exciting, especially as tourist attractions which can fill empty tables at restaurants and otherwise increase retail sales, and support creation of special events that community sites create as an alternative revenue stream. This strategy will also produce more engagement-worthy editorial content.
5.) There will be at least one significant example of “convergence” — as opposed to “collision” — in the increasing competition between legacies and pure plays.
6.) The most innovative sites will maximize the trend toward mobile, including with “game”-like interactive editorial features and streaming of ads within articles.
Overall, it will be a good year for community news because its publishers and editors — using their head and heart each at the right time — are finally learning how to produce more valuable news, cost effectively, and connect more closely both with their users and businesses. This is the business model that, up to now, has eluded community news. If this is indeed happening, then we may see investors starting to pay attention.
Brands will spend big money on local experiential marketing programs.
Nathan Hanks, CEO, Music Audience Exchange
In 2015 big brands will spend big money on local experiential marketing programs. Brands such as TOMS, Chipotle, and Red Bull will continue to lead the way, entering new markets by connecting with customers over shared passion-points online and at physical events.
This year, forward-thinking brands will evolve their marketing to engage with local audiences who are increasingly tuning out one-way, hard-sell messages. What’s driving this? Brands are dealing with a decline in the efficacy of broadcast media, commoditization of online search and display, and the rise of millennials – a powerful customer segment raised on social media who buy from brands that engage them in conversation.
A push to understand ROI and the underlying drivers of performance.
Eric Nielsen, CMO, Moasis Global
The big question we’re going to start hearing is, what’s working in mobile and why? The reality most of us will admit, is marketers have been spraying and praying. Increasingly, their data strategies are becoming more coherent. In 2015 marketers will push to understand ROI or upstream business impact, and the underlying drivers of performance — whether you’re a brand or performance marketer.
If we thought we were awash in data in the desktop world, that was only the beginning. Location context is going to open a new realm in understanding consumer behavior, and how it relates to new types of conversions like store visitation. Acting upon insights on user location from both inside and outside the store will be the new frontier.
Success won’t come from post-campaign insights or pretty visualizations (though those are fun to look at), but how marketers will capture the moments that matter in real time.
More emphasis on improving the accuracy of geo-location data.
Brett Hallinan, VP, Position Technologies
2015 will bring a greater emphasis on improving the accuracy of geo-location data across the broader local search ecosystem. The entire marketing stack needs greater accuracy, ranging from the targeting of mobile ads, down to Search and creating more accurate store location details in maps. Data will go beyond the simple “center of store” and a geo-fence, but focus on context, businesses entrances and detailed navigation. Successful brands will proactively manage their store location data, especially those looking to navigate consumers through the front door.
U.S. will finally embrace EMV chips and SMBs will need to adapt.
Jason Richelson, Founder and co-CEO, Shopkeep POS
Most of world embraced EMV chip cards over a decade ago, and it looks like 2015 will be the year the United States catches up. Visa announced that it is planning to issue 600,000,000 chip cards to consumers and after October 2015 business owners who don’t accept EMV will be liable for any credit card fraud in their store. That’s going to cause a lot of business owners to pay attention. There’s been a talk about Apple Pay adoption at large retailers but, ultimately, the scale of change in 2015 will be defined by how quickly independent businesses adopt EMV.
Social media marketing for SMBs will make a big leap.
Afif Khoury, CEO, SOCi
2015 will bring a strong shift in how local businesses approach social media marketing. With better insights and analysis tools being developed for large brands and agencies, the effect will be a trickle down of these technologies into the hands of SMBs.
As a result of better analysis tools for the social media marketer, social media marketing for local business will make a big leap in 2015 from quantity to quality, similar to the evolution SEO underwent from focusing on the number of backlinks to the quality of those links.
Because of this, fully automated services and tools that solely connect social properties to RSS feeds, and similar third-party content, will move from inhabiting a gray area of acceptability in 2014 to be seen as a poor and even spammy practice in 2015 – with possible penalties being implemented by social media networks in 2015.
Lastly, in 2015 expect to see local businesses and SMB’s test more heavily on social networks other than the big 3 – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. As businesses learn that quality trumps quantity, they will adjust their tactics to be on the most relevant and appropriate social networks for their industry and messaging—not simply the biggest.