As 2012 wraps up, it’s clear we’ve had a ton of action and evolution in the world of hyperlocal in the past 12 months. Daily deals platforms consolidated and came down to earth, hyperlocal payments companies worked to “close the loop,” content sites got more social, and mobile apps looked to leverage their users’ location for social discovery. Meanwhile, there were a few major investments and M&A deals in the space that shook up the landscape.
Looking toward next year, Street Fight asked 12 hyperlocal luminaries to share their predictions for where local is headed.
Got a prediction of your own? Tell us about it in the comments.
Gail Goodman, CEO, Constant Contact
We live in a world that’s more social, more “all-the-time” and more interactive than ever before. That’s both good and bad. On the plus side, the new tools we have at our fingertips, coupled with the pre-disposition of our audience to engage, present a fantastic opportunity for small businesses. On the flip side, standing out from the crowd and respecting the relationship with your audience is more important than ever.
The emergence of SoLoMo (the integration of social media, local merchants using location-aware technology, and mobile device usage) is increasing the ability of merchants to tailor marketing efforts — like content, deals, and offers — to individuals, greatly increasing the opportunity for engagement. As a result, 2013 will bring innovation that integrates marketing channels and helps small businesses market like the big guys. It will be easier than ever to get engaged with their audience and drive real, measurable results. Consumer mobile adoption will require even the smallest small business to mobile-optimize and enrich their online presence to get easily discovered, consumers will demand personalization like never before, and new measurement tools will help small businesses see the value of engagement marketing.
Warren Webster, co-founder, Patch
The last couple years have been tumultuous for the local news and information industry. Established news companies continued to struggle with their local products, trying several things, but not yet striking a chord with readers or finding the model that would work. There was a ton of noise around the efforts of pure-play online news sites, both large (like Patch) and small (the many independent sites out there), as many questioned business models, sustainability, competition and other issues. Meanwhile, it seems like there was never so much momentum behind locally-oriented services and geo-targeted ad technology.
Overall the number of local products out in the market — from start-ups to Googles and Facebooks — seemed to increase ten-fold. The good news is that in the midst of all of this activity, some of the noise and criticism calmed down, and a clearer path is emerging for our industry in 2013. At Patch, for example, we know what we need to do, and are confident in our direction as we work to improve our service to communities and advertisers with groundbreaking new technology, and ever-evolving structures and models.
Some of the brightest spots in the industry are the recent signs of collaboration among the various players. For example, the New Jersey News Commons at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, headed up by Baristanet’s Debbie Galant, has brought together local news companies of all sizes to work hand-in-hand for the greater good of the industry. Where hyperlocal once resembled rival gangs, scrambling to grab territory (and beat each other over the head in the process), I predict that in 2013 the industry will become more cohesive, more streamlined, more focused on consumer value — and ultimately more successful.
Chris Tolles, CEO, Topix
We’ll stop hearing publishers complain about mobile revenues in 2013, because they will have figured it out or they’ll be out of business and no longer getting quoted.
Merrill Brown, director, School of Communication and Media, Montclair State University
1.) Expect to see local TV and radio step up their investments in digital content, distribution and social media strategies. Significant acquisitions are likely and the broadcast and cable companies will continue to gain local market share against weakening local newspapers.
2.) 2013 will see a significant increase in consumers accessing the Internet in their living rooms via devices that start to get significant penetration from Apple and others. Long awaited and much feared by broadcasting and cable interests, this development will produce significant programming hit show successes as well as new configurations among film producers in an even tougher fight for eyeballs.
Alistair Goodman, CEO, Placecast
Apple will commit to growing Passbook into a genuine full-service mobile wallet and will opt for QR code-enabled payments rather than NFC chips, igniting renewed and heated debate about which features ought to be standard on mobile wallets. With retailers rushing to integrate with Passbook’s functionality and an increasing availability of mobile offers, Apple will offer closed-loop marketing for real-world transactions — the ability to deliver a geo-triggered offer near a store, and demonstrate that the offer drove a transaction in a brick-and-mortar store.
In the emerging battle for consumer share-of-mobile-wallet, a major U.S. financial institution (think large bank/credit card provider) will launch a non-NFC mobile wallet complete with localized offers and deals. Capitalizing on a trusted relationship with their customer base and access to spend-graph data, financial institutions are in the pole position to win the wallet wars. If they can create a service with offer and marketing that consumers find genuinely valuable and not intrusive, they will see widespread adoption.
Jeremy Geiger, CEO, Retailigence
2013 will see adamant CPM-oriented advertisers develop heartache, as their competitors start to embrace an ROI orientation. Mobile, hyperlocal targeting, store inventory visibility and a variety of online-to-offline (O2O) transaction models will come together to enable a new order involving real visibility and measurement of ad performance in terms of impulse action, sales and ROI in the real world (i.e. brick-and-mortar retail), where over 90% of commerce for products, is done. While it was once true that advertisers had no idea which 50% of their spend was working, the groundwork for better metrics was put in-place when eCommerce became a blip on the radar and for the first-time, digital advertising could orient around metrics such as arrivals, eCommerce basket “adds”, and transactions. In 2013, such metrics will become more prevalent in the offline world to get shoppers to buy in-store, on impulse and to drive anti-showrooming offensives. For the first time in history, retailers and product brands will have real visibility into real and material ad performance across channels.
Eli Portnoy, head of network, Scout Advertising at Telenav
In 2013, brands and agencies will continue to get more sophisticated about mobile advertising and require reporting that goes beyond than the click. This trend will accelerate, as I expect several studies to be published next year showing the large number of accidental clicks that provide little value to advertisers. New standards will need to be developed to help advertisers understand the value of their clicks and Ad Networks and DSPs will need to create products to help minimize the number of accidental clicks. This will push publishers to clean up their UIs and reduce the number of accidental clicks they generate. Ultimately, the most effective advertisers will wean themselves off the click and move toward buying conversions like drives, calls, and downloads.
In 2013, we will also see small businesses finally start to spend on hyperlocal mobile. Already the largest and more sophisticated SMB aggregators are offering a mobile solution and this will force everyone in the industry to include it as part of the portfolio of products they offer their clients. Mobile is a far better advertising option for most local businesses — people use their mobile devices to find things to do, and mobile ads can be targeted more locally than any other channel. So in 2013 we will start to hear more and more success stories where small businesses are able to reap massive rewards on mobile.
Howard Lerman, CEO, Yext
I expect 2013 to show the continued emergence of local commerce and payments. Companies like Square will push to capture consumers on the front end in addition to processing the payment. We’ll also see the launch of more vertically enabled commerce experiences like Uber and ZocDoc. Vertical commerce enables an optimization of both the consumer and business interaction. Lastly, we’ll see the continued proliferation of mobile apps in both the consumer and business experience.
Ezra Kucharz, president, CBS Local Digital Media
1.) Mobile will continue to rise in time spent by consumers. Ease and on-the-go access make mobile the platform they go to when needing instant information and content. Marketers large and small begin to see the utility of mobile in reaching consumers versus it being an early adopter buzz media.
2.) Video and its use by small-to-medium businesses will become an emerging marketing model. SMBs will not only be able to develop rich and high-quality campaigns but easily purchase cost-effective media on multiple platforms, new and traditional.
3.) Second screen commerce begins to grow, tying traditional media more directly to real-time ecommerce. Whether radio or television, the endemic audiences are using mobile devices while consuming other content.
David Payne, CEO, Scoutmob
Looking at local from different angles, I predict 2013 will be “the year of the hangover.” Over the past few years there has been a great deal of excitement and investment in many different parts of local — daily deals, experiences, takeout/delivery, payments and loyalty. Each of these facets of local has been white hot at one time or another, but, given the inherent scalability issues related to local, 2013 will be the year where companies from Groupon to LevelUp will need to prove the value of their underlying businesses. Even standard-bearers like Foursquare will have to show good results in 2013.
Many of these areas of local got ahead of themselves and won’t be able to prove the results necessary to warrant additional investment, so M&A activity should be strong in 2013. This will make 2013 a difficult year for local, but will pave the way for 2014 and 2015 to be very exciting years for ground-breaking local models to emerge. In the short-term, I’m most excited about e-commerce, much better loyalty than we’ve seen so far, and user-generated content. I’m a huge fan of what Jeremy [Stoppelman] has done at Yelp. Local has had a rocky few years recently, but there are many green shoots for companies clever & nimble enough to take advantage of the transactional nature of local.
Josh McCarter, CEO, Booker
1.) “Booking Online” will cease being associated with travel and restaurants. As all types of businesses move online, buying a service will become as easy as purchasing a product from Amazon.
2.) SMBs will move their businesses onto the cloud as consumers move toward mobile. The term “cloud-based” will go the way of “wide-screen TV” and will become the expected standard for software development.
3.) The cost of software which offers yield management and dynamic pricing will decrease — allowing small businesses the opportunity to compete with enterprises in the deals space.
4.) As the demand for online marketing has increased, so has its cost — making it very expensive for small businesses to promote themselves online. As a result, I predict an increased focus on retention marketing, as businesses aim to strengthen the loyalty of the customers they already have.
Walt Doyle, general manager, Paypal Media Network
I think one of the more disruptive growth opportunities we will see in mobile is in the adoption of ePOS solutions by small and mid size merchants. Companies like Shopkeep, Leaf, and Erply will grow disproportionately to the market as they have in market traction and excellent growth. They will continue to move upstream and begin to replace the existing solutions as they offer better tools for the merchants to engage with their consumer base, are much cheaper, and are just plain fun by comparison to the existing in market options.
My only other prediction for 2013 is that if we want to watch professional hockey we will need to go to Europe — these guys are worse than Boehner and Obama!
Got a prediction of your own? Let us know about it in the comments.