#SFSNYC: Solving the Local Data Problem

SW_20130115_NY_5353“The job of getting local data right, much less international data, is bigger than any one company,” said Tyler Bell, VP of product for Factual, during an afternoon panel discussion at the Street Fight Summit. Although fellow speakers on the “Future of Local Information” panel have varying filters for solving the local data problem, no one disagreed with Bell’s statement. The resounding conclusion was that the future of local information is editing, deleting, refreshing, as well as going offline altogether.

Deduce, merge and purge, aggregate: Those are Factual’s key words, since they focus on listing management and correction, on completion and cohesiveness. Another approach is a push model; Yext, for instance, doesn’t do data aggregation but allows businesses to publish listings data to a network of local publishers through a single touch point. The company is big on partnerships — with Foursquare, Patch, Yelp, Topix, and Citysearch, among others — and focuses on location data for the best possible “answer experience.”

The future is “smashing up personalization with local data,” synching current location data SW_20130115_NY_5331and historical data for the most accurate profile, said, Yext’s director of business development, Daphne Earp. Personalization is key not only to local search but also to mobile advertising as well.

Damian Rollison, VP of product at UBL, said that where online advertising’s focus was all about audience aggregation and segmentation, mobile’s big asset is personalization, creating profiles with consumers “own preferences and desires, recorded in a structured format.”

Locu, meanwhile, concentrates on simplicity for nondigitally savvy customers and a smart, attractive and easy user interface. While adventurous or digital-native merchants can use Locu’s tools to customize their brand online (updating menus and price lists, and adding photos, tweaking templates, and so on), and then pushing that data to social and relevant partners, not everyone will have the time or know-how to do that. The solution? Anything from automated technologies to crowd sourcing or even Locu staffers’ snapping photos of storefronts and digitizing the data they find.

“If 2012 was about technology and getting data from the web, 2013 is the year of going offline,” said Locu’s Adam Marcus, who also announced that Locu is now partnering with TripAdvisor and Citysearch.

 Photo credit: Shana Wittenwyler