As we have for the past couple of years, Street Fight recently asked a number of hyperlocal luminaries to weigh in with their predictions for where local is headed in 2014. We ran the first installment of their responses yesterday, and below are a bunch more. You can also check out our staff’s predictions for 2014, and see how accurate last year’s prognostications were.
Thanks again to our readers for all of your support. We’re looking forward to bringing you more great content, research, and events in 2014!
Andrew Shotland, proprietor, LocalSEOGuide
1.) Thanks to strong holiday sales of iPhones, iPads and Mac Desktops, Apple Maps will become the default mapping application for about 50% of U.S. local searches.
2.) As the demand for SMB digital marketing services hits an all-time high, we will see a roll-up of various digital marketing service start-ups to achieve greater scale faster.
3.) Everybody and his brother will start (re)selling local business data management (if they aren’t already).
4.) Location-based mobile gaming will become a real thing that a lot of people do thanks to a breakthrough new app. Local marketers will jump on board.
5.) Foursquare will launch a set of features that rapidly accelerates its growth and forces local search tech pundits to admit that the service is actually useful.
6.) Google will announce that now over 60% of search queries have some sort of local intent.
7.) The first murder as a result of a bad Yelp review will make headlines and put customers on notice that bitching about stale bagels has consequences
Rene Reinsberg, CEO, Locu
Over the last few years, innovation in software and distribution has brought big business tools to SMBs. In 2014, this trend will continue, with very-small businesses (VSBs) — those with five or fewer employees — moving to the center of the stage.
We will see the beginning of a new wave of products, often mobile-first or even mobile-only, especially in international markets, that help VSBs better manage their business and connect with customers, creating new online marketing spend while continuing to further move general SMB ad spend online.
Bill Dinan, president, Telmetrics
In 2014, performance metrics such as calls, map views and reservations will move ahead of engagement on marketers’ priority ROI request list. The shift to more tangible metrics is already happening in mobile and that experience will fuel greater demand from advertisers for secondary action metrics in local search. Advertisers want to make optimization decisions based on actionable intelligence and that requires agencies and local search providers going beyond engagement and clicks to deliver performance metrics that indicate lead quality and conversion.
Mike Orren, president, Speakeasy
I see three big trends and one headsmack in hyperlocal in 2014:
1.) Sustainability: The demise or transition or pivot or whatever Patch calls their new status will scare Big Money investors out of the hyperlocal news space for a while and we’ll see the individually operated local sites continue to grow. I’m much more interested in seeing the single-site company that goes to two or three than I am the next big rollout.
2.) Loyalty: White-label loyalty programs like Belly and SpotOn will continue to grow. Giving an SMB the equivalent of their own Starbucks app is really attractive. The issue is how to build a network effect, and the first player to meaningfully marry with a feet-on-the-street salesforce and/or media brand will be able to do big things.
3.) Content marketing: Call it content marketing or native advertising or whatever you like — the trend away from display and towards publishing in-stream, outside of publisher sites and on social will only grow. Don’t be fooled by the noise over Facebook’s algorithm killing business pages. It’s mostly hurting bad ones. The need for quality brand content will only grow.
Headsmack: How Apple or Amazon have not translated their massive databases of single-click credit-card buyers into a business around just-in-time local deals is beyond me. The capability has been there for several years. It may not happen in 2014, but it will happen. When it does, the local commerce game will change significantly.
Josh Fenton, co-founder, GoLocal
Change in 2014 will make that last five years look like glacier movements. Newspaper chaos. They simply can’t attract a new print reader or advertiser and their costs are built against a print model.
With the sale of the Washington Post, Boston Globe and others for a tiny percentage of their value, 2014 is going to be the year that digital explodes — new models. It will be the wildest of the Wild West.
Lisa Skube, director, Journalism Accelerator
Beyond startups and cool apps, I predict 2014 will see a significant emphasis on behavioral economics. Manifestations of this? CRM becomes as important as CMS. As companies like Salesforce deepen and expand their offering, startups like PauPress deliver an open source CRM solution to help publishers achieve sustainability with a single WordPress dashboard. Less plugins, more profit!
Stuart Wall, CEO, Signpost
In 2014, local businesses will increasingly focus on managing their existing customer base. New cloud-based tools provide more insights into customers by integrating a range of marketing channels and plugging into existing data sources.
As a result, businesses will be able to personalize their marketing and focus on developing long-term customer relationships like never before. At the same time automation of marketing activities simplifies building customer relationships, enabling the shift from an emphasis on new customers to existing ones.
Darren Waddell, VP Marketing, Radius Intelligence
1) As conversion rates tumble due to marketing fatigue and new rules make mass marketing to SMBs less attractive, companies with large sales organizations will reinvent their sales approaches to better target campaigns with new SMB data sources.
2) Local businesses will continue to adopt social as their key outreach mechanism with an increased focus on getting loyal customers to interact and share their experiences. Increasingly, SMBs will utilize social profiles instead of investing much time/effort on their own websites.
3) Undifferentiated directory sites will continue to decline in popularity due to Google algorithm changes to the point where the big consumer sites like Yelp will have even more influence on shopping behavior.
4) Local business data providers will continue to commoditize their information, leaving opportunities for new companies to blend easy-to-get, hard-to-interpret data with a software interface that makes “big data” accessible to decision makers.
Perry Evans, CEO, Closely
2014 will be the year where the tools for content and social media will become front-ends for purchasing media. Practically every social channel is moving in the direction of “promoted posts” including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Foursquare. This signals a tectonic shift in how media spend shifts into everyday digital marketing, and it demands a rethink on how we engage and interact with the SMB. A mobile-first mindset and a deeper focus on SMB experience will become mission critical.
Jeremy Kagan, CEO, Pricing Engine
Native advertising will become saturated and begin to lose effectiveness, at the same time as it becomes more regulated. These “infomercials of the Internet” will be seen more as crass and commercial as the novelty wears off.
Push notification for offers and deals will blow up as Foursquare, Groupon and countless others try and close the last mile of attribution.
Tom Stites, founder and president, The Banyan Project
In 2014 at least one nonprofit online news sites will become self-sustaining, more profit news efforts will stabilize and work together to refine their business models — and the first reader-owned coop community news site will organize and go live with coverage.
Sean Barkulis, CEO, UPlanMe
Following in the footsteps of GoDaddy’s recent acquisition of Locu and ConstantContact’s acquisition of SinglePlatform, large scale tech companies that service small businesses will continue to acquire and roll-up niche hyperlocal and online marketing technologies to provide a one-stop solution to service small businesses’ online marketing needs.
Gary Cowan, SVP marketing, Datasphere
Hyperlocal activity in general will move closer to the transaction. While there will continue to be some initiatives focused on hyperlocal news and general information, the majority of progress will be associated with events and activities that provide more direct advertiser results. Many companies that are involved in adjacent spaces (e.g. Retailmenot), or that have only tackled a narrow part of the hyperlocal opportunity (e.g. Groupon), will begin to focus their efforts more broadly on this space. This will mean greater investment, more visibility and improved opportunities for interactions between local businesses and consumers.
David Shim, CEO, Placed
1.) Indoor Beacons Run Into the Same Roadblocks as NFC, QR Codes – Education, implementation, maintenance, and consumer adoption were all challenges that limited the growth of NFC and QR Codes, and Indoor Beacons will run into those same challenges, hampering adoption in 2014.
2.) Separation between Church and State, Advertising and Attribution – As dollars continue to shift into mobile in 2014, advertisers and agencies will require independent 3rd party attribution for mobile advertising. This shift will eliminate an inherent conflict of interest, where the media seller, also determines if a campaign was or was not successful.
Eli Portnoy, GM, Thinknear
2013 was the year that mobile stopped being about experimentation and started being about results. Huge investments in mobile from major brands on both the brand and publisher sides showed that mobile was worth more attention.
1.) Integrating location into core marketing strategy — In years past, location targeting was just part of the plan; 2014 will see a shift into making it a priority.
2.) Location goes programmatic — 2014 will be the year that trading desks start programmatically buying location based campaigns.
Kelly Benish, VP sales and marketing, Search Influence
Publishers will make it or break it this year, and they will still be quoting Clayton Christensen in 2014. Many will try to build their own digital agencies and many will experience costly fails. Others will choose to outsource to eliminate any risk of failure. The shift is here and relevancy will need to be had in 2014 because publishers have the attention of their local audiences. Competitive to publishers, established digital agencies will lose at least 10% of their digital share of wallet this year. Advertisers want ROI and they are placing a stronger penchant on publisher/vendor accountability in 2014. Digital will continue to be a driver of branded searches, confirming that traditional advertising is working in tandem with digital. (Old will become new again)
Advertiser focus will change as energy will be placed on making digital work at scale. For SEO, it’s going to be all about the ability to produce relevant and high quality content at scale. For social it’s going to be all about engaging content at scale and fan-building ads. For paid search, the focus is going to be around tracking the path to conversion not just about clicks or views.
Many publishers will figure out how to leverage their O&O properties through monetization of native advertising content in 2014. They won’t be able to get their journalists and editors create it though due to challenges around their puristic editorial approach, so they will need outside help to be successful.
Got a prediction of your own? Let us know about it in the comments!