In the local space, 2016 brought both consolidation and renewal. Major players were acquired, while other companies experimented with innovations in bots and AI, VR/AR and a new generation of voice search. Here’s a look back at the top Street Fight stories (at least in terms of traffic) this year.
As 2016 draws to a close, we’ve once again asked Street Fight staffers and columnists to look into their crystal ball and offer prognostications for what they think will be the biggest story (or stories) in local in 2017. We’ll be running their outlooks in two installments, the first today and the second tomorrow.
Are bots the future of the internet? Maybe, maybe not; like the buzz around Google Glass in 2013, we’re in the midst of a moment when it’s hard to tell the difference between hype and technological breakthrough.
Bot Hunter allows queries about the latest hot bots, and its makers envision lots of local bots populating the platform. Key use cases include scheduling appointments, retrieving basic information, receiving automatic follow-ups after certain purchases, as well as promotions and loyalty programs.
Bots could displace apps just as apps displaced search. “Search started with consumers typing into a box,” Pingup’s Ron Braunfeld said recently. “[AI] is all about knowing where you are, time of day, what’s in your refrigerator; and giving you the right information without having to search.”
Pingup is bringing its API-powered live booking capability to “a broader range of leading-edge consumer interfaces and platforms.” This means “Pingup-powered bots” will let consumers book and confirm appointments in real time with “tens of thousands of local businesses across the U.S.”