Going into 2017, a Street Fight survey of executives at suppliers of local marketing technologies and services revealed that many of them were investing in data and analytics as a top new focus. As shown in our State of Hyperlocal 2017 report, those companies’ other priorities were pretty much in sync with both their small business and enterprise local marketer customers, though perhaps underestimating new areas like digital wallets and voice search.
Today, Street Fight kicks off its third annual executive survey on what’s hot or not on the supply side of the local marketing ecosystem. We welcome Street Fight readers to share their thoughts on the state of the industry by filling out a short survey on what their companies are prioritizing, and what challenges they’re facing. We’ll analyze those results with the idea of comparing them to those of local merchants and multi-location brands to identify possible disconnects and potential opportunities. The analysis will also help companies benchmark themselves against their peers and adjust R&D and marketing budgets where appropriate.
We’ll present our preliminary analysis at January’s Street Fight Summit West in Los Angeles, as well as in blog posts, and we’ll publish a report that should help execs make the case for new product and marketing investment within their company. Some of the questions we will address include:
- How much and how soon will the continued adoption of mobile technology, along with new tech like voice and visual search, re-invent the core functions of local search marketing and content discovery?
- Will technologies like beacons and digital wallets that either lost or never established momentum be catalyzed by their potential roles in solving online-to-offline attribution and local marketing ROI?
- Where does it make the most sense to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques?
- How big a deal is virtual and/or augmented reality?
- Is now the time to develop and deliver the SMB operating system — integrating front- and back-office marketing and operational functions — to build out the connected local economy?
2017 saw vendors increasingly focus on data and analytics, both in advertising and in commerce. That seemed driven more by proving attribution, identified as the top industry challenge, than by producing analytics products for local merchants or enterprise marketers. Could SMBs be sophisticated enough to handle more analytics themselves? Do they need or want to do so?
As shown above, our survey respondents were also investing in the often connected categories of social media marketing, mobile advertising, and content marketing. And, in fact, that’s where a lot of their customers’ spending was going. At the same time, as marketers collect and asses more and more local data, they should start using it more effectively for geo-targeted campaigns on top of their audience segmentation and supply chain analysis. Yet walled gardens from customer information sources like Google and Facebook present both an analysis challenge and opportunity. In 2018, I expect multi-channel ROI will remain a difficult challenge, along with industry structural issues fueling vendor consolidation and pricing pressure.
Last time we asked, Street Fight readers said the toughest tasks their own company faced were raising company brand awareness, selling to big brands, and proving ROI and attribution. They rated their own sales force as the most effective means of supporting their business, followed pretty closely by social media marketing.
Meanwhile, the shift to digital marketing among their customers continues, and is speeding up among enterprise local marketers. Yet there remains a need for tools and services to assess and integrate cross-channel campaigns that incorporate traditional media mainstays like local TV and direct mail.
So if you’re on the supply side of the local marketing and commerce ecosystem, take our survey, and contribute to the discussion. As a thank-you, we’re offering a free Street Fight report or a discount on Summit tickets. We’re eager to hear your feedback, and to create analysis to help your company’s success in this dynamic space.
David Card is Street Fight’s director of research.