As much as we love computing, the best technology is that which disappears. Most components of computing are an abstraction layer that stands between you and a given task or experience. That’s the case with layers of the typical consumer tech stack including operating systems, inputs, and apps.
App fatigue is the problem that Mobile Posse, the latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast, is endeavoring to reform. The company’s Firstly Mobile platform replaces the app-heavy paradigm with a more curated, personal, and ‘appnostic’ front end to reduce the distance between users and quality content.
As we straddle the precipice of a new year and a new decade, the next milestone in privacy legislation looms: the California Consumer Privacy Act. As California’s version of GDPR, it is the first major US privacy legislation. It will set a precedent and kick-start a domino effect for other states and may even lead to federal data privacy moves.
“Pursuing privacy” will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of January. You may have noticed our monthly themes: December focused on the connected consumer, November’s focused on holiday shopping, October on local commerce verticals, and September on mapping (more on those in a bit).
One of the most consequential topics to emerge in local commerce in 2019 (and our upcoming editorial focus for the month of January) is the location-based ad industry’s looming privacy winter. Due to regulations like CCPA, as well as privacy restrictions at the mobile OS level, the bar will be raised for collecting location and movement data.
That could likewise raise barriers to entry in location-intelligence and even lead to a market shakeout, considering the abundance of companies that have entered the space in the past few years. One of the longstanding players that will vie for market share is London-based Blis.
Apple is far ahead with Watch and Airpods, which may have sold 3 million units since Black Friday. Google meanwhile acquired Fitbit to buttress its wearables play. Amazon and Microsoft launched wearables lines in the past quarter, and smaller players like Bose and Snap are planting seeds for a wearables future.
There’s an underlying driver for this activity that goes back to the perennial analyst exercise of “following the money.” This is all about extrapolating product roadmaps based on tech giants’ motivations. This is often to future-proof their core businesses or diversify revenue in the face of maturing products.
The location intelligence sector has gotten crowded in the past five years, making it harder and harder to stand out from the crowd. Making matters more difficult, there are looming restrictions such as location tracking in iOS13 and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). These factors could raise barriers to entry and cause an industry shakeout where only the strongest survive.
On the list of longstanding industry players with extensive networks and location intelligence chops is GroundTruth. As we discuss with CEO Sunil Kumar on the latest episode of Heard on the Street, succeeding in location requires concrete and verifiable data for foot traffic.
When looking at several interlocking tech trends — wearables, IoT, smart devices, autonomous vehicles — one common thread emerges: our escalating connectivity as humans. All these technologies are increasingly melded with our senses as the computing “abstraction layer” diminishes.
In other words, device interfaces continue to get more intuitive and automatic. That can be seen in the progression of personal computing from UI milestones like the mouse to mobile-centric touch controls. Now, we have biometric tracking on the Apple Watch and ambient alerts to AirPods.
The “connected consumer” will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of December.
The word “platform” is thrown around a lot these days. It’s sometimes invoked for the sake of PR positioning, sometimes to make something sound more sophisticated than it is, but often the technology being described is really more of an application. A true platform is a central point in an ecosystem of apps that can be launched and managed from one place.
This is the definition that Sparkfly embodies. As I discussed with founder and CEO Catherine Tabor on the latest episode of Heard on the Street, the company integrates several local merchant functions through the single jumping-off point of its local merchant platform.
Street Fight’s charter is to educate the world on the innovation and best practices in local media, advertising, and commerce. And a key corollary to that mission is to recognize and award the innovators driving these sectors.
With that backdrop, today we officially announce the winners of the Street Fight Innovator Awards. Spanning 12 categories that represent the top battlegrounds in local commerce, winners embody the best of innovation and achievement in these areas (full list below).
While Amazon is challenging the duopoly, when zeroing in on local advertising and commerce — Street Fight’s hallmark — as opposed to driving eCommerce, another challenger may loom: Uber. In fact, we have a longstanding prediction that it will blitz local advertising by strategically building from the Trojan Horse that is “in-ride mode.”
This theory is based on the fact that Uber has your captive attention during rides, given in-app utilities like mapping and ETA. Furthermore, it knows where you’re going (think destination-based promotions). In the aggregate, it has lots of behavioral data for a richer mosaic of audience-targeting gold.
This year’s holiday shopping season is not new (by definition), but there will be salient differences and revelations this season. The past year has seen lots of retail innovation as the industry looks to counteract the cautionary tales of late-adopting counterparts in the “retailpocolypse” graveyard.
It’s those innovations and integrations that will be exposed when put to the stress test of the holiday shopping blitz. After reading and writing about them in the pages of Street Fight all year, we’ll now get a look at how a lot of these implementations perform (good or bad) with greater shopping scale.
Amazon has a knack for moving into new vertical segments and then applying its logistical mastery and economies of scale to carve out margins and undercut incumbents. Then, it doubles down by scaling things up to its signature high-volume/low-margin approach. As Jeff Bezos ruthlessly admits, “Your margin is my opportunity.”
The latest place for this to unfold is retail. No, we’re not talking about Whole Foods, though that’s part it (more on that in a bit). We’re talking about Amazon’s transformation of the in-store experience — upending and streamlining logistics just like it’s done in shipping and cloud computing.
Here are some predictions for how Amazon’s disruption of retail via licensing of its Go technology will upend the industry.
We often refer to the many facets of local advertising, media, and commerce as simply ‘local.’ But it’s a bit of a misnomer because the local commerce universe is really made up of several galaxies.
That includes various products that help local businesses, both SMBs and multi-location brands, acquire and keep customers. It’s everything from SEO to listings management to point-of-sale systems. Beyond product function, there’s also vertical segmentation, which encompasses diverse industries from pizza shops to plumbers.
This will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of October. You may have realized we’ve been assigning themes to each month — September being about mapping, August about the connected car, and so on. These are all tentpole issues in local media, advertising, and commerce.
Location intelligence has become an important but crowded sub-sector of local media and commerce. When it comes to value for retail brands, marketing tactics are all about driving (and measuring) foot traffic. This is where Paris-based location marketing and analytics company Teemo continues to innovate.
As we discussed with CEO Benoit Grouchko on the latest episode of Heard on the Street, the company works with multi-location brands like JoAnn Stores to boost return on ad spend by growing physical foot traffic.
As Google and Apple lead the way, we are getting closer to ubiquitous visual mapping. If that happens, there will be significant implications for entities that currently use search and mapping for marketing or online presence. They’ll need to make sure they are optimized in this new format.
This could lead to an extension of SEO to cultivate presence in visual experiences. Just like in search, correct business location and details will need to be optimized to show up in the right places. You don’t want the AR overlay for your restaurant floating above the salon next door.
Responsible location intelligence involves practices like “stop data,” to measure users’ location dwell times, and the scale Foursquare achieves in its network of app publishers. Placed is one of the first location data players and a leader in attribution since 2011.
Now that the two companies have come together via acquisition, how does that position Foursquare for interstellar domination of the location intelligence market? It’s about greater capability and scale, say Foursquare’s Josh Cohen and David Shim, our guests on the latest episode of Heard on the Street.
The real opportunity in VR and connected cars, going back to our primary focus on local commerce, could be to utilize that captive in-car media time with local discovery tools. Ad-supported experiences could be geo-targeted based on where you are or where you’re going. Destination-based discovery tools could be baked in.