Street Fight’s April Theme: Local Commerce in the Time of Coronavirus

We’ll devote coverage this month to the virus’ continued outbreak and its effect on local business. Of course, the airwaves and ether are already filled with pandemic coverage, and we won’t look to compete with that. Rather, we’ll be writing specifically about the crisis’ impact on local commerce, marketing, and related subjects.

In fact, we’ve already gotten started. Our March theme of reputation management barely got off the ground before we and many of our contributors came to the realization that it didn’t really feel right to talk about anything other than Covid-19. Don’t worry, we’ll give reputation management an encore performance later in the year.

Location Leaders Step Up to the Plate

During the Covid-19 outbreak, we’re seeing tech companies step up to the plate in a mixture of altruistic and opportunistic moves. That’s everything from Comcast removing data caps to Amazon removing its paywall for streaming kids shows. But what about local specifically? Again, that’s where businesses are getting hit most.

We’ve seen moves in the local space over the past week from Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare. Though there are several others, we’ll drill down on this representative sample. We’ll also give a shoutout to Google for its work to free up human and compute resources for local listings updates, covered Monday by Damian Rollison.

Street Fight Releases Media Kit for Brand Visibility

Heard on the Street, Episode 47: Header Bidding and Rapid Growth, with Freestar

As ad tech continues to advance and programmatic becomes de rigueur, you’d think managing advertising would be easier for publishers. But in some ways, it’s gotten more difficult for publishers to monetize content and optimize ad placement through complex tech stacks while focusing on their primary function: content.

This is where Freestar comes in. As we heard from company president Kurt Donnell on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast (listen above), Freestar frees up publishers to do what they do best while it takes care of ad monetization, especially through its speciality, header bidding.

Heard on the Street, Episode 46: Improving Road Safety with Your iPhone

Insurance is typically viewed as an old-school industry that’s not very sexy. But Cambridge Mobile Telematics VP Ryan McMahon thinks insurance gets a bad wrap in that respect. As the latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast, his company is innovating actuarial work and safer roads.

McMahon’s firm accomplishes that by capitalizing on the powerful computer we all carry around (and drive around) in our pockets. Given all its sensors like GPS and accelerometers, the modern smartphone packs ample situational awareness. One of the things it can do is detect signals that indicate driving quality.

Heard on the Street, Episode 45: Building a Local Video Marketplace, with Stringr

Video as a medium continues to gain prevalence given better bandwidth, mobile connectivity, and cultural factors. Creation and distribution tools also continue to democratize “pro-sumer” video like TikTok. But at the professional end of the scale, quality production is still expensive and hard to find.

This is the segment of the video market that Stringr addresses. The company has created a sort of networked marketplace to connect supply and demand for video creation. That includes everything from a library of locally relevant B-roll footage for news stories to specific on-demand assignments.

Heard on the Street, Episode 44: Retargeting in a Multiscreen World, with Tremor Video

Two media consumption trends stick out from the last decade. The first is that video continues to gain prevalence given better bandwidth, mobile connectivity and cultural factors. The second is that our attention is increasingly fragmented between screens and delivery platforms, such as streaming apps.

Tremor Video has positioned itself at the center of that two-way intersection. The company provides a video creation and distribution engine to maximize impact for brand marketers, according to Devin Fallon, VP of Media Insights & Analytics, and the latest guest on our Heard on the Street podcast.

Street Fight’s February Theme: Beyond the Screen

Consumer touchpoints continue to fragment and atomize, disrupting conventional approaches to media and tech. Drivers of this trend include devices from smart speakers to cars. Accordingly, as we roll into February, the Street Fight editorial team is thinking outside the box — that is, beyond the rectangles that frame our typical screen interfaces.

We will provide deep coverage of emerging technologies including voice search, visual search, augmented reality, and 5G. How are tech providers innovating with these modalities? How are users adopting them? And how are local marketers tackling the opportunity?

Heard on the Street, Episode 43: Inferring User Intent with Viral Gains

One elusive component of effective marketing is knowing what consumers are thinking. But even with advances in AI, traditional ad targeting practices often commit basic errors like showing people the same ad several times … even though they may not be interested in any way in the product in question.

This is the area where Viral Gains is innovating. The latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast, Viral Gains CEO Tod Loofbourrow tells us how his longstanding affinity for robotics and AI has influenced his path to solving this problem by better inferring intent and consumer sentiment.

2020’s Location-Privacy Winter: The iOS Edition

CCPA isn’t the only factor that will impact privacy and data collection. There are less-discussed and potentially more significant variables like the death of browser cookies and other tech-centric measures. Especially for location tracking, private sector influences and accelerants loom.

Heard on the Street, Episode 42: Building an ‘Appnostic’ World, with Mobile Posse

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.

January Focus: Pursuing Privacy

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).

Heard on the Street, Episode 41: Tracking Real-World Intelligence, with Blis

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.

Follow the Money: Will Wearables Inflect in 2020?

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.

Heard on the Street, Episode 40: Building Location Intelligence, with GroundTruth

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.

December Focus: The Connected Consumer

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.

Heard on the Street, Episode 39: Building a Local Merchant Operating System

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 Unveils Innovator Award Winners

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).

Is Uber Local Advertising’s Duopoly Killer?

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.

Heard on the Street, Episode 38: Can Local Events Galvanize Location Intelligence?

“People’s attendance to events conveys a deeper and much richer signal to their actual interests and passions,” said Gravy Analytics CEO Jeff White on the latest episode of Heard on the Street. “Twenty years of having this thing called a digital cookie to create deeper, richer experiences online based on behavior online, we simply believe that if we can understand the events that people attend, that’s a much deeper and richer signal. So it can be a pride event … or it’s attendance to any of your favorite passionate things: wine tastings or otherwise, we just anchor on that and try to glean aggregated consumer insights.”