When we ask ourselves which way those winds are blowing, the clear answer this month is heightened attention to the evolution of consumer data. That’s right, we’re doubling down on last month’s theme. This happens every once in a while when topics are weighty enough. We did the same mid-pandemic regarding Covid’s impact on local commerce.
Brandify has been acquired by SOCi, a fast-growing market leader in location and social media management for enterprise brands. Brandify and SOCi will combine their technologies and expertise under the SOCi name to serve more than 700 major national and international brands, accounting for over 3 million total store and office locations worldwide. The acquisition includes Street Fight, which will continue to operate as an editorially independent media outlet.
This month, Street Fight’s monthly focus is data. Of course, this entails more coverage of the disruptions to the ecosystem surrounding privacy — how will companies understand and build experiences for consumers as tracking gets more complicated? But the theme also pertains to innovations in data management and analysis and new use cases for AI, among other topics.
The new month signals that it is also time for a fresh Street Fight editorial theme. As these themes often reflect the macro environment, we’ve chosen one that’s endemic to (renewed) physical-world interaction: mapping. We’ll see increased usage of mapping tools as consumers emerge from their homes and return to the pastimes of local commerce.
This month, we change focus to payment innovations with a theme we’re calling Payment Power. Most digital marketing aims, however indirectly, to drive transactions. But what a transaction looks like is rapidly evolving today, and that’s true not just of the technologies that power the point of sale but also of the way brands and retailers are leveraging the point of sale itself to increase revenue, collect data, and differentiate themselves from the competition. The upshot is that payments are powerful, and this month, we investigate the innovations driving that power.
When huddling to determine April’s focus, it was evident that one topic flows naturally from March’s privacy theme: location targeting. Indeed, among all of the subdivisions of privacy reform, location-based data collection is one of the most sensitive. And it’s where many data collection restrictions will focus, such as Apple’s iOS location tracking notifications.
Following last month’s theme of “Disrupting Retail” we shift attention in March to “Pursuing Privacy,” a look at the shifting world of location data and internet tracking.
We’re focusing Street Fight’s February coverage on the tech disrupting retail. Curbside pickup, AR, and more are transforming retail as we head into 2021.
During the past few years of that stretch, we’ve segmented our monthly coverage into themes, as you may have noticed. Flowing from last month’s theme of “Leaving 2020” — a retrospective analysis — what better way to ring in a new year than to focus on what’s to come in the next year?
What will the “next normal” look like in the post-Covid era of local commerce? Will things go back to the old normal or be a hybrid reality that cherry-picks components and new perspectives from the past nine months? Will e-commerce dip back down to pre-Covid levels or keep surging?
We’ll be answering these questions and others throughout the month, along with 2021 predictions (’tis the season) for our theme, Leaving 2020.
Google’s World is shorthand for the fully fleshed-out concept: “It’s Google’s world… we’re all just living in it.” The main thrust is that Google’s search dominance gives it enormous control in impacting the fate of businesses everywhere who rely on search for traffic and customer acquisition.
Google’s ongoing updates to the search algorithm, ranking factors, and SERPs continue to have ripple effects on marketers everywhere. It’s becoming more challenging to follow the moving target of SEO effectiveness. This game has its own set of rules when it comes to local search.
Entering Q4 means many things, but to us it points to the media and commerce world’s annual culmination. That’s right — in this time warp of a year, we’re entering the holidays. Considering the oddities of 2020, what will this year’s holiday season look like? We know for sure it will not be normal.
Answering that question will be Street Fight’s October editorial focus. Branded with the cheeky title “Home for the Holidays,” (title credit: Damian Rollison), this month’s focus will be defining the holiday shopping dynamics of a socially distanced and sheltered-in-place world. What will be different?
What does “Mapping the Future” entail? As a primary tool for consumer local search and discovery, mapping continues to undergo UX innovations and structural changes. We’ll examine these areas as well as mapping’s interplay with local search and SEO strategies.
Though mapping is more of a Street Fight staple than a trending topic, market signals indicate that the timing is right. In fact, we already got started last month with a look at Snapchat’s moves into local mapping — not just UX upgrades to Snap Map but also self-serve advertising for local businesses.
As we roll into August, it’s time to establish Street Fight’s monthly editorial focus. After our standard ritual (no animals harmed), we’ve settled on “The Next Normal.” Forced to adopt new technologies just to survive, some local businesses have experienced a decade of evolution in just a few months.
So the question is, how will newly elevated local businesses transform the local commerce landscape? If a large share of the local business universe has raised its game, what will be the new “bar” in local media, advertising, and commerce? How should tech providers adjust to new demand signals?
After huddling with the editorial team about our July theme, we all agreed that it could be time to mix it up a bit. So we’re returning to a meat-and-potatoes theme in our lineup: Targeting Location. This will allow us to talk about something else while acknowledging Covid-19’s still rampant status.
What do we mean by “Targeting Location?” A central issue for location-based media and commerce, this is the moving target of how to pinpoint and optimize strategies around device location. It includes topics like location-targeted ads, building audience profiles, attribution, paid search, and location data strategies.
As the country starts to re-open and recover (some places more quickly than others), we’ll shift our focus to cover specifically how that’s happening. And what better vertical to represent local business recovery than retail? It will be a leading indicator for several other local commerce verticals.
So we introduce our June editorial theme: Retail Recovery. The goal: to chronicle the steps local businesses are taking to reemerge from locked doors and empty streets. Who’s doing what, and what can we learn from them? By “them” we mean businesses and the tech providers that support them.
Google in particular has made significant moves in recent months to verticalize the consumer search experience. For example, the team responsible for the relatively new Google Travel and Google Hotels sites has reported that they built a new consumer experience for hotels specifically because they noted important differences in the ways consumers searched in that category.
Brandify’s study illustrates that consumer preferences for additional verticals are similarly differentiated, both in the channels consumers prefer for each vertical and the sorts of information they seek out when searching. Already, the search experience for restaurants, retail stores, and healthcare providers varies by vertical, especially on Google, which has added prominent vertical-specific attributes as a result of Covid-19 such as dine-in, takeout, and pickup availability for restaurants.
In our own reporting and analysis (and through the words of our contributors) this month, we’ll define the playbook for local re-entry. As business ramps back up, what will best practices be for local staples such as search marketing and reputation management?
We’ve already covered how businesses are digitizing to adapt to the challenges of commerce in a time of social distancing, embracing curbside pickup, social advertising, pop-up distribution centers, online classes, and retail tech. With an even longer-term view, we’ll examine how this period of uncertainty will shape the future of local commerce.
Not long before the COVID-19 outbreak was officially deemed a pandemic — it seems like years ago, but it was only March 11 — we planned to commemorate Street Fight’s March theme, Word of Mouth, by surveying a select number of experts in local marketing about the state of reputation management and what to look forward to in 2020.
Current events got in the way of our plans, and therefore we’re releasing this report in April rather than March. But we were pleased that the experts we asked came through and offered a great deal of valuable insight on the priorities and challenges of reputation management for local businesses. So let’s dig in to the insights provided by local marketing leaders at ThriveHive, Reputation.com, Chatmeter, Brandify, GatherUp, Uberall, and BrightLocal.
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.