Local News Pioneer Mike Orren on Industry’s Future: A Steep but Climbable Hill

“There are no silver bullets,” Mike Orren tells Tom Grubisich. Local news “has always been a complex industry, and advertising, marketing services, managing the print demand—all are going to continue to be a part of the equation.”

Community News and the Long Game: An ‘Indie’ Makes a Case for the ‘One-Off’

Community news has a decade-plus of digital publishing experience, but it’s not yet clear which kind of community platforms will be winners. New Canaanite founder Michael Dinan has many perspectives on the issue…

The ‘Five Places’ Method for Manageable Local Marketing

It’s critical for SMBs to focus attention on a few of the most effective marketing activities, and to adopt a strategy that allows them to keep marketing efforts consistent. The “five places” method is a simple way to organize one’s efforts based on an inventory of what matters most…

The Importance of Responsive Web Design for SMB Sites

It’s critical for local businesses to have a beautiful site that doesn’t just scale down to low resolutions, but also looks great on all devices — from a 27” desktop display to a “smart” refrigerator, and every tablet, phablet, and phone in between. That’s why for the majority of local businesses, responsive design is the best mobile strategy…

4 Reasons Location-Based Services Will Become a Thing Again in 2015

With improved location accuracy, improved POI data, and efficient background location processing, developers will be equipped to build apps that can truly extract relevant real-world user experience. Location will mean more than a wandering blue dot; it will mean the places we’ve traveled, the relationships we’ve developed, and the resolutions we’ve kept…

Do We Really Want to Live in an Uber-fied World?

Given Uber’s recent missteps, we, as an industry, need to take a long look in the mirror. Founders really need to think hard about the culture they are creating, and the potential uses and misuses of the data they are generating and collecting…

Solving the Dirty Data Problem in Location-Based Advertising

Our work with leading ad tech companies has shown that 80% of the location data appended to ad inventories is inaccurate. The inaccuracies come from antiquated IP positioning providers who trace ad requests through the Internet to find the hub access point and assign the hub’s latitude and longitude to the IP addresses…

Lessons Learned From the Call Analytics Trenches

It may be a long time before the true value of call analytics data is fully realized, but I’ve been recording the digital marketing revolution one (often uncertain) hello at a time…

Social Studies: Are ‘Follows’ and ‘Likes’ Right for All SMBs?

Social media simply isn’t right for the vast majority of local businesses. Even with its extremely low out-of-pocket-costs, social marketing takes a tremendous amount of ongoing effort and diligence to have any hope of generating what a local business would consider to be results…

Handicapping 2015’s Mobile-Local Happenings: 5 Areas to Watch

At the crest of a new year, several trends signal what we can expect to see in mobile and location-based media. Next year we’ll see the mobile ad market continue to grow, we’ll see local continue to be Uber-fied, and we’ll see mobile social sharing go local as well…

Are Community News Sites and Investors Ready for Each Other?

Venture-capital and angel investors have been avoiding digital community news — but there’s no mystery about why. There are some profitable one-offs, but most investors aren’t interested in one-offs. They want to put their money in the possibility of a good-sized payoff. That will only come with community news that is part of a network…

Why Apple Maps Is Partnering With Local Search Companies

Last week, after I uncovered that Apple Maps had cut deals with at least ten new companies (including Yext, Location3, Yodle, et cetera) to provide business listings data, I got a few emails asking what the big deal was. Here’s what I see is going on…

A ‘Radical Transformation’ Is Brewing in SMB Phones

For local businesses that rely on the phone for inbound leads (which is nearly all of them), the functionality of copper lines pales in comparison to what call-tracking-enabled lines have done for years. Unfortunately for business owners, the VoIP packages being sold to them also fall far short of the level of functionality that call tracking provides…

How Small Business Software Could Produce The Next Hundred Billion Dollar Company

A resurgent business software sector has started to use cloud computing to bring cheaper, simpler accounting, point-of-sale and even marketing software to brick-and-mortar businesses. With their advances, the era of entrepreneurship has come to the real world…

Why Brand Names Matter Less and Less on Main Street

The “brand era” that gave rise to some of the tentpoles of the American economy may soon come to an end. The web, now reachable wherever and whenever through smartphones, can help consumers answer many of the questions that brand once answered…

Did Apple Just Transform Pay-Per-Call (Without Anyone Noticing)?

OSX Yosemite’s “Continuity” feature has received surprisingly little media attention in general and zero coverage for its implications for call monetization. But it could be a glimpse into the sector’s future.

The Democratization of Local Commerce and the Future of Physical Exchange

While the analyst community obsesses over the share of spending that physical stores are losing to ecommerce, they overlook the vast transformation in the stores themselves. There’s a deeper shift underway in the way we sell and consume products locally that could have a substantially larger impact on the wider economy…

Can Traditional Retailers Nail Digital Before Amazon Figures Out Brick-and-Mortar?

It was never a question of if, but when. Anyone tracking the retail industry knew the day would come for Amazon to open… ahem… a brick-and-mortar storefront. Now Amazon’s familiar slanted smile logo will hang from a shingle in Manhattan right down the street from Macy’s flagship Herald Square store, just in time for the […]

Apple Pay Doesn’t Have to Kill the Wallet to Be Worth SMBs’ Adoption

More and more, software is influencing the way consumers evaluate the places where the shop in the real-world. As the small business technology ecosystem grows, it is crucial for small businesses to break down any potential barriers surrounding purchase, especially when consumers are offered numerous alternatives including national chains and ecommerce giants.

5 Tips for the Aspiring Hyperlocal Publisher

Although the business — and consumption — of journalism continues to evolve, its health certainly seems much more robust than it was five years ago. This is particularly true at a hyperlocal level. Yet at the same time some constants remain. In particular, issues around funding — and sustainability — continue to remain one of the sector’s biggest challenges…