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Feb 6 2006
Mobile Content in SB Ads
While I didn't actually watch the Super Bowl, I did of course watch the commercials here. (You can also watch and vote for favorites at AOL.)

I counted at least three ads touting mobile content: Motorola/Verizon, Sprint and ESPN; in other words, trying to promote mobile data usage and the phone as something other than a phone.

The Motorola RAZR ad in particular was striking for its "meta communication." It showed a paperboy on a bike, delivering the newspaper and a homeowner (male) focused on his phone. When the newspaper flies into his yard the man picks it up and, without even considering it, heaves the paper back at the boy. The "tag" on the commercial was a promotion for Verizon content services (including "news and weather").

The clear message of the commercial was: "you don't need the newspaper anymore now that you have mobile content on your phone." Ouch! � literally, as the paper hit the kid in the head.

Next year will we see an ad for Google or Yahoo! Maps and other mobile local services?

___________

Here's more on the commercials from Search Engine Journal and from the WSJ (sub. req'd).

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:19 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 6 2006
Google, Skype Invest in FON
What is FON? No it's not a Spanish dessert � that's flan � although it is based in Spain.

FON is an effort to build a global Wi-Fi network of hotspots with existing broadband connectivity � "members" are referred to as "Foneros" (Arriba!). These can be established ISPs as well as individuals. Google, eBay/Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures invested $22 million in the effort.

Here's an AP article explaining FON, as well as identifying some of the potential challenges to the realization of FON's objectives.

Here are the FAQs and here are some of the interesting people (scroll) behind FON.

Both Google and Skype have a keen interest in seeing Wi-Fi/broadband proliferate. Whether FON ultimately takes the place of the hypothetical GoogleNet initiative is unclear. And whether FON ultimately succeeds or fails, the development of low-cost or free-access broadband networks will undoubtedly continue.

In terms of the local angle, obviously a Wi-Fi hotspot provides precise location information and would allow for more geographically relevant organic or paid search results (without a user inputting location information).

Broadband is of critical importance to anyone whose business model is tied to the Internet. And we�ll be examining the state of and outlook for continued broadband growth on the panel �The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?� on day 1 of Drilling Down.

Here's Om Malik's post on the investment (he'll be speaking on the broadband panel mentioned above BTW).

And here's more from SiliconBeat.

Here's the latest on the Google "dark fiber" rumors.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:19 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 3 2006
Navigators Wanted
This piece in Reuters discusses the VW-Google partnership to develop a "prototype vehicle which features Google Inc.'s satellite mapping software to give drivers a bird's eye view of the road ahead." Nvidia is also part of the deal.

There's lots to say about the long-term potential here: personalization, routing with brands and advertising on the map, click-to-call/PPCall and so on.

Without too much imagination, one can imagine a range of interesting local and local advertising possibilities.

Let's see if it makes it to market.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:53 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
Online Newspaper Growth a Bright Spot
Amid gloomy reports (WSJ sub. req'd) about the health of print newspapers, there's some very good news in online revenues and traffic growth for newspaper sites. According to Nielsen and the NAA:

Both the overall number and percentage of Internet users visiting newspaper Web sites hit new all-time highs in November 2005, according to a new report by Nielsen//NetRatings for the Newspaper Association of America. The data, which takes into account home and work Internet usage, shows that more than 55 million people visited newspaper Web sites in November, a 30 percent increase (42.5 million) from the same period a year ago.

The November visitors also represent more than one third (36 percent) of all active Internet users that month, the most of any month since NAA began tracking online usage in January 2004.

For the year�s fourth quarter, the monthly unique audience averaged more than 53.6 million and 35.2 percent of all active Web users. The time Internet users spend on newspaper sites also continues to rise as users� visits averaged 42 minutes a month during the quarter.


In addition, news content is the No. 1 type of content that users seek out online.

Separately, here's a piece in Ad Age (reg. req'd) about Neil Budde and Yahoo! News and the delicate dance he's doing with his traditional media partners:

�We�re not interested in setting up a full news service with a correspondent in the White House,� said Neil Budde at the Software & Information Industry Association meeting held at New York�s Cipriani restaurant on 42nd Street. Perhaps to calm the jittery nerves of some of the traditional-media pros in the audience, he added, �We want to be your partners.�
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  15:36 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
Google Click-to-Call (PPCall?)
Speaking of "click-to-call," here's a Mercury News piece on Google's "click-to-call" initiative. According to the article, the company is working with Florida-based VoIP Inc.

Click-to-call is not PPCall. There are many companies using click-to-call, which is about connecting calls between individuals and merchants. PPCall is a business model that can be built upon click-to-call. It seems, however, pretty certain that Google's rollout of PPCall is imminent.

Once that happens, or maybe before, we�ll see Yahoo! go live with PPCall and later MSN. Here�s a list of average PPCall prices (from several providers) in several top YP categories:

� Florists ($2.50)
� Lawyers ($10-$30)
� Towing ($8)
� Carpet Cleaning ($8)
� Travel ($8)
� Dentists ($5)
� Mortgage ($35)
� Cosmetic Surgery ($20)
� Auto Glass ($15)

The average click price at the national level at the end of 2005 was $1.43, according to Fathom Online's keyword price index.

Of course this also could be about Google offering calls to consumers and thus creating another revenue stream, a la Vonage or Skype. But that's less likely in the near term.



Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:47 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
Yahoo! Local Provides 'Answers'
When Yahoo! Answers launched it was immediately clear that people would be asking for local recommendations and seeking answers to questions with local implications.

Now, consistent with Yahoo!'s strategy to push user-generated content from anywhere within Yahoo! to anywhere else relevant within the network, the company has started to integrate Answers information into Local.

Here's a San Francisco page that shows some of that content integration (middle of the page: "people are asking about.")

You can also find, among other information, local business content in Answers directly. (Scroll lower left for cities.)

Yahoo! is starting to reap the benefits of its multifaceted "social search" strategy and it could pay long-term dividends for the company. User-generated recommendations and referrals are uneven but often of very high quality or at least unique. That's because this is information (online word of mouth) that might not be available through search or otherwise online at all.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  10:04 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
StepUp to the Future of Online (Local) Shopping
When StepUp launched a couple of years ago with the intention of delivering real-time inventory information and product availability to the Internet it was met with considerable skepticism, along the lines of "yeah, how are they gonna do that?" and "good luck."

But now that the company has a deal with Google to provide local shopping information, it's clear that other shopping search engines have to take notice. (CNet and Yokel offer versions of this.)

As we've pointed out before, e-commerce (though impressive and growing) is only 2.5 percent of all U.S. retail spending, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept. (Forrester has a somewhat larger number). It doesn't matter, however, whether the actual number is what the U.S. says it is or Forrester's larger projection. Even in the most "optimistic" scenario, online shopping is no more than 5 percent of total retail spending.

Yet our data show that 70 percent of local consumers (which is everybody ultimately) are using the Internet to find products and services locally. That doesn't mean they're not using other traditional media. However, it does mean they're online doing research and price comparisons � and then spend their money in a physical store (whether it's a mom-and-pop or a Best Buy).

So what does this mean? It means that consumers are generally not finding information about where they can buy products locally online or they're having great difficulty in doing so.

Google's decision to be "agnostic" about whether consumers buy something online or locally is smart, given consumer interests and behavior, and I would expect other shopping engines to follow suit this year.

If they don't they may put themselves at a competitive disadvantage and potentially leave money on the table. E-commerce isn't going to take over the world as everyone once thought; it's just one channel.

The far larger channel � but increasingly influenced by the Internet � is offline/local shopping.

__________

Some interesting data compiled by eMarketer on multi-channel/big-box retailers.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:51 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
WLL Super Bowl Mashup
Here's a fun and timely one: The Windows Live Local Super Bowl mashup. (So there's a football pun/joke in there, but I'm going to leave it alone.)

Here's the official MSN/WLL word on the site:

[MSN has] created a Super Bowl mashup to help the thousands of fans expected to travel to Detroit for the game navigate their way around, look for parking, hotels and directions to the stadium, as well as find good places to eat, drink, or to pass the time before Sunday�s game ... [P]eople can view a map of Detroit with information on local attractions, such as the Motown Museum or the Detroit Opera House. Also, we�ve just added Detroit to the list of major cities with birds-eye aerial imagery.

I continue to be amazed by the "bird's-eye" imagery. Too bad it's not real time so you can actually see how many parking spots are left in that Historic Trinity Lutheran Church parking lot.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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