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Mar 3 2006
Fox/News Corp. Online Buying Spree Continues
From Techcrunch ... FIM CEO Ross Levinsohn announces he's bought one of the companies on the list (scroll) and may buy more. More M&A to come ...

The company was NewRoo (a personalized news aggregation site). SiliconBeat has more.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:42 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 3 2006
Legal Category: Cause for Concern?
As I was doing some research on attorney spending online I stumbled across this blog on legal advertising, which basically argues with some anecdotal evidence that the print directory is delivering less value to lawyer-advertisers today than it has in the past:

I get calls every week from lawyers saying they�re not getting calls anymore from yellow page advertising. They don�t want to continue wasting their money, but they�re afraid to stop advertising and lose their spot. They want to know what�s going on and what to do.

I have no idea whether this blog is truly reflective of the feelings of lawyers generally or has any influence in the legal community. But the sentiments should be noted and are a cause for concern because lawyers spend more than $1 billion annually on print Yellow Pages and legal is, in fact, the top revenue category (lawyers-attorneys is the sixth most popular consumer category).
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 3 2006
Friday Festival of News
And away we go ...

In the most recent installment of their ongoing small business research, Wells Fargo and Gallup found (no surprises here) that small businesses preferred free word-of-mouth referrals and rated them more effective than paid advertising. (This is effectively what many of the "social networking" sites seek to offer.) Simultaneously, however, the survey also found that 57% of respondents expected to be advertising online over the next two years (up from 49% now). The survey found that of the 55% of SMEs that advertised in 2005, 67% of that group did so in a newspaper or local magazine. One of the problems here is that the release doesn't define "small business." I suspect that the definition extends to well beyond 99 employees. TKG research does not reflect that 49% of SMEs are spending money online. Instead it is closer to 15%, but we define "small business" as fewer than 100 employees.

According to this piece in MediaPost (reg. req'd) research firm Outsell found that online shoppers turn primarily to search engines and portals as a starting point in their research. Here's the data:

  • 58% Google, Yahoo!, MSN or AOL
  • 44% "online shopping sites"
  • 29% magazines
  • 23% word of mouth
  • 22% print newspapers
  • 14% TV (this is mysterious)
  • 8% online newspapers (generally bad user experience here)
  • 4% radio (again mysterious)
Directories were strangely absent. And without seeing the report or primary data it's hard to be clear on the significance of these findings except for the powerful influence of the major search/portal brands on shopping behavior. What people need to start getting at more clearly now is the relationship of these sources to one another in the entire "purchase cycle."

MTV parent Viacom plans to enter the "social networking" world in order to compete with News Corp.'s MySpace (per this Reuters article). The article quotes Viacom executives implying they'll make an acquisition this year. While social networking has been a stand-alone segment it's ultimately just a layer in a broader application. Perhaps there's hope for a Friendster acquisition yet.

Per John Battelle's blog, the Washington Post has teamed with Yahoo! (the N.Y. Times did the same thing with LookSmart's Furl) to offer del.icio.us's tagging and community features to users as a way to save, organize and share content. Here's the release. Definitely a nice feature to add, but it's not quite as broad as the TimesSelect's tool, which allows articles from across the Web (not just the site) to be saved.

Om Malik posts about how the mobile industry doesn't understand consumers and what they want from phones, citing research data.

More marketers are getting a clue and trying to launch integrated campaigns that use traditional media for branding and send people online for more information or to further the branding experience. Examples include a new TV campaign by Cars.com (reported in MediaPost) and new MasterCard and American Express campaigns to debut during the Oscars.

Also per Battelle ... he points to a CNET story about Google's analyst day. Of interest to me is the statement: "Google Local is now the No. 3 site for classifieds." I wasn't there so I don't know the conext for that statement. I am unaware, however, of many people doing classified lookups (Jobs, Cars, Real Estate, Private Party merchandise) on Google Local. One could argue that Google Local should expand into classified listings and arguably has some listings that might be considered "classifieds" in a broad definition of the term. But I'm quite confused by the statement. Here is the October 2005 comScore traffic data on top classifieds sites:
  1. Craigslist.org
  2. Trader Publishing Company
  3. Cars.com
  4. Apartments.com
  5. Abracat Property
Finally, here's a Reuters story on ad execs' frustrations with growing media fragmentation and the complexity of now reaching audiences. That's the essential theme of this year's Drilling Down on Local event: Consumers have more devices, choices and control than ever, how do marketers and businesses respond?

Whew! Have a good weekend.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  15:10 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 3 2006
Ingenio's Ether
A couple of sites are reporting on the beta launch of Ingenio's Ether. It's essentially a billing and payments infrastructure with scheduling and phone number provisioning. It allows anyone who sells advice/expertise to do so remotely over the phone using the system.

Ether takes the "negotiation" out of the process for sellers, which is a subtle but key element of the system. A seller sets a price and the buyer can accept or decline to pursue. The system uses 888 numbers (with unique extensions) to protect the seller's privacy. Ingenio sees Ether benefiting segments such as legal and financial professionals, therapists/coaches, accountants, computer support, authors/subject matter experts, etc.

SiliconBeat and other sites argue that the functionality isn't new. But I think the company has put together a nice suite of tools and services that essentially "e-commerce" enable certain kinds of service businesses. Ingenio isn't doing any marketing on behalf of the individual would-be users/sellers. It's up to the individuals to do that. The company instead envisions this as a module on a blog or Web site that helps manage a consulting relationship between a buyer and seller. Here's how it works.

There's some complexity in the process of connecting the calls � in circumstances when the expert is unavailable or doesn't want to accept the call � that will need to be tested and probably refined. Ingenio gets a percentage cut of the total value of the transaction. But, presumably, that's not a problem because this would all be incremental revenue for the provider/seller.

A very interesting thing about this is that it takes local service businesses and potentially extends their reach to a national audience. There might be some issues where a caller from state A contacts a seller/expert in state B and there are regulations governing the seller (think law or psychotherapy). But how all that plays out remains to be seen.

The service, built on Ingenio's patents and telephony infrastructure, is part of a larger phenomenon of using VoIP/telephony to provide leads or real-time connections between buyers and sellers via the Internet. Right now Ingenio is keeping PPCall and Ether separate. But there might be some synergy between the products going forward.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:39 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [3]










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