YP Digital Presence Promises Businesses ‘Complete Location Information Control’

YP’s been on an aggressive product rollout the last few weeks, and its latest, ypPresence Plus, promises to tie them all together as businesses struggle to ensure they have the most up-to-date details about their locations across all digital channels.

The concept of Digital Presence Management refers to the process of overseeing and correcting all information about a business location across desktop, mobile, social media, interactive reviews, mapping/navigation platforms, store pages, directory listings, and anywhere else a consumer can encounter and seek knowledge about a brand’s place.

“A strong digital presence begins with a website and continues with a consistent, up-to-date business profile that consumers can access online and on mobile devices,” says Stu MacFarlane, EVP of Product and Marketing at YP.

“It can be time consuming and difficult for business owners to manage their information in all the places it appears,” MacFarlane adds. “ypPresence Plus gives business owners control over their listings, ensuring that consumers across the web have the information they need to feel confident about contacting the business.”

It’s About Local Discovery

YP is billing ypPresence Plus as the latest in a series of enhancements to YP’s portfolio of integrated solutions, including the recent launch of ypWebsite Pro, which is meant to help local companies create a central internet hub. With ypWebsite Pro, local businesses have the ability to earn top rankings in organic search results and get found on local directory sites.

The addition of ypPresence Plus is designed to ensure that as local places see their discoverability rise, consumers will be able to find real-time data about those business locations.

“Local business owners can lock in critical business information for each location so it can be showcased across more than 60 sites, including the ready-to-buy audience on yellowpages.com,” a YP representative tells GeoMarketing. This helps build credibility with search engines and ensure core information is accurate when a consumer is ready to make a purchase.

YP is working with Digital Presence Management specialist and Knowledge Engine Yext as a partner on ypPresence Plus. (Full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More on that relationship here.)

“We’ve heard from clients that ypPresence Plus works, delivering accurate online information, which helps drive clicks, calls and customers,” the YP rep says. “In a study of more than 1,400 clients, ypPresence Plus delivered 98 percent accuracy across publishers for core content.”

One client,Jan Steinlage, marketing director of Kansas and Missouri based Saylor Insurance Service, says that “ypPresence Plus saves me time so that I can focus on other areas of marketing and growing our business. It gives me peace of mind knowing that our business now has a better online presence, which is something I did not have the time nor expertise for.”

The Costs Poor Digital Presence Management

For years, YP has explored the ways consumers zig-zag from device to device, platform to platform, online-to-offline when searching for products and services.  The fragmented customer journey makes it harder than ever for brands to be where local consumers are looking and to gauge success.

If a business has inconsistent or wrong information related to a location, the loss of that consumer’s spending isn’t just a one-time problem; it represents a basic loss of trust that another brand can capture and retain.

Considering that on average, business owners will see their information changed, without their consent, every six days on one of 60 leading sites consumers find a business on, it’s critical that business ownerstake control of their online data, YP notes.

Without actively managing it, vital business information, such as a business name, address and phone number, may be listed incorrectly on sites that consumers visit frequently.

Since consumers use multiple sources in their search for local businesses – everything from websites to search engines to review sites to social media – it is imperative that the data is accurate and consistent.

In terms of quantifying the problem, research by comScore conducted on behalf of YP found that YP users reference an average 5.6 sources of information. Consumers also say that they are much less likely to contact businesses that have inaccurate or incomplete information online.

While the rise of connected intelligence through voice-activated digital assistants like Siri and Alexa may soon call the idea of a brand’s website into question, brands need to ensure they have a handle on the details that define their outlets — and on their terms.

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General Motors’ Maven Gig Arrives In San Fran To Support On-Demand Economy

Maven Gig, the offshoot brand of General Motors’ multi-city shared-mobility, subscription-based project Maven, is moving into its second city to provide cars for independent freelancers who need wheels.

The first Maven Gig service was launched in May in San Diego. The primary Maven car rental service has been operating on-demand ride-sharing rentals in San Francisco since August 2016. More than 20 million miles have been driven under the Maven brand in San Francisco and nearly 1 million rides have been given.

In February, Atlanta became the 17th city to host GM’s experiment in car-sharing conjunction with Lyft Express Drive, the ride-hailing platform’s rental car business. Since then, Maven has expanded its presence in New York City and Baltimore.

As concepts from self-driving cars to connected cars, along with the expansion of ride-hailing programs from Uber and Lyft, become more mainstream, automakers like GM have been racing to explore new business models.

Maven Gig is available in San Francisco and San Diego. Drivers can sign up online.

Supporting The Gig Economy

The rise of on-demand services from ride-hailing to food delivery to even laundry and dry cleaning pick-up has made freelancing viable for many people seeking part-time work or trying to support themselves in between full-time jobs.

Naturally, the nature of work in the gig economy has also multiplied the challenges for independent contractors. For one thing, a car is a necessity not easily supported by the wages most delivery people make.

That’s where GM’s Maven Gig has stepped in. The Maven Gig has formal partnerships with food-delivery platforms like GrubHub, Instacart, as well as courier and shipping service Roadie, along with ride-hailing services Lyft and Uber.

The company is working on expanding its list of on-demand partners as it seeks to ramp up the program.

“By 2020, an estimated 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will be made up of freelance workers,” Maven Gig says. “The nature of employment is changing, and Maven Gig is a nimble platform that will grow and adapt with the shift.”

Freelancers who subscribe to Maven Gig in San Francisco are offered access to a Chevrolet Bolt EV on a weekly basis starting at $229 per-week — plus taxes (including insurance, maintenance and free charging at EVGo stations for a “limited time”).

“Gig drivers typically drive for more than one app throughout the day,” GM notes. “Maven Gig is platform agnostic to allow drivers to switch between several brands, services and gigs.”

Other GM cars available in the SF Maven Gig program include the Chevrolet Cruze ($189/week plus taxes), Malibu ($199/week plus taxes) and Trax ($209/week plus taxes).

The program is particularly aimed at those Gig Economy workers who juggle several platforms for their assignments. GM is positioning Maven Gig as “a low-risk way to test the freelance economy and maximize earning potential by transitioning between multiple on-demand services.”

The company also says its continuing to experiment with pricing and will adjust offerings based on the gig economy and driver needs.

As restaurants increasingly rely on on-demand delivery apps to provide a new revenue stream and supplement in-dining experiences, GM is betting that companies will rush to find ways to make it easier to build constant sources of delivery people.

“Freelancers in the sharing economy want flexibility and Maven Gig is a seamless way to maximize opportunities,” said Rachel Bhattacharya, director of Commercial Mobility Strategy for Maven. “If the driver has a lull on one service they can easily flip to another and keep hustling.”


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Do On-Demand Food Delivery Apps ‘Eat’ Restaurant Visits?

Restaurants have felt considerable pressure the past few years the sign on with the on-demand food delivery apps from GrubHub/Seamless, Yelp’s Eat24, UberEats, DoorDash, Caviar, and general online courier services such as Postmates.

The question restaurants wrestle with is if people can have their food in the comfort of their own home — and save on beverages and other menu items typically driven by table-service — would they stop coming altogether?

When looking at individual categories like Quick Serve Restaurants and Casual Dining, the answer from a report by mobile data analytics provider Sense360, is complicated.

But for the most part, Sense360’s look into the connection between mobile-based food ordering and traffic to full-service restaurants and QSRs “found no significant decrease in restaurant visits and in-store orders from customers who have downloaded third-party delivery apps.”

To arrive at that conclusion in its report, Impact of Third Party Delivery Apps on In-Restaurant Orders, Sense360 tracked over 21 million anonymous full-service dining establishments and QSR visits to measure visit frequency both before and after downloading third-party delivery apps.

The bottom line is that there is no evidence that delivery apps drive significant, short-term drops in visitation, said Sense360 CEO and founder Eli Portnoy.

“With delivery among the most watched business opportunities in the restaurant industry today, our findings tell an interesting story of both who delivery app users are, and that downloading such apps did not impact their in-restaurant visit behaviors and frequency,” Portnoy said. “The data gives a clear and unequivocal view into this industry trend, provides clarity that restaurant operators and owners have been seeking to help them make the most informed and strategic business decisions.”

Apps’ Added Value

Sense360’s findings offer an expanded view of the benefits of app-based delivery by Los Angeles restaurants in an LATimes feature story back in March. That story noted that while LA residents tend to order in much less compared to their New York City counterparts, on-demand delivery apps carved out a new revenue stream for many independent local places like Mendocino Farms and even restaurant chains like Bareburger.

“When it comes to restaurant economics, it just makes sense that delivery is becoming an increasingly large portion of everyone’s business,” Allen Wong, president of Silverlake Chinese restaurant Fat Dragon and a partner at the Sticky Rice Group (which relies primarily on Caviar’s delivery platform) told the LATimes.

Challenges For QSRs and Casual Dining

As one example that proves out its thesis, Sense360 analyzed McDonald’s customers who downloaded the UberEats app during the brand’s delivery test pilot in participating Florida DMAs. The LA-based company, which collects anonymous always-on location and survey data from a panel of 2 million consumers, found that McDonald’s did not experience any noticeable visitation decrease among the UberEats users.

While that may augur well for McDonald’s planned expansion of mobile ordering and delivery, along with other omnichannel touchpoints to make its franchises more appealing to connected consumers, the overall balance between app-delivery and QSRs and casual dining appears a bit mixed.

But as Sense360 notes, it’s not a matter of delivery cannibalizing in-store table dining. Any disconnect between app ordering and restaurant traffic is due to factors in the individual habits of groups of consumers.

“It’s important to consider all the factors that come into play,” Portnoy said. “If delivery apps caused lower visitation rates, then the delivery apps could indicate cannibalization of in-store visits. However, if delivery apps merely indicate a different type of user according to socioeconomic level, demographic, or geography, who has a naturally lower rate of visitation, then creating opportunity for them to access the brand on a delivery app could drive incremental purchases.”

Here too, Sense360’s analysis of app downloads and restaurant visitation offer insights into those habits.

Case in point: Consumers with delivery apps installed on their phone go out to QSR and Fast Casual Restaurants 5 percent less than people without delivery apps, Sense360 said.

And that difference is why restaurant operations like Bloomin’ Brands — the corporate parent of casual dining franchises Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar — say its main competition isn’t other restaurants. It’s all the on-demand dining options consumers have available from their couch as they tap out orders on an increasing variety of smartphone delivery apps.

As brick-and-mortar categories from retail to groceries seek to find the right mix of methods to bridge online and offline business, the common thread is simply giving customers many and as customizable options as possible to meet their varied mindsets in the moment.

In a larger sense, app delivery can provide a crucial path of online discovery for restaurants, alongside the ability to find individual locations’ menu items via search queries and via maps, as Google My Business has recently begun providing. Along with tying together local business info across social media, reservations platforms, and review sites, restaurants can use mobile delivery platforms to enhance their marketing outreach.

Among the other findings from Sense360’s report:

  • Delivery apps are more popular and oft-used by consumers in top metro areas including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Those who download delivery apps tend to be of higher income, and visit fine dining restaurants two-and-half times more frequently than those without a delivery app.
  • Delivery app users who frequent QSRs tend to visit newer and higher-priced concepts such as Chipotle and Starbucks more often than traditional quick-serve locations such as McDonalds or Hardees.

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The Future Of Car Talk: The Weather Company Runs First ‘Cognitive Ads’ For Toyota

The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is taking another big leap in connecting artificial intelligence and advertising with the launch of what the company claims is the “first cognitive ads” for the auto industry in a campaign to promote the Toyota Prius Prime.

The Watson Ads for the Prius Prime will run in The Weather Channel App and on weather.com.

The campaign follows recent uses of Watson Ads by the Campbell Soup Company, Unilever, and GSK Consumer Healthcare, respectively began their first foray into marketing that promises to understand and respond intelligently to consumers’ voice-activated and written queries.

The most recent effort involved Watson Ads being aligned with the annual return of the GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Allergy Tracker digital tools to promote relief through its Flonase brand.

And now, with Toyota, the Watson ads invite consumers connect with brands with a personalized, one-to-one conversation via voice and text.

This Watson Ads experience is primarily focused on driving awareness and brand engagement, says Sarah Ripmaster, head of automotive sales at The Weather Company. “Toyota’s goal with this campaign is to reach and engage consumers who are interested in the Prius Prime.

Text or voice queries are answered directly in the ads, which can also send local Toyota dealership information.

The cognitive ad format combines machine learning, natural language understanding, and integrated dialogue tools designed to deliver on the promise of a personalized user experience.

IBM Watson can discern a user’s intent — as opposed to reacting to a keyword search — to best respond to the consumer, The Weather Company says.

Using Watson Ads, Toyota is employing the power of AI to “engage and educate” consumers about Prius Prime. Consumers are invited to ask questions like, “How can I be a better Prius driver” or “Can you tell me about the Prius’s new features?”

By connecting one-on-one and offering a consumer the new car information they specifically ask for, the effort can guiding decision making during the purchase consideration stage, Ripmaster says.

“Watson Ads put the consumers in the driver’s seat,” she says. “Instead of passively experiencing a brand’s message, consumers are actively engaging with the ad to learn more about car on their own terms. This means the experience empowers consumer to ask the questions that truly matter the most to them during their auto shopping journey, and can ultimately help impact brand consideration.

“On Toyota’s side, they are able get deeper insight into the types of questions that consumers are asking during the decision-making process, which can then influence future creative messaging and media strategies,” Ripmaster added.

The Toyota Watson Ad includes several additional features that extend the interaction, including exploring different Prius models, branded video content, and a Toyota dealer locator.

“In the competitive automotive market, the ability to showcase a helpful and beneficial customer experience is invaluable,” says John Lisko, executive communications director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Toyota’s creative and media shop. ”

We are entering the next frontier of marketing, with cognition and AI poised to take consumer engagement to the next level, and Watson Ads is a prime example of that shift and the great potential we have,”Lisko adds. “We have leveraged IBM Watson in other areas of our business such as the programmatic video campaign of 300 custom pieces for Toyota RAV4 and most recently, the Mirai campaign on Facebook in which the tool wrote thousands of ads and we continue to uncover valuable insights.”

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xAd Rebrands As GroundTruth In Expansion Effort To Broaden Location Data Services Beyond Ads

As the location technology landscape continues to grow amid rising demand to power technologies such as artificial intelligence and a wider array of industries such as real estate and healthcare, xAd has decided to rebrand itself and will now be known as “GroundTruth.”

The new name reflects the 8-year-old company’s evolution from its origins as a hyperlocal ad mobile ad network to a programmatic location marketplace.

Now, with the rechristening, the company seeks to broaden its vision amid an international expansion and last February’s acquisition of its first consumer-facing tech property, the meteorological info service Weatherbug.

As GroundTruth, xAd is also vowing to “decouple” its advertising and media sales services from its location data analysis so that its insights can stand on their own.

“The name xAd was too limiting for our business,” said Dipanshu “D” Sharma, CEO of GroundTruth. “The power of location data doesn’t have to be limited to media and can be realized in other applications from real estate, traffic and out-of-home planning to layering in weather to determine its impact on visits, something we recognized after acquiring WeatherBug. As GroundTruth, we’re able to realize our ambitions beyond media.”

xAd’s transformed into GroundTruth

According to the plan, GroundTruth will continue to support marketers and agencies through products like its geofencing data visualization tool Blueprints, which debuted in 2015, and Footprints, which rolled out in 2014 to provide real-time data on consumers’ mobile movements near brick-and-mortar businesses.

Just last month, xAd initiated its new performance-based ad format, dubbed Cost-Per-Visit, which guarantees marketers’ ROI, since they don’t have to pay unless their ad generated a walk-in.

“As a brand, xAd represented ‘location advertising’ with ‘x’ being ‘x marks the spot for advertising,’” GroundTruth CMO Monica Ho told GeoMarketing. “But we found over the last year-and-a-half it actually became limiting. People, especially those professionals who were not often involved in our category, struggled with what the name was.

“When we explained the vision of the company, we always focused on advertising primarily,” Ho continued. “But the rebrand signifies the evolution of our product set and our offerings. It also represents where we want to go as a company in terms of making core investments and sharpening our strategic focus.”

GroundTruth’s dictim: Build off something real.

The Rebranding Process

The rebrand was produced in collaboration with global brand strategy firm, Siegel+Gale. Aside from the new name, visual identity and there is something of a brand position in the form of a dictim: Build off something real.

While the challenge of switching gears is always a daunting gamble for an established brand, the company says the timing couldn’t be better: GroundTruth picks up from xAd with a first-party database of 95 million active monthly users and 17 million active daily users, across 100 million places and points of interest across 21 countries — in other words, it has significant reach and scale.

In terms of employee growth, xAd had 83 employees at the end of 2013 and 450 employees at the end of 2016 — before the purchase of Weatherbug. Meanwhile, since its launch in 2009, the company now known as GroundTruth has raised about $116 million over six funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.

The process for remaking the brand name and positioning began about 10 months ago, Ho told us.

“We needed a brand and a platform that represented our larger story and gave us the room to grow in the future,” Ho said. “But we also thought long and hard about name that would accurately and fully represent the ideals and values of the company.”

And how was GroundTruth decided on as the new name?

“We thought GroundTruth was perfect, simply because it represented a ‘fundamental truth’ about seeing things from the ground level and up,” Ho said.

Third-Party Verification Secured From InfoScout

In addition to widening its view on serving clients outside of the confines of ad campaigns, GroundTruth commissioned market researcher InfoScout to verify “the precision and coverage of its data” at select retailers.

According to the independent survey based on a representative U.S. panel, GroundTruth is able to interpret physical location with more than a 90 percent accuracy rate.  The “Accuracy Audit” analyzed 10,000 matched panelists who shopped at a sample of key retailers, consistently submitted receipts to InfoScout, and used location-based services via GroundTruth.

“InfoScout has the largest purchase panel in the U.S.,” Ho said. “We matched our data with InfoScout’s purchase panel, which represents 1 out of every 500 retail visits in the U.S. We were able to see 1 out of 3 retail visits that we saw in our platform and matched it to their purchase receipts.”

The importance of third-party verification was a crucial step in the process of transforming xAd as a media sales marketplace based on location to being a provider of data and insights based on consumers’ geospatial patterns. After all, clients don’t trust a partner who simply “grades their own homework.”

As a media seller, xAd relied on its five-year partnership with attribution specialist Placed — which last week was acquired by Snap — as well as online audience measurement firm comScore to verify its the location data that powered its ads. But as it looks to build a business beyond those industry ad metrics, it needs to maintain an ongoing system that can say whether or not its location tech is accurate.

“When we’re interpreting the location data that comes across our system, you need to be able to differentiate whether that person is in a Target store or if they’re nail salon next door,” Ho said.

In just its early trial period, GroundTruth has “made significant headway” in brand safety, assessing viewability, and guarding against ad fraud, Ho said. The company will to continue to investment in third-party verification and validation of not just its data, but GroundTruth’s entire platform.

“InfoScout is just the first step in that process,” Ho said. “There will be more coming,” she added, possibly hinting that GroundTruth may be accredited by the Media Ratings Council, which was established by Congress in the 1960s to serve as a watchdog for TV ratings’ validity in the use of broadcast advertising. The MRC has since gone on to serve as a clearinghouse for all manner of ad measurement procedures, including online and mobile, and recently oversaw the IAB’s geo-data and location ad standards.

(Location) Data As Service

The emergence of Data-as-a-Service, as a more narrow adjunct to software business models, is particularly important in the location space. As different signals provide varying levels of actionable intelligence, data quality and accuracy remains a major issue for tech company’s clients.

Perhaps more than any other targeting or analytics capability, getting location wrong even by several feet can severely diminish the value of geo-data.

As Sharma, who also founded xAd, has described it, location technology is a utility that can not only tell all kinds of vital details about a business’s place, as well as who’s been there, but it can intently extrapolate deep knowledge about consumers’ behavior and shopping profiles as well as power connected intelligence devices’ responses to users’ queries.

“Data and insights have always been a part of the company,” Ho said. “But in the past, we’ve always forced the data/insights together with a media and ad sales component. The rebrand marks the fact that we’re ready to decouple data/insights from ad sales.

“We will always offer a data and targeting solution” Ho said, referring to the above-mentioned products like Blueprint. “But the way the category is unfolding, and marketers and agencies, as well as areas outside of those buckets, such as analysts, can use our data on its own. And this is about allowing that flexibility.”

xAd’s Footprints

Scratching The Surface

Both Blueprint and Footprints were core technologies at xAd and they’ll certainly remain so at GroundTruth, Ho said.

“We only scratched the surface in the past, because these technologies were always tied to media purposes,” she said. “So we want to continue to invest in our core tech, but in different ways based on the variety of audiences we see as potential customers.”

As for how products like Blueprints will evolve under GroundTruth, Ho described it as something that’s always been an internal tool that to integrate accurate mapping data with its location targeting.

“In the future, we’ll expand Blueprints to be more open, more crowdsourced,” Ho said. “In those future cases, one of our partners or someone outside our category could look at location data and unique segments, we’ll let them identify the area they’re looking at. From there, they’ll be able to pull unique, custom data sets and behavioral insights from something like Blueprints.”

Next Steps

As it has in recent years, GroundTruth will have a presence at this coming week’s international gathering of the global ad industry in Cannes.

But don’t expect a heavy marketing effort to ensure the name is known far and wide, Ho said.

“We’re going to communicate to our existing client base,” Ho when asked about the communications effort around this move. “But the next few months will be an internal focus for the most part.”

In the meantime, GroundTruth will steadily seek to expand its work in non-ad areas. While real estate,  health care, traffic/smart city planning has generally been far afield from the company’s purview, Ho is quick to note that projects in those categories is not at all unfamiliar work.

“Real estate is not necessarily a new area for us,” Ho said. “But we’ve have certain scenarios come up in the past, where we’ve been asked to provide store planning. Or analysts have asked us for behavioral data and insights tied to certain places. We’ve had so many opportunities, but at the time, we chose not to invest further. Now, with the new brand, and the new technology focus on data-based solutions, we’re really diving in to coming to market with a new set of offerings and products that can address issues not tied to advertising.”

Just as with its promotion of the new brand and direction, GroundTruth is not in a feverish rush to get its positioning solidified within a month or two. As Ho noted, it will take time to sink in both for its staff and the wider marketplace of new and existing clients and allies.

“This is a big change,” Ho added. “Our move into data and insights is an important one. And until our employees really embody and feel empowered by the brand, that’s when we can make good on this new promise and direction. There will be a bigger marketing push later in the year. There is a lot more to come.”

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YP Taps Verve To Help Expand National-To-Local Ad Reach

YP has signed up Verve as a display ad distribution partner as the company, which bills itself as “The Real Yellow Pages” looks to expand its reach and focus to serving national brands that want to target local consumers.

The deal comes a week after the rollout of ypWebsite Pro, which helps local brands create central internet hub with a mobile-responsive, SEO-ready website.

This agreement between YP and Verve is actually an expansion of an earlier partnership to power YP’s mobile display for SMBs by extending similar capabilities to national brands.

YP’s pitch to brands is that consumers arrive at YP’s sites by searching for a specific local product or service.

The company backs that up by citing conducted by comScore on behalf of YP, 74 percent of YP users make a purchase after searching, and those searchers spend an average of 34 percent more per purchase than all searchers.

Therefore, serving YP’s display ads to those “intent-focused” consumers would seem to be particularly valuable — especially outside of the confines of the websites within YP’s own network. Working with Verve will spread those display ads to placements within the apps and publisher sites that Verve is aligned with.

“With millions of users, YP is committed to connecting local businesses with consumers wherever they are, on whatever device or medium they’re using,” said YP CEO Jared Rowe. “We rely on industry leading partners like Verve to help us expand our reach beyond our owned and operated channels. This agreement allows us to focus on our large consumer audience while delivering even more value to our clients.”

Although the emergence of connected intelligence through voice-activated digital assistants like Siri and Alexa may soon call the utility of a brand’s website into question, the fact remains that brands need a central hub for the vital business information consumers need, Stu MacFarlane, Executive Vice President of Products and Marketing at YP, noted in an interview with GeoMarketing last week.

“Websites are foundational to connecting local businesses with consumers, and a strong SEO strategy is critical to delivering traffic to their sites,” MacFarlane said.

From Verve’s vantage point, the idea of display ads being “static” or leading to banner blindness, particularly within the mobile space, ignores the fact that they still reach and influence millions of consumers.

“Mobile marketing is far more than a banner displayed on a phone,” said Verve CEO and President Tom Kenney. “It is a powerful opportunity for brands and publishers to deliver extremely relevant and localized messages in contextual moments that resonate with consumers. We look forward to combining the Verve location-powered insights and targeting model with YP’s exceptionally large user base to deliver superior consumer experiences and tangible business results for advertisers.”



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Why Twitter’s Direct Message API Update Matters For Brick-And-Mortars

Twitter has updated its direct message APIs, allowing businesses to add buttons in direct messages — a feature aimed at making it easier for users to interact with brands outside of DM conversations, whether drafting a Tweet, following a businesses’ account, or opening another website within the Twitter app to get more information.

The company has also added two new features for developers, aimed at helping them “understand how a conversation started and which app created a message,” Twitter’s Jon Cipriano wrote in a blog post.

Essentially, the rollout aims to take the power of an engagement in direct message and extend it beyond that one conversation: It makes it easier for fans of a brand or local business to subsequently tweet their support, navigate to a mobile site (and perhaps make a purchase), or even ask for location info and find their way to a store. And on the developer side, it potentially creates a greater understanding of what led a customer to send a DM in the first place.

Additionally, Twitter acknowledges that plenty of larger businesses are engaging customers in messaging through a bot. This makes sense; after all, chatbot interaction is at an all-time high, with CoverGirl’s “Kalani Bot” even seeing 14x the engagement of the actual influencer the bot was modeled after.

“For many businesses, delivering a great customer experience through a bot in Direct Messages depends on helping people complete a task other than sending a message,” Twitter’s Ian Cairns wrote in blog post, explaining Twitter’s decision to add buttons to help businesses drive more actions. For example, “at the right point in the conversation, people might want to Tweet to share a coupon or offer, challenge their followers to a game, or tell the world about new content they just discovered. The… combination of public and private messaging on Twitter makes it easy for people to become brand advocates by Tweeting about an experience. And by combining this feature with the new Direct Message Card, those Tweets can then help other users discover and start talking to your bot.”

Making (DM) Moves

Twitter has made quite a few updates to its Direct Message recently: This API update comes on the heels of the company’s April announcement that it would open direct message location sharing for brick-and-mortars to customers.

As we wrote at that time, the update was critical for local businesses on Twitter — many of whom rely almost heavily on social media for low-cost marketing with a personal touch — because it allowed them to use the Direct Message feature to draw in customers with location data by telling them where the closest store is.

“Helping people find a location nearby makes perfect sense for brick-and-mortar businesses,” Cairns said at the time. “Now that businesses can easily incorporate location sharing into their customer experiences, expect to see other innovative location-aware use cases in Direct Messages.”

Now, with this latest update, businesses have the chance to more easily expand their social following — and give those engaged customers more online (and perhaps offline) experiences to choose from.

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Snap Layers On Location Services, Adds Factual To Geo-Data Partner Mix

Snap is adding geo-data specialist Factual’s Global Places data as the social media “camera” and messaging platform continues to build up a roster of location technology providers.

The deal comes a week after Snap acquired attribution platform Placed. That purchase came after months of assembling location data and digital presence knowledge from partners such as Foursquare and Yext (full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More details on that relationship here).

Factual’s Global Places data covers more than 100 million places across 52 countries. The company has also found itself in demand by other high-profile tech brands such as Uber, Apple Maps, and Facebook, which just expanded its nearly year-old partnership with Factual worldwide.

“As the neutral location data company making data accessible to everyone, our mission has been to build the biggest trove of location data in the world and share it with developers, marketers and enterprises,” said Factual SVP of Revenue Rob Jonas in a blog post heralding the deal. “We believe location is an incredibly valuable signal and a core differentiator for mobile based products, and will be more and more embraced by the best mobile companies.

“Snap Inc.’s innovative use of location has continuously impressed us, and we are thrilled to partner with the company to help drive more fun and surprising user experiences,” Jonas added. “During Snap Inc’s first earnings call in May 2017, the company announced it had 166 million daily active users on average.”

While Snap representatives have not be available for comment on the Factual deal, it’s clear that location has long been a crucial aspect of its product line, particularly its Geofilters, which have been available to marketers for two years, starting with McDonald’s in Aug. 2015.

Snapchat rolled out Geofilters — illustrations that can be overlaid onto photos while in specific locations —back in December 2014, but were initially unbranded. For example, a “snapper” on the island of Manhattan could choose a geofilter that simply read “Manhattan” in creative text. But particularly in the past year, Snap has sought to find deeper ways to build a better advertising and consumer experience around the concept of location sharing.

For example, in mid-August, Snapchat acquired mobile search and local recommendation app Vurb for a reported $110+ million to help promote discovery of local places — something that Foursquare’s flagship app also provides.

It is not clear how Factual’s data will fit in — or operate separately — with Snap’s other location intelligence tools.

What is clear, is that Snap, like most platforms, marketers, and agencies, view location data as fundamental to the way it engages and appeals to its users and marketing partners.

As marketers continue to become more data-driven and ROI focused, publishers that offer measurement tools that show a direct correlation between online campaigns and offline results can gain competitive advantage with brands,” said Brian Czarny, SVP of marketing at location intelligence platform Factual, told us last week when asked to comment on the Snap/Placed deal.

“That’s where having access to location data becomes so critical,”Czarny said, adding, “from the initial targeting of an audience all the way through to measuring device movement for attribution – and publishers will increasingly partner with location data providers like Factual or seek to acquire the data themselves.”

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Via Partners With The New York Times For Location-Based Subscription Promo

On-demand ride sharing app Via has partnered with The New York Times to give riders complimentary eight-week digital subscriptions of the paper to riders in New York who purchase a monthly “ViaPass,” letting them catch up on the news during their daily commute rides — a bid to help both entities boost exposure and discovery on mobile.

This isn’t the first time Via has partnered with digital or physical businesses in a bid to compete with the larger-scale Uber Pool and Lyft Line. But while the benefit of the promotion for riders is clear, it’s a reminder of the fact that businesses of all stripes need to do more in order to stay top-of-mind in the age of intelligent search.

On-Demand In The World Of Intelligent Assistants

While the nature of Via’s app and the NYT’s mobile subscription model give this effort a digital bent, promotions of this type are as old as advertising itself. But why is it more important than ever for brands to make a memorable impact in order to get discovered today?

As SessionM CRO Bill Clifford put it last month, “voice, AI, and platforms like Amazon Alexa or Google Home present a pretty interesting challenge. If I’m in my house and I just say, ‘Hey Google, order me a pizza,’ it’s really up to Google what they come back with. So the platforms have more and more control for operating this invisible storefront that’s driven by an algorithm. Brands need to [figure out] how they’re going to deal with that.”

In the case of on-demand ride apps like Via, that means getting customers to say “call me a Via” or “download Via” to their connected devices — rather than simply “call me a car.” In other words, as search and discovery become even more deeply tied to voice (and AI), brands of all stripes must think about how to make sure that customers ask for them when given the chance — meaning that providing personalized offers or experiences that improve the user experience are more important than ever.

“This is just a new storefront, and we don’t see it. So I think the point is, it becomes increasingly important and integral for a brand to create a direct relationship,” Clifford concluded — and while it remains to be seen if Via’s NYT partnership drives adoption, promotions that integrate digital touch points can be one integral part of that. “It’s a lasting, ongoing engagement, so that when you do ask Google, that brand is top of mind — and you’re giving the consumer control, not the robots.”

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How RaceTrac Drove Visits To Its Gas Station Convenience Stores 47 Percent Higher

A combination of rich media and location targeting last holiday season helped  RaceTrac generate a 47 percent lift in traffic at the gas station convenience store chain’s 450 outlets across the southern United States.

The December 2016 campaign was run by full-service digital agency Vert, along with design firm R/GA, and geo-data ad and attribution platform NinthDecimal.

The trio collaborated on developing “a dynamic, engaging ‘drive-to-store’ mobile ad unit that was both eye-catching and easily trackable. The rich media ad was designed to guide mobile users to the nearest RaceTrac convenience store using their current location.

NinthDecimal then built an audience segment comprised of consumers who were most likely to respond to the ad based on previous visits to RaceTrac and its competitors’ locations. Using NinthDecimal’s Location Graph data set of mobile audiences’ devices, it served the ad to those “qualified users” when they were within 10 miles of a RaceTrac convenience store.

The 47 percent lift includes both existing and new customers, RaceTrac and NinthDecimal execs said.

“By using NinthDecimal’s physical-world data, we were able to successfully reach not only our loyal guests, but also our competitors’ audiences, and drive these individuals into our locations in a measurable way,” said Jamie Rodgers, brand director of RaceTrac.

The campaign’s results come as marketers have widely embraced the use of location data as more than just a way to send an ad to the “right person at the right place in real-time.”

The frequent goal for location data these days is two-fold: understand and predict patterns of consumer behavior based on where they go, then use unique device data — anonymized, of course, most platforms are quick to note — and then, determine if such targeted ads were able to drive that consumer into a store to complete a purchase as a result.

“In the era of data-driven marketing, it’s incredibly valuable for brands to understand the effectiveness of their ad spend down to the last cent,” said David Staas, president of NinthDecimal. “The RaceTrac marketing campaign shows how brands can leverage mobile location data to reach new and existing customers as well as deliver real world business results through digital advertising.”

The Rich Media Factor

The emphasis on rich media in conjunction with the location insights NinthDecimal is also worth noting.

For one thing, rich media, which tends to include moving graphics and sound, can also be “dynamic” — that is, they can be seen to resonate (or fail to) with consumers in real-time, allowing marketers and their agencies and platform partners to update the messaging and delivery on the fly.

When asked how much of a factor the tools associated rich media were in generating the 47 percent lift in traffic at RaceTrac, a NinthDecimal representative said “rich media offers dynamic messaging that corresponds to several live variables during the flight of an ad, changing (in real time) creative to reflect those conditions.

“In this instance, identifying the nearest RaceTrac location for users based on their current location creates a unique experience,” the NinthDecimal rep added. “Removing the hurdle and extra step of having a user search for a location by inserting a real-time map in the unit itself, certainly provides high level of value that a standard banner may not have the ability to offer.”

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