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This letter is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time.

Google Opens Up Direct-To-Search And Map Posts To Local Businesses

Google My Business clients have a new discovery tool that will let their announcements, promotions, events, and other news be found directly in query results and on their Google Maps listings.

Dubbed Google Post, the feature was first offered to select major brands, celebrities, and to the presidential candidates who wanted an easy way of getting the word out about location-based news they had, such as special appearances and events.

The Posts will appear within Google business listings. Customers only have to “tap” the Post box to read the full item. Users can also share the Posts to friends via email or social channels.

“With 82 percent of people turning to search engines to find local information, your Google listing is the ideal place to showcase what is unique about your business,” writes Rosa Wu, product manager Google My Business, in a blog post. “Even when customers know exactly what they’re looking for, they still want to get to know the business and see what it has to offer. That’s why Google My Business is bringing Posts to local businesses — an easy way to help attract new customers and build relationships with the customers you already have.”

The latest tool in Google My Business follows the recently added ability for restaurants to publish their entire, detailed menus within their search results across Google could change the way eateries are ultimately discovered by patrons interested in specific meals.

Like the direct-to-search and maps feature for menus, Posts takes the friction out of having to leave Google Maps, wait for an outside menu site to load, and then have to return to the main app for directions and other details such as reviews, directions, and hours.

It all stems from Google’s determination to offer users a complete walled garden where they don’t have to lose the ease of staying in its search app functions, whether it’s to hail a car or book a fitness appointment.

The key difference with Posts is that it allows for the easy distribution and discovery of time-sensitive news that a local business wants new and existing customers to know.

Among the ideas that Google suggests local businesses might use Posts for:

  • Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers.
  • Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location.
  • Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals.

From there, businesses can choose the ways consumers can take an action from a Post. For example, they can connect with customers directly from their Google listing by giving them a “one-click path” to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even make a purchase directly online.

“Seventy percent of people look at multiple businesses before making a final choice,” Wu says. “With Posts, you can share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Maps to help your business stand out to potential customers. And by including custom calls-to-action directly on your business listing, you can choose how to connect with your customers.”

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Wisconsin Startup Points The Way For Grocers To Challenge Amazon/Whole Foods Onslaught

Even before the looming prospect of a combined Amazon and Whole Foods upending the grocery space, supermarket independents and chains alike appeared to be ready to meet consumers’ desire for crafting seamless online/offline shopping experiences.

As eMarketer has noted in its look at e-commerce grocery shopping, the number of consumers who purchase groceries digitally will rise significantly this year. Citing research from retail marketing and analytics software company Unata and consultancy Brick Meets Click, close to one-third (31 percent) of U.S. internet users said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to buy groceries online in 2017—up from 19 percent in 2016.

While much of the focus on the broader on-demand delivery space has tended to revolve around what is happening in major cities like New York and San Francisco, GrocerKey has been ramping up its work with grocers in its native Wisconsin for the past two years.

With online grocery sales expected leap 355 percent to $123 billion by 2023 from  $27 billion in the U.S. in 2014, according to Brick Meets Click, it’s clear that the marketplace won’t belong to one player. And that’s what GrocerKey is planning for,

In essence, GrocerKey is a white label solution for grocers that want to create their own e-commerce shopping platform and operate it under their own brand name, as opposed to relying on a third party like Instacart or Postmates.

GrocerKey’s main client — and lead investor — is Janesville, WI-based Woodman’s Market, which runs 18 stores across the state and in northern Illinois.

The Madison, WI-based startup’s grocery focus goes back almost 10 years, notes CEO and founder Jeremy Neren.

“I ran an online on-demand grocery delivery service in Madison, WI for close to a decade. That led up to starting GrocerKey. We warehoused the product ourselves for over 8 years. I had a strong desire to expand that business, and in an effort to make the business more scalable, I shifted the operation from a warehouse model to operating out of a local grocery store and leveraging their inventory. That local grocery store happened to have their own e-commerce platform powered by the market leader in white label e-commerce grocery technology.”

Duly inspired, Neren and his team pivoted into starting GrocerKey and began pitching local grocery retailers.

“In early 2015, we were able to partner with Woodman’s Markets, the largest grocery chain in Wisconsin,” Neren said. “They not only contracted with us to use our technology, but licensed us to help them physically build the business on their behalf. Woodman’s also invested about $2.1 million in GrocerKey and they are our lead investor.”

In addition to Woodman’s, GrocerKey has recently signed up three other supermarkets on top of its 11 existing retail partners — Neren won’t disclose the names just yet. The company, which has over 100 employees, is planning to build out functions that will allow for its supermarket clients’ customers to blend online and in-store shopping.

GeoMarketing: On-demand delivery is generally viewed as concentrated in upscale, tech-centric, large cities. How would you describe the demand in Wisconsin and the Midwest for grocery delivery?

Jeremy Neren: No doubt about it – there is larger consumer demand for e-commerce grocery in other parts of the country. That said, the demand is increasing everywhere in all markets. We did 5,000 orders with an average $150 basket-size last month out of a half-dozen stores on ShopWoodmans.com and a small marketing budget. It’s all growing organically.

Every market has its own unique pull. In Madison and Milwaukee, you tend to have some awful weather for a substantial part of the year. That’s a natural driver of this business – people don’t want to go outside in zero-degree weather anywhere.

So we try to tailor services to the individual markets we’re in and see what makes sense for that individual retailer. This is definitely not a cookie-cutter approach.

What are the pain points GrocerKey solves for the markets you work with?

The biggest pain points we’re trying to solve for grocers in e-commerce is that their stores are designed for the brick-and-mortar environment, not e-commerce fulfillment. Right now, there’s a surplus of brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. So retailers are motivated to get into e-commerce, for one, to leverage those existing stores. They don’t want to spend even more money to build a warehouse to develop a separate e-commerce business.

So the question is, “How do we take an inherently inefficient environment and create an efficient business on top of it?”

In many cases, retailers don’t often have great intel on exactly where products are in their store. So we create a “pick-path” in their store — then, when you’re assembling an e-commerce order, you’re using the most efficient path possible to shop for whoever is taking that e-commerce order. That allows the store to reduce labor costs and then ultimately provide a better value for the customer.

What are the issues GrocerKey solves for consumers?

The biggest challenge is out-of-stocks. As a consumer, if you don’t see the item you want on the shelf, you move on and grab another similar item. If you buy an item online and when it’s delivered, it’s not there, that’s a miserable experience.

How do you solve for that? We let the consumer choose a backup item in case their first choice isn’t available and we provide suitable backup options for staff that assemble online orders.

How do you help the markets you work with spur interest and usage of on-demand grocery delivery?

We are doing more work with third-party platforms to create adoption. We’re utilizing the strength of the retailer’s brand and providing them with a number of robust marketing tools that are built into our platform.

The role of Connected Intelligence and voice-activated search and ordering through Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Okay Google, and others is becoming mainstream. What impact will that have on the way people shop for groceries?

We’re bullish on the idea of voice-activation. E-commerce is all about convenience and removing friction when it comes to the shopping experience. Voice-activation and artificial intelligence advances that idea of convenience. It’s going to be an integral piece of e-commerce and shopping going forward. It’s already having an impact, as people are ordering groceries on Amazon now.

What do you think the Amazon/Whole Foods deal means for established grocers?

The Amazon deal demonstrates the need for grocery retailers to move faster in their digital efforts. There was already pressure to do so, given the rise in consumer demand and pressure being put on those stores by Amazon. So that pressure will only increase with Amazon having a nationwide brick-and-mortar presence to add to its arsenal of digital tools to reach consumers and bring them into their overall ecosystem.

It requires an entirely different operational approach than what Amazon is accustomed to, in terms of translating its e-commerce approach to serve customers in-store.

It’s also important to consider that strengthening your digital presence does not simply mean e-commerce, it means providing more touch points to reach consumers — e-commerce is a component of that, but you must also consider how to augment the in-store experience via digital touch points such as value added native mobile apps.

What’s next for GroceryKey?

We’re in the process of launching several retailers. And we’re trying to encompass more in-store shopping tools, so we’re becoming more of an omnichannel platform as opposed to a strictly e-commerce company. You can build your shopping list and give them the same item availability and pick-path information that we give to e-commerce shoppers. Eventually, that functionality will lead to mobile self-checkout within the store.

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How Marketers Can Integrate OOH, Social To Create Context — At Scale

It’s long been the marketer’s “holy grail” to get the right message to the right consumer at the right time — but actually delivering that personalized engagement at scale is a bigger challenge.

In a panel discussion at at Cannes Lions dedicated to bridging digital and real-world experiences, execs from Kinetic, Maxus Global, and Clear Channel talked with GeoMarketing‘s Lauryn Chamberlain about using OOH to drive location-specific context and then social media to amplify that message — plus, what’s going on with the future of smart cities. An excerpted version of the conversation, below.

Let’s start with some examples: How have you worked to bridge the online and offline worlds through integrating mobile, social, and out-of-home in your respective work? What have you seen people really engage with? And on the flip side, what hasn’t worked so well — what can we work on as an industry? 

Richard Stokes, Worldwide Chief Development Officer, Maxus Global: I’ll talk about a very specific example: a campaign for the Dutch Kidney Foundation. Obviously, that’s not somewhere where you’re trying to sell something, but charities are under a lot of pressure from a fundraising point of view and from an awareness point of view — they [needed to] get the message out.

What they did was to take a story about a single patient, Fabian, who was on dialysis. What happens when you’re on dialysis? You’re superman to your kids, you’re a sportsman, you’re a businessman — but your world shrinks, and your world becomes the bedroom because you have to spend most of the day in dialysis.

What we did is to take the fact that here’s Fabian in his tiny bedroom — and then ask, ‘where can we broadcast this to that is the exact opposite?’ The exact opposite was a central station [in the Netherlands], a very busy transport hub. A single digital panel [incorporating social] allowed Fabian to communicate, and interact, and speak to people who stopped in front of him. Kind of take the world into his tiny little bedroom in that way.

The interaction that they had was fantastic, but it didn’t stop there. In a way, what was interesting for me, was to see how out-of-home gave this campaign the physical context, and social gave it scale. Everything was captured [for] Fabian, and the perspective then went out on Facebook, on his page. The campaign was a huge success, and their subsequent donations have been huge. I think that’s a great example of how mobile, social, and out-of-home can work together [to do more] than people might expect.

Mauricio Sabogal, Global CEO, Kinetic: What is interesting is, who are some of the biggest advertisers in out of home? Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon. It might seem kind of weird, because their media assets such that, well, why are they advertising out-of-home? That’s a good question, and the answer is, because they need to be direct, and really they’re getting [incredibly useful] traffic data through interactive [OOH.] They see something in the everyday, they collect it, they analyze it.

But it’s not just about connecting; it is about connecting the strategy at the right moment, to the right company, to the right communication, and to continue to go from there. Once you’ve done that, the question is how to amplify [the message]. [That’s] a good way that social media platforms come into play.

What are the challenges of trying to deliver that contextually relevant message, at the right time, via out-of-home? What have you learned?

Stefan Lameire, Chief Customer & Revenue Officer, Clear Channel International: As Mauricio said, the challenge of technology is that a lot of things are possible — and it’s not just about [connected technology just for its own sake.] I really never forget that what we do with technology should be consumer relevant.

The consumers are driving a different effect, and here’s something we learned: We were putting [a touchpoint] on the side of our panels, where people could actually interact through their smartphones, using NFC, QR, whatever.

The idea behind doing that is really strong, I think, and we indeed had thousand of companies across the globe doing it. But we ran into the issue that the process of downloading coupon, or being told to ‘do this, do that,’ was not consumer relevant. The consumer felt this was advertising; it was not a genuine choice to interact with the brand. [We had to] rethink what kind of information people would actually want — and when. Like, in the UK, there’s a great example of [interacting at taxi stands] to give people information about drivers or about the city.

My two main takeaways would be: Whatever you do with technology, make it consumer relevant — and try to make it at scale so that it’ll use the value of the reach that algorithms have to offer.

Stefan, you mentioned the taxi example in the UK. In many ways, the rise of OOH that is interactive in real-time is driving the development of smart cities. How can you deliver that consumer relevance in smart cities? And what kind of opportunities do they open up for marketers?

Mauricio: We’re [seeing that] evolution now; we’ll be having not just wifi, but internet of things, and many other technologies available to activate in cities.

We see many aspects in cities that can be connected, and you will see thousands of facets of this. The most important part of this, for marketers to think about, is how to demonstrate efficiency and how to demonstrate the right alignment.

Stefan: If you look at this as a media owner, I think, we are restoring assets by delivering services. In the last two years, we’ve [invested in] smart bikes, and wifi, and our company really invested a couple hundred million dollars. We are trying to drive this [evolution], to actually grasp how to support and develop [smart cities].

Some of the important solutions, and the really exciting things start to come in when you are starting to apply wifi, or whatever technology is, and not just in terms of delivering service. A lot of the potential [for marketers] comes from the real-time data that will be there. There are a lot more opportunities around collecting user data. It’s very interesting to see how that will evolve.

Richard: There’s also this opportunity as we look to the future of self-driving cars: You think about the two, three hours that someone has in their car [commuting] every day, that becomes an opportunity — a very valuable one. There’s a value exchange: Maybe I don’t have to actually pay for this car ride, when I’m getting to work, because I’m exposed to X amount of messages, and that’s a very context rich and mass reach environment. I think we can see that quite soon.

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The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning

The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning | Simplifying The Market

We often discuss the difference in family wealth between homeowner households and renter households. Much of that difference is the result of the equity buildup that homeowners experience over the time that they own their home. In a report recently released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), they reveal how valuable equity can be in retirement planning.

Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate at EBRI, recently authored a report, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth, in which he reveals:

“Individual account retirement plan assets, plus home equity, represent almost all of what families have to use for retirement expenses outside of Social Security and traditional pensions. Those families without individual account assets typically have very low overall assets, so they have almost nothing to draw from for retirement expenses.”

The report echoed the findings of a working paper, Home Equity Patterns among Older American Households, authored by Barbara Butrica and Stipica Mudrazija of Urban Institute. Fannie Mae highlighted these findings for their blog The Home Story this past winter, quoting Butrica and Mudrazija:

 “For most adults near traditional retirement age, a home is their most valuable asset — dwarfing retirement accounts, other financial assets, and other nonfinancial assets. Although relatively few retirees tap into their home equity, having it provides financial security… In fact, many retirement security experts argue that the conventional three-legged stool of retirement resources — Social Security, pensions, and savings — is incomplete because it ignores the home.”

USAToday interviewed two area experts to comment on the EBRI report. Randy Bruns, a private wealth adviser with HighPoint Planning Partners, agreed with the findings:

“Social Security and home equity are major pieces of the retirement puzzle.”

Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services and author of Reverse Mortgages: How to use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement, said having the equity without a plan to use it won’t help:

“Home equity is a very important asset for American retirees, and so it is important to think about how to make best use of home equity in retirement planning.”

Bottom Line

Whether you use the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage or by selling and downsizing to a less expensive home, it should be a crucial piece of your retirement planning.

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Zillow research reveals most homes can be rented out for a profit

couple in front of house for rent

The majority of U.S. homes could be purchased and rented out for a profit, according to the latest findings in a Zillow Research study.

According to a June 19 article on the Zillow Research site, small investors in 25 of the 35 biggest U.S. markets could most likely buy a home and rent it out for a profit, with the exception of a handful of high-priced metros along the West Coast and the Northeast.

Zillow did some number crunching to determine where rental revenue on investment property will exceed the monthly fixed costs of homeownership (mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance and HOA dues). According to their findings, the vast majority of homes in 25 of the 35 largest U.S. markets would be suitable for the math to work out in the investor’s favor.

“In each of these markets, at least 70 percent of homes can be purchased and rented out for more than their fixed monthly expenses, and in 17 of them, 9- percent of more of the homes meet that criteria,” writes Jamie Anderson, data scientist at Zillow Research. “But in nine particularly pricey markets (and almost in another), prices on the majority of properties are high enough that rental payments won’t cover the costs of ownership.”

Where Being a Landlord Doesn’t Pay

San Jose, California is the heart of Silicon Valley and one of the least affordable places to call home. Only five percent of homes here can be rented out for more than the monthly expenses involved in owning them, according to Anderson.

Moving a few miles north to San Francisco won’t help much. Here, only about 1 in 7 homes (14.3 percent) are likely to produce a positive net monthly cash flow.

Anderson goes on to point out that in another seven metro areas, between 23 and 49 percent of homes can be rented out for more than their mortgage. These areas include…

  • Los Angeles (26 percent)
  • San Diego (30 percent)
  • New York (40 percent)
  • Sacramento (40 percent)
  • Boston (45 percent)
  • Seattle (46 percent)
  • Portland (49 percent)

What may be somewhat surprising to many, more than half of homes in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. (54 percent) can be rented for more than the cost of ownership, but just barely.

So what makes these markets less profitable for investors? According to Anderson, these markets are within the top 10 most expensive major housing markets in the nation. Also, Anderson points out that while rents are high in these markets, home prices are also considerably higher.

“Nationwide, the full purchase price of the average home is equivalent to 11 years of the median U.S. rental payment,” writes Anderson. “In the most expensive markets, it would take almost double that length of time – more than 20 years of rental payments – to pay for the price of a home in full. If expected home and rent price appreciation were projected to be the same across all markets, we would expect all markets to have a similar price-to-rent ratio. But that’s not what happens: In more expensive markets, home values are a higher multiple of annual rental payments.”

Despite these markets being mostly unprofitable for small investors, the research did find that, within these markets are small, affordable “pockets where home prices are modest enough that rent payments should cover monthly ownership costs.”

In Seattle, for example, there are very few homes that can be rented for more than the costs of homeownership within the city proper or along the eastern shore of Lake Washington. However, travel north or south of Seattle’s city limits and you might find better deals in the middle-class suburbs of Lynnwood and Renton. Most homes in these areas can be rented out for a profit, according to the Zillow Research data.

Where Being a Landlord Does Pay

According to the data, Zillow Research found that 25 of the nation’s 35 biggest major metros were conducive to renting out for a profit. In 17 of the 25, more than 90 percent of homes were able to be rented out for a profit.

The five markets that have the highest share of homes that can be rented for a profit include…

  • Indianapolis (98.7 percent)
  • Kansas City (98.5 percent)
  • Cincinnati (98.4 percent)
  • Cleveland (98.2 percent)
  • San Antonio (97.9 percent)

Rounding out the top 10 are Atlanta (97.3%), Detroit (97.1%), Dallas (96.9%), Orlando (96.8%) and Houston (96.6%).

Thinking of Buying Rental Property?

Being a landlord is a big responsibility and it’s not for everyone. But for the right person, owning rental property can be a great way to diversify investments, supplement monthly cash flow and build overall wealth. If you’re considering being a landlord and purchasing an investment home, start by researching investment property financing and second home loans.

Investment Property Loan vs Second Home Loan

With an investment property loan, the borrower can use the anticipated rental income to qualify but the interest rate may be higher, along with the minimum down payment. This option is best suited for those interested in buying a home that will be rented out to long term tenants.

By contrast, a second home loan is essentially the same as a mortgage for a primary residence; however, the property must be occupied by the borrower a certain number of days out of each year. This option is better suited for those interested in buying a vacation rental or short term rental home.

Want to learn more about rental home financing? Let’s talk. Give us a call at 866-544-7013 or complete the form on this page and one of our mortgage professionals will contact you.

The post Zillow research reveals most homes can be rented out for a profit appeared first on Mid America Mortgage, Inc..

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Acquisition Of Zenly, Launch Of Snap Map Highlight Snapchat’s Real-World, Real-Time Influence

Snap, the parent company of social messaging app Snapchat, has been adding a variety of location tech tools at a rapid pace lately, and the debut of Snap Maps with the platform’s latest update is further demonstration of how its images and animations are intended to affect users’ activity in the physical world.

Launched the same week as its big appearance at Cannes Lions, where Snap’s branded yellow ferris wheel dominated the skyline in the seaside French town, Snap Map is being billed as a new map experience for its users.

In essence, Snap Map lets Snapchatters show and see what’s happening around their friends. As opposed to most social media uses of location, Snap Map is not about where you are and directions for how to get somewhere.

In addition, after suggesting certain similarities between Snap Map and French social location app, Zenly, Techcrunch broke the news that Snap acquired the company for between $250- and $350 million dollars in May, citing anonymous sources.

While Techcrunch contends that Snap Map is built directly on Zenly’s location sharing capabilities, the similarities actually appear to be merely skin deep.

Attribution is commonly required in map-based apps to indicate the technologies and geospatial data used in the application. The companies listed on the Snap Maps attribution page are all suppliers (directly or indirectly) to Snap Map. Typically a map platform puts together a number of different data sources, synthesizes them into the various map layers and then delivers them to the application. That indicates that Snap maps are built on Mapbox (as indicted in my previous article), not Zenly.

There is an obvious similarity between the two and Snap has acknowledged that they purchased Zenly several months ago. That similarity is may be due to Zenly having built on Mapbox as well…as are thousands of other customized map based applications.

Offline Activity Brought Selectively Online

The map itself is powered by a trio of location data visualization and geospatial tech providers: Mapbox, OpenStreetMaps, and satellite imagery vendor DigitalGlobe.

The activity on the map is seen through Snap “Actionmojis”– a new type of Bitmoji, which users can download separately to create a new avatar on Snapchat, the company said in its blog post announcement.

The idea essentially updates what other mobile apps from Swarm to France’s Zenly is to connect members of a social network together based on where they are and what they’re doing in the moment.

“In a lot of ways, we’re taking what a map is and turning it upside down,” Jack Brody, a product designer at Snap, told Refinery29’s Madeline Buxton. “This map isn’t about where am I, it’s about where are my friends and what are they up to? It’s not about figuring out how to get to your destination, but about discovering where you want to go.”

The nature of Snapchat, unlike say Facebook or Twitter, indicates a greater level of actual friendship in “real life” and its use of location reflects that level of intimacy: roughly 60 percent of the interactions on Snapchat are between close friends, according to a study called Circles of Influence from Sparkler, US data, commissioned by Snap.

To use and view Snap Map, app users simply pinch to zoom out from the Snapchat “camera.” The Snap Map is a new layer on top of the current Snapchat experience. The first time Snapchatters open Snapchat after updating their app, they’ll be taken through an explanation outlining how to find the Map and how it works.

Showing Snapchat’s Playful And Serious Sides

At the moment, there are no branded sponsorships available in Snap Map, the way they are through Snapchat’s Geofilters, which have been available to marketers for two years, starting with McDonald’s in Aug. 2015.

For Snap, The Map is another place for it showcase its users creativity in the app’s “Our Story” feature, which feature public posts. Users can also opt-out of wide sharing of their Map stories through the “Ghost Mode” privacy setting.

In general, Snaps are available to view on the Map for about 24 hours, though they may be found for a longer period through the app’s search.

A visual “Heat Map” within the feature can be used to point other users to a special event or breaking news at a particular place and are sorted through Snap’s algorithm.

Thumbnails will also help Snapchatters distinguish points of interest where a lot of Snaps are regularly being taken and submitted regularly, like Times Square or a major attraction, as well as those events that the Snap team has more of a hand in curating.

The addition of Snap Map comes a week after the company struck a partnership with geo-data specialist Factual’s Global Places data, which contains real-time info on more than 100 million places across 52 countries. Days before that deal, 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).

Last August, Snap acquired mobile search and local recommendation app Vurb for a reported $110+ million to help promote discovery of local places.

Snap Map Making — And Breaking — News

While Snap tends to take things a bit more cautiously when it comes to marketing, the company has been trying to demonstrate how it, like Facebook/Instagram and Twitter, can serve as an additional distribution channel for news sites and publications. Given the inherently local quality of news, the use of Snap Map could be used to enhance Snapchat’s appeal to publishers.

As Brody tells Refinery29, Snap wants to prove it has a serious side as well as a playful side.  For example, Brody points to the first test of its mapping capabilities during construction site’s crane accident in Feb. 2016. Snapchat users began sharing details of the incident through the Our Stories view.

Brody’s summary of Snapchat’s role in spreading information is particularly telling for traditional news organizations still trying to catch up to the speed f social media: “That was this moment of ‘we have something here,’” Brody says. “We had newsworthy content 10 minutes before the first news company actually arrived.”

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Pinterest Adds Measurement Partners To Promote Proof Of Brick-And-Mortar Sales Lift

As challenges mount against Pinterest’s dominance on image search for brands, the photo sharing platform has signed up six major measurement providers to help deliver a message to marketers: “Pinners” are heavy shoppers across retail, consumer packaged goods, and other categories typically associated with brick-and-mortar purchases.

Pinterest advertisers can now tap brand lift measurement and related insights from Acxiom, Analytic Partners, IRI, Neustar MarketShare, Nielsen Catalina Solutions, and Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings. These new partners join eight existing measurement partners in Pinterest’s Marketing Partners program.

“People associate Pinterest with taking action,” writes Gunnard Johnson, head of Measurement Science and Insights at Pinterest, in a blog post. “98 percent of Pinners report trying new things they find on Pinterest, compared to an average of only 71 percent across social media platforms. Before they even open the app, they intend to act—and then Pinterest guides them to a confident decision.”

Source: Pinterest

Among the kinds of information Pinterest will be promoting to show off its store traffic and sales lift prowess include this insight from Oracle Data Cloud, which found that people who use Pinterest shop and spend more than the general public.

Looking across a mix of categories, including retail, CPG and automotive, Oracle reported that Pinners are 39 percent more likely to be active retail shoppers—and when they shop, they spend 29 percent more than people who don’t use Pinterest.

“Overall, our average CPG sales lift increased 82 percent in 2016, over 2015 rates,” Johnson wrote. “The Oracle Data Cloud analysis showed that 92 percent of Pinterest CPG campaigns measured drove a positive lift in sales.”

Pinterest has been rolling out a number of features designed to keep pace the aggressive pace of social media marketing tools from Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. In February, it rolled out  a new search function that aims to match discovery to images, not words.

Dubbed Pinterest Lens, “it lets you use the camera in your Pinterest app to discover ideas inspired by objects you see out in the real world,” the company said at the time.

Part of Pinterest’s pitch is that brands “see more than sales lifts—they see strong campaign ROI, too,” Johnson says.

When Analytic Partners studied Pinterest campaigns in the context of total marketing spend, Pinterest delivered $2 in profit for every $1 the advertiser spent on Pinterest.

“That outperformed all other categories, including digital as a whole, TV, and channels like print or out of home,’ Johnson says.

Despite the wider measurement coverage, Pinterest still lacks a dedicated location-based attribution solution that directly links seeing a Pin to store traffic and sales. But as the attribution wars heat up, it’s likely that Pinterest will be adding one sooner than later.

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Over 50 Percent Of Millennials Are Using Voice Commands At Least Once A Month

Over 50 percent of Millennial (18-34) use voice commands once a month or more, according to research from Mindshare and J. Walter Thompson, and Google has stated that a full 20 percent of searches on Android in the United States are now conducted by voice — meaning that brands need to think about voice search and commerce not as a distant eventuality, but as tidal wave sweeping the industry today.

At this week’s Cannes Lions event, J. Walter Thompson’s Elizabeth Cherian,  UK director of The Innovation Group, talked to GeoMarketing about why voice is more intuitive than text or swipe — and how brands can stay discoverable in the world of intelligent assistants.

Voice has just recently reached to point of viability. Per the findings in JWT and Mindshare’s recent ‘Speak Easy’ voice report, what is the state of voice and AI today? What do brands need to know?

Ultimately, there have been so many changes in artificial intelligence, and voice technology essentially fits under artificial intelligence. In particular, there is voice recognition; that’s when the computer takes in what you’re saying and turns it into text to one degree or another of accuracy. Right? Then there is natural language processing. Which is much more complicated, because that’s understanding intent — and there is more work to be done there, [but] we’re getting there.

Nonetheless, what’s incredible about voice recognition it is currently on par with human voice recognition. So, if you were writing down what I’m saying, you, on average, should have about 95 percent accuracy. That is exactly where [voice] AI is today. We’ve gotten there, and we’re quickly going to surpass that, and we’re going to be looking at something like 99 percent accuracy – which is all the difference in the world; that’s the difference between hardly ever using it and using it all the time.

So, what’s [important to know] is that this is happening now — and it’s going to be picking up even more quickly. In our report, we are already seeing, amongst our global respondents, that 37 percent of smartphone users are using [voice search or voice commands] at least once a month.

That’s a really healthy number, especially considering that in the UK, Alexa didn’t even hit our shores until the fall — so as a category, it is brand spanking new, and yet already we’re seeing [more than a third using it]. And [intelligent] voice assistants in particular are coming fast and furiously: It’s projected that there are going to be more on the planet than humans by 2021.

In your keynote at Cannes, you identify three of the major trends in consumers’ desires related to voice-activated connected devices. What are they? What are people looking for?

In [the report] we identify nine, but there are three of the nine that we’re really focusing on [talking about] today. People want voice assistants to: ease their cognitive load, help them as a ‘digital butler,’ and to create intimacy.

For the ‘digital butler,’ that just means that they want a useful service. Not just voice for voice sake — they want it to solve problems and they want it to be proactive. The more that technology gets smarter and is more effective, the more that productivity is going to be an expectation.

With easing the cognitive load, what we found is that a major reason for taking on voice technologies is how efficient it makes [users] feel; they talk about how more efficiently they can manage their daily lives. And this makes sense: We’re humans; we’re built to exchange information orally.

Swipe and text, on the other hand, are not intuitive. Actually, we thought, wouldn’t it be cool to test what’s happening in the brain when we’re using voice as apposed to text or swipe. Is it indeed easier, and could we prove this from a physiological point of view? We teamed up a company called Neuro Insight to hook 100 people up to devices called SST — they’re very much like EEG but more accurate and better measure of brain activity.

To sum up, when our respondents took in information by text [their brains] worked far harder than when they took information in by a voice. What the implications of that are is that humans follow the path of least resistance — it’s just in your nature. If you’re sitting there as a consumer and you have two ways of accessing information, ultimately, once you get used to it… you’re going to opt for voice over text because it’s easier.

So, are people actually transacting over their voice-activated devices? E.g. saying ‘Alexa, find me a sun dress’ and then purchasing it that way? Will we start to see more of that?

It’s slower, certainly. Especially through a device like Echo, right now, users are primarily listening to music, they’re asking questions. They might say, ‘send me an Uber to pick me up.’ Set an alarm.

But [the commerce element] is surely coming in terms of trying to get at what brands need to think about for the future. Really, right now, they need to think in terms of being discoverable.

53 percent of global smart phone users are excited by the prospect by their voice assistance anticipating their needs — making suggestions and even going so far as to take action, even buying something on their behalf. Like, if my [digital assistant] knows that Charmin is my favorite toilet paper brand and just orders it for me.

What works really well over voice is just one good answer. That’s scary for brands for the reason I just said: If someone loves Charmin, and the assistant knows that, how, as another brand do you get into that very loyal relationship just that keeps repeat purchasing your favorite toilet paper?

Right. How can brands approach this challenge?

What we are seeing is that there is a couple of options there. Firstly, could there be paid recommendation? Could you, as a brand, pay to have the voice assistant recommend your brand? Especially when there isn’t that bond already formed. It;s not the best option, it’s not maybe the cheapest option, but it is an option that theoretically a brand could pay to get to the top of the list.

But here’s what’s happening right now: Look at this idea of algorithm optimization. It’s like the new SEO; brands [need to get their] underlying data layer ready for consumption by these devices. The question is, how do you build into your product and services such as the voice assistance sees you as the best option? That’s something we think brands should be thinking about right now.

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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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