Friday, May 14, 2010

Is Your Marketing Strategy Location-Aware?

Is Your Marketing Strategy Location-Aware?
Part I: Why Hyper-local is the Next Big Wave You Can't Afford to Miss

by Tracy Manning
Vice President of Client Services, Berry Network
(14. May 2010 01:45)

If there’s one thing that’s certain about marketing these days, it’s that if you think you finally have it all figured out, just wait about five minutes and you’ll have a new challenge to solve. Marketers have been scrambling over the past few years to grab the reins on interactive, fragmentation, media mix and social influence, but many may have missed a key trend that will be vitally important moving forward on just about every major advertising platform: Hyper-localization.

In a time-starved, increasingly mobile-social, GPS-wired environment, ensuring your marketing campaign is hyper-local may mean the difference between winning and losing big in the marketplace. Smart phone adoption is at an all-time high, and research shows that consumers’ habits change drastically: once they get the smart phone needle in the proverbial vein, there’s no turning back. This is particularly true for iPhone users, whose massive consumption of wireless data has been well documented in the media.

For these users, the mobile phone becomes their primary screen. They begin to turn to it versus old standards for their media and information. TV viewing takes a downturn as they realize they can tap into most of what they want to see via services like iTunes or by streaming it from the mobile web. Radio listenership plummets because they have an on-board MP3 collection in their pocket and can stream it through Bluetooth to a number of devices in their homes and cars. Home PC usage declines as they realize they can not only search for anything they want on the go, but actually get more relevant results for businesses near them using the GPS functionality of the phone.

But this trend isn’t limited to mobile. By way of technology, it’s also taking over in traditional online search and will likely also make its way to TV via location-aware set-top boxes. It’s this marketer’s opinion, that before it’s over, the hyper-local trend will prove so efficient and effective, that every media platform will be forced to acknowledge it and adapt to it in order to survive. Marketers who wise up early to this trend and jump in on the front edge of the wave will win big with early adopter consumers, achieve incredibly efficient ROI and reap long-term benefits for years to come.

So what will it take to succeed in a hyper-local environment?

• Strong understanding of technology trends and the opportunity they represent

• A pioneering spirit that lends itself to early experimentation, learning and optimization

• A direct marketing/direct response mindset in terms of targeting, messaging & measurement

• Partners like Berry Network (, who are experts at understanding how consumers shop locally and managing the detail that will be necessary to keep you on the leading edge of this trend

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for the remaining installments in my series: “Is Your Marketing Strategy Location-Aware?”, beginning with “Part II: Grabbing Your Share of The Hyper-Local Mobile Opportunity.”

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Googles' SuperBowl ad takes aim at Yellow Pages' heart

By Tracy Manning
Vice President of Client Services, Berry Network

If anyone was questioning whether Google still sees the Yellow Pages industry as both a threat and an opportunity, Google's 3rd quarter SuperBowl ad Parisian Love should end all speculation.  As hell froze over, Google pulled back its bow and aimed straight for the Yellow Pages industry's heart:  life change events. 

Sunday-night Twitter and Facebook posts were aflutter about the ad, which, through a young man's Google searches, traces his steps as he falls in love while studying abroad and eventually makes a number of large life changes to marry her and start a family.  

To those in the Yellow Pages industry, the Google ad must feel very "back to the future".  After all, that industry has always known that life change events like these are their bread and butter and has been highlighting them in its own advertising efforts for decades.  

Major life changes create the need for investments of the calibre and type that really must be thoroughly researched prior to the buy - not only because of the cost of the item or service, but also because it tends to fall into a realm in which they haven't had prior experience or exposure.  When these situations occur, shoppers find themselves with a pressing need for the most complete and accurate information possible to help them make decisions.

In fact, in the face of the search frenzy and negative media hype surrounding the legacy print Yellow Pages product, recent surveys show that even America's youngest adults still turn to the Yellow Pages more often that you might think when faced with life-changing events such as graduation, renting or buying a first home, getting married, moving, accepting a new job or having a child.  It seems that even with the plethora of search engine options available to them, they are still, at times, finding Yellow Pages the fastest, most accurate road to a savvy purchase.

No question, Google has its gun loaded and has been making its moves towards owning this "life change" local search space for several years - with everything from Google Maps to local video content to the way geo-modifiers are playing heavily in its algorithms.  But Parisian Love is a bold, public statement  - a promise to consumers, even - in the vein of "Dear Yellow Pages:  We are coming to eat your lunch".

The real question is how well Google can truly live up to that promise.  Really, who hasn't at one time conducted a Google search for something you were seeking and come away with inaccurate or incomplete information that did nothing for you but create a feeling incredible frustration?  (And all those who have driven to a business address provided by Google Maps only to find the location closed, say "Aye".)

The Yellow Pages industry and its partners have spent nearly 100 years gathering, databasing and publishing the local business and shopping decision information that consumers most seek when they are ready to make critical life change purchases locally.  Google has shown it understands the importance of building this same repository online, but without feet on the street and face-to-face relationships with the local advertiser, it may take it just a few more years to get there. 
Sure, there's little doubt Google's ad will further ramp up negative media hype for traditional print Yellow Pages industry ... but the industry would do well to also remember that imitation is surely the sincerest form of flattery.