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eBay has announced the launch of eBay Motors Local Classifieds for individual sellers today. The idea of this program is to bring together local buyers and sellers within a 100 mile zone of their local market.
Sellers can list up to six vehicles for a seven day period with no insertion or successful listing fees through July 15.
Considering the launch is for individual sellers, wouldn’t most transactions be local anyway? eBay is pushing the idea that you can go kick the tires and really investigate the car in-person via only online.
Yesterday Brooklyn-based Outside.in announced that they have partnered with NBC to power the neighborhood pages for nine local city sites. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed and NYConvergence has more info on the deal.
Mark from Outside.in noted regarding the deal, "In order to deliver the “most local” site they could, NBC turned to Outside.in and our Neighborhood News Pages. Outside.in’s Neighborhood News Pages leverage our automated platform to aggregate tens of thousands of sources (blogs, news, traditional press, twitter tweets, etc…) and organize them by discrete geographic neighborhoods."
It’s a smart move for Outside.in as it brings them both revenue and visibility via the large NBC network.
Here’s a video I captured last year where Outside.in CEO Mark Josephson explained how Outside.in works and why "place matters" and why things near you matter.
This following column was provided by Matt Ackerson. Matt is the author of Venture Kid, a blog about entrepreneurs and start-up advice. He currently works at Scrimple, Inc, a firm that creates products and services for the benefit of the local economy.
The future of the internet will become more locally focused. There are four major reasons why this will is the case.
- Everyone in the U.S. is aware of the internet and computers are becoming ubiquitous. Local business owners, even those who are older, are becoming more familiar and sophisticated in terms of internet technology and how to employ it to their advantage. According to Opus research, over 40% of small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) are advertising online. In the same survey, taken in October, 2008, slightly over 30% said they would be shifting more of their marketing budget online.
- Companies have gradually adapted to the market and are successfully producing web-based services molded to the needs and desires of local businesses. Reach Local is an example of this.
- The volume of users performing local searches on the web is growing significantly. While search query volume grew 20% between February 2007 and February 2008, search queries with local intent grew 76% in the same period of time. Overall, Kelsey Group estimates that 20% of all searches performed online have local intent. These are important numbers for the local economy because it shows that more consumers are shopping or pre-shopping online while usage of traditional media is declining.
- The proliferation of smart phones with embedded GPS technology.
Two subtle factors worth mentioning that are likely to contribute to the growth of this trend are the recession and a growing movement for a sustainable economy (e.g. living and relying on resources closer to home).
These facts demonstrate great opportunity for start-ups and established players to profit, as well as innovate. Plenty are already profiting, fewer are doing much that is truly innovative.
Internet Yellow Pages (IYP’s) are a perfect example of this. Take a large database of contact information, skin it with a slick design, do a bit of SEO and online marketing, and then, presto. It is a common play nowadays, common because it can work reasonably well.
Reach Local (mentioned above), Web Visible, and Yodle take the middle ground on this issue by bringing to market products that show incremental innovation: take the search marketing API’s that are out there, plug them into your site, build some landing page templates, use Adwords and lots of phone calls to get distribution, and presto (Clearly I am over-simplifying).
The same goes for online delivery websites: take orders from customers online and send them through to the business via a fax line. Both online ordering and search engine marketing resale programs are already crowded with competition, but the leaders of the pack are making some nice bank (supposedly Yodle pulled in $30 million in revenue for 2008).
The question remains whether there is the possibility for disruptive innovation in this space. Is a company like Reach Local or Delivery.com the epitome of profitable innovation on a large scale? Are they the "Google" of the local markets? Is it possible to create more innovative, valuable products and services for a market that has been quite slow to adopt internet technology in the first place?
The answer is a yes–we will see more innovation in this space in the future. Why? It is only a guess, but it a guess based on research, personal interactions, and time spent talking with numerous local business owners. In addition, recall the four points above: the progressive and continued blend of the internet and offline commerce is a logical prediction.
Gazing into the future we should remember that web technology’s major benefits will be is the automation or assistance of lab and the potential for cheap and wide distribution (the long tail).
New solutions may disrupt the market by turning online ordering sites or local SEM brands into commodities or make them irrelevant all together. How? Pricing models may be changed (perhaps making such services free somehow), operating costs may drop yielding cheaper and easier integration of SEM / Fax technologies. New competition to the space may address other problems that affect local brick-and-mortar businesses such as weather or seasonal changes. Others may change jobs that humans once had to do in person, such as answering the phone to take orders, and distributing them via a virtual call center.
The possibilities are nearly limitless for the local internet and we have only scratched the surface thus far. The hope is that whatever new web technologies come about in the next few decades, those that target the local economy should do so with more than profit in mind. They should consider the impact their products / services will have on jobs and on the overall quality of life in the local economy.
NY-based private file sharing service Drop.io has announced the launch of geo-location based drops. The concept works like this — you upload files into your drop. Once uploaded you can tag the drop with a location. Users can search on locations and drops that are set as public will be returned. Some examples would include: "Grand Central", "London’s Speaker’s Corner" or "Berlin Ubahn". For this new location service to be effective, they will need a large number of drops to identify their location so searches return actual results.
This new location service is an interesting change for Drop.io. When the service launched, everything was about privacy and the private nature of drops. The idea was that the only way to find a drop was to know the specific URL. Today’s location announcement changes that – drops can now be indexed…will they be indexed in Google next?
Update: Drop.io CEO Sam Lessin left a comment which I thought those of you on the feed might be interested in. "just to clarify, drops cannot be indexed by search or otherwise… we have measures in place to block that from http://location.drop.io just as we do on the core site. Users don’t need to set a location, so the total privacy/publicity of dropped content remains 100% at the users control across the full spectrum.
the feature will be live momentarily and a full explanation is at http://drop.io/dropiolocation/
we are very very excited about this new feature and it will become an interesting new flexible way to use drop.io simple private sharing platform"
What I wanted to discuss here is whether a user say in Italy would rather have a localized version of YouTube or an Italian company providing video sharing? Would a user in Germany prefer to have German flickr which is really just a translation of the American version or a German company providing similar features?
Flickr/YouTube have basically translated the site using a technique called "Internationalization and Localization" also called "i18n and L10n". Simplified, they take the bits of text across the site, translate them and can now offer a new version of the site in x language.
Franz Patzig posted (in German) some examples of the poor translations that Flickr is currently using. How many people will leave the service for this reason? I know that for me, when I use services that are clearly non-english oriented but where they attempted to make an English version, it doesn't sit well with me.
Here is a screenshot of the "new" Italian YouTube. You can see that the images have not translated. Does this piss you off as an Italian user? Does it seem like a "half-assed" job?
I don't have all of the answers but thought this might be a good bit for discussion. Till has posted a list of Flickr alternatives. Till is a German and his list is a combo of both German and not companies.
Which do you prefer, if any? A localized version of a service, a local company offering similar service, or neither, the original language version? For example, if you are a native Italian, will you continue to use YouTube in the "native" English? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.