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Next week in NYC is the Search Engine Strategies conference. One of the sessions will discuss local marketing and geotargeting campaigns. I had a chance to speak with moderator Ian White and the transcript of our discussion is below.
Allen: Can you begin with a brief bio about yourself and your company Urban Mapping?
Ian White: I’m CEO of Urban Mapping, a company I started in 2003. At that time I had developed a printed map based on a unique printing technique that allows users to see multiple layers of imagery on a static polymer substrate. The NYC map gained tremendous notoriety for its design and function (http://urbanmapping.com/panamap/index.html for more info). At the time I called it a "poor man’s GIS" as it allowed users to see subways, streets and neighborhoods. The technology is patented and it should be returning to a store near you soon…
Over the past two years I’ve been more focused on digital media–UMI offers a series of data products designed to be used by interactive publishers and application providers. Our database of informal space, or neighborhoods, is most widely known and used. All major portals and IYPs are customers. In the context of local search, knowing your location is invaluable, and often times a postal code is woefully inadequate, but it’s the most granular one can get. Enter our neighborhood database product. Over 30,000 neighborhoods across the US, Canada and Europe (and growing).
We also offer a database of normalized mass transit systems. This is unique in that the product caters to the needs of end-users, ie, riders. We know locations of actual station exits and if they are handicap accessible, hours of operation, amenities, etc…Station, line, schedule and routing data are also part of this. More info on this coming very soon.
My background in brief: I have 15 years experience in marketing strategy and product development. I have been published in academic journals and the business press and is a frequent speaker on local search and ‘context-dependent media.’
Prior to founding Urban Mapping in 2003, I worked as a business consultant at and held various roles in business development and marketing. I also served as Adjunct Professor of Design and Management at Parsons School of Design in New York.
Allen: What will you be speaking about at SES and why is SES an exciting conference to you?
Ian: I’m moderating panel on local this time. Pleased to say SES ripped off my proposed abstract word for word ;)
Glad to be moderating this time around as I can shape the discussion, not just participate. My vantage point affords a unique perspective to how engines, publishers and others conceive of and use local data. SES attracts a huge number of SEM pros, many of whom are first timers. It’s nice to be able to share learnings with them so they don’t hit the same pitfalls many of us have already experienced.
Allen: What’s a geotargeted campaign?
Ian: At the risk of being tautological, a geotargeted campaign means targeting a campaign to a specific territory. For interactive marketing, this has become synonomous with IP-based geotargeting. In the SEM world, geotargeting is relevant as it provides a menas of serving something (advertising/content) to a geographically-focused area. Problem is, there’s a lot of fiction built around what geotargeting does. It’s not a panacea and doesn’t provide the granularity anywhere near what people think. Load balancers, proxy servers and dynamic IPs all serve to obsfucate a user’s true location. Remember all AOL dial-up subscribers having their address appear as somewhere in Northern Virginia? This is still very common.
There are other ways to geotarget using different location-aware techniques. Urban Mapping offers its GeoMods solution (http://urbanmapping.com/geomods/index.html) which is predicated on the intent of the user. Other techniques include GPS, cellID and wifi triangulation.
Allen: Why is geotargeting important for marketers?
Ian: Local represents about 40% of all searches–even if you don’t type ‘plumber,’ it’s inherently local. Much of the economy is driven by ‘research online, buy offline,’ so this is a critical piece of a campaign. Many large advertisers haven’t gotten to anything more granular than country or region, so this leaves a lot of room for smaller (non brand) advertisers to run campaigns that tap into the intent of a user’s query.
Allen: What resources do you suggest that a marketer check out with regards to local and geotargeting?
Ian: In the humblest of ways, I suggest a few postings I’ve written (with links to good resources):
Over the last year I have attended many conferences across the country. Some have been good, some have been bad, some have been pricey. You can read all of my conference coverage and decide which you agree/disagree with. I am a tough grader of conferences because most cost money to attend.
I would say that my favorite conference from the past year is Future of Web Apps. Streaming Media East was probably my least favorite, not because of the conference, but due to Jeff Jarvis and his continued self-promotion through one of the sessions. After Jeff and the conference organizers went at it publicly, I doubt Jeff will be back next year.
What makes a great conference great and a bad one bad? Simple. It's a recipe. You need to have the right ingredients, all combined correctly. For example, ever eat a cookie right out of the oven? Tastes like crap unless you let it cool for a few minutes. Same thing here. Making sure everything works for a conference is the same. The venue, the price, the attendees, etc., all play into the recipe.
Alex has a good overview from the startup standpoint for which conferences make the most sense to attend and those you should throw money at. He says that DEMO is the best place to show off your startup but that the fee is high (I believe $20k for 5 minutes?). If you are a startup looking to launch/build buzz at an event, Alex's post is a must read. It will save you the time of wasting your money on a bad event.
Alex fails to mention that you need MONEY to attend/present at these events. For every startup that has funding and can afford a DEMO presentation, there are 500 more that can't. Alex includes some info on PR generation while at the event. I would take it a step further and suggest that you stay in town for 1-2 days where it makes sense to meet new connections. You traveled all this way for the conference, why not maximize your buzz generation and friend potential. I use this tactic to complete interviews over the extra days.
Jeremiah touches on this with his follow-up post where he discusses that not every startup has the funds to attend the expensive events and should look local as well. Of course Jeremiah is in Silicon Valley where it seems many of the events are.
Scoble joins in the conversation by suggesting that you should use Upcoming to track conferences. "Thanks to Upcoming.org they (his friends) bring me the best events and I can look and see which ones of them are going," he notes. For local conferences and meetings, Meetup is another good source. In NYC, I haven't heard anyone mention Upcoming but Meetup is mentioned almost daily.
I have ultra-limited funds which makes it difficult to attend most conferences. Even though I receive press passes, attendance is still expensive. In most cities a decent hotel is $100/nte, airfare can run $1000+ so even without the cost of attending the conference, the costs can still go over $2k for a 5-day conference.
Here are some tips I use for reducing the costs of attendance:
- Travelzoo – this is my favorite site for travel-related info. They have awesome deals almost anywhere (at least the big cities) and can save you mega bucks. And most of the deals let you keep the points/miles you earn.
- Credit Card points/miles – this is one that most people don't take advantage of. Make sure the cards you use for these trips and expenses give you something in return. I have stayed many a free night because of these cards, and spend 21 days in Europe without paying for one night in a hotel with points.
- Flyertalk Forums – an awesome discussion board for help with travel and for maximizing your ability to earn/use points. If you are a regular traveler, this is an absolute must read.
- Cheap Airfare Guide – Markus has launched a guide to help you find the best airfare.
The truth is that it will take a bit of time to work the deals. But if you can save $1k or more, isn't it worth it? Even if you or your startup have cash, why waste it where it's not needed!
I would love to get out to Gnomedex but doubt it will happen this year. At this point I have TechCrunch20 on the calendar as the big conference for this fall. I am on the roster for Future of Web Apps but doubt that I will be able to afford the travel costs.
Finally, I reviewed Confabb last week. Confabb is looking to become the destination for conferences worldwide.
Editor's note: Alex's company, AdaptiveBlue is a sponsor of CenterNetworks.
This afternoon I attended the Social Bookmarking Strategies session within the Search Engine Strategies 2007 NY conference which was moderated by Alex Bennert and the speakers included: Todd Malicoat, Lee Odden, Neil Patel, and Michael Gray. I was looking forward to hearing Neil speak but for some reason he was only part of the q&a portion. Below are my notes. Honestly, for most of the CN audience, nothing will appear new.
- Lee discusses why web based bookmarks are better than local bookmarks. Goal is to get people to share your content with others via these sites.
- Difference between social news (digg, reddit) and social bookmarks (delicious and furl). News is hot now, Bookmarks are for the future.
- Shows Delicious as the most popular social bookmarking site. Then shows how to actually bookmark a link with Delicious! WOO!
- Shows Furl and explains that they cache content.
- Shows Blinklist and their excellent widget for syndication.
- Shows Magnolia and says they are basically low to medium for marketing. Notes that you can group things together.
- Shows Google Bookmarks and explains that personalized results will be affected. Also offers an IE toolbar for the bookmarks.
- Use this 301url.com/social-bookmarks to find hundreds of social bookmarks.
- Tips: become a user, pick a tool, place buttons prominently, don't overkill, match bookmark service to audience, track referrals.
Todd Malicoat aka StuntDubl
- His presentation is dated 2006 – I sure hope this is not a rehash of a year ago!
- Why use Del.icio.us? Bookmark aggregation, Repeat traffic and loyal visitors, Real traffic and Great users
- He explains how you should spam your friends and buddy lists to help you hit the home page of delicious.
- Why do research for social media?
– find out whats working and not working
– discover trends
– discover key players
– watch the competition
– find out what people are saying about you
- He loves RSS
- Explains how to use the Digg feature for research – I disagree with him completely
- Shows Netscape and how it has no search feature
- Shows StumbleUpon and its research capability with its stars function
- Shows Delicious and the history feature for a post
- Discusses how to track your company and the competition using the news services and social media sites
Just some quick updates here on a Saturday night…
We have conference coverage over the next couple of weeks.
- Search Engine Strategies NYC – I will be covering the conference.
- Web 2.0 Expo – Stephanie from CravingIdeas is covering the expo for CenterNetworks
Trackbacks – I have received a few emails and notes about trackback issues. I have attempted to filter some of the spam and should be able to approve trackbacks from now on. We are currently receiving between 5-10,000 spams a day. And now 10% of it is Italian spam. If your trackback does not appear, let me know.
Startup Video opportunity – We have 3 submissions so far. If you have any ideas on promoting this unique idea, I would greatly appreciate the ideas.
CenterNetworks will be covering the Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago from December 3-9. If you will be attending, drop us a line and perhaps we can get a meetup going. Bookmark this page or grab the rss feed to be notified as we post coverage.
- SES Wrap-Up
- Photos from Search Engine Strategies – Chicago
- Optimizing your blog and feed for search (with audio)
- Keynote presentation with audio – Danny Sullivan
- 2006 Conference Showdown: ad:tech NY vs. Search Engine Strategies Chicago
- Jason Calacanis Keynote review including full audiocast
- Jason Calacanis Word Association
- Jason Calacanis to join Sequoia Capital
- Google Traffic Building Session
Some links to learn more about the conference:
- Jason Calacanis to Keynote Search Engine Strategies (added November 21)
- Conference Overview
- Extra Training Day Agenda
I will ask for some snow on the weather forecast and I am looking forward to meeting the team at Feedburner. If you are interested in an interview with your web app in Chicago, I would be happy to meet with you.