LSA17: Who Owns the Last Mile?
March 1, 2017 | Contributed by: Charles Laughlin
A small number of large platforms have come to dominate the mobile Internet: Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. How can publishers utilize these platforms but still advance their brands and have direct relationships with consumers?
Four panelists debated this vexing issue this morning at LSA 17 in San Diego: Perry Evans, Founder & CEO, Closely; John Koetsier, Mobile Economist, Tune; Stu MacFarlane, Executive Vice President of Consumer Platforms, YP; Chad Richard, SVP, Business & Corporate Development, Yelp.
Below are some of the most compelling comments to emerge from the session.
John Koetsier: About 70 percent of the companies here were not here three years ago. Three years from now, will I be here? There have been tectonic shifts in the primary ways we interact with digital world, and the digital world is “the” world for many people, increasingly.
Richard: We have a strong consumer base that looks for us (directly). But there are major platforms bigger than Yelp where we also want to be a presence. Strategically decided to make bridge back to Yelp. Content on other platforms equals brand awareness for Yelp.
Stu MacFarlane: My 8th grade daughter talks about frenemies. Platforms fall into that category. Important to figure out how we cut out a spot for ourselves. We go deep. We offer detail. Verticals where we can win, we will make sure we have the data, the content. We use a combination of partner and self-generated content.
Evans (responding to a questions about local brands ability to generate audience): I have looked at the directory businesses. They have never really been publishers. They were distribution channels. Most of the evolution of YP has proven that. There are better ways for them to get more leads.
There is a shift away from ad spend and into marketing services. Building a layer of return behavior, campaigns against customer lists. A marketing services stack that helps the business build customer lists, market smartly to them.
MacFarlane: The value of a consumer is high, it is a vital source of leads. We are not paying for the traffic. If we didn’t have it, we would be selling marketing services. Benefit for us is about delivering value.
Evans: Conversational technology is a breakthrough. At end of day, publishers have been trying to get SMBs to do things that are unnatural. Naturally, they love to talk to customers. Brands will suck at this. Small businesses will be great at adapting to conversational technology.
Richard: Making Yelp into transactional platform — deeper consumer experience, better attribution.
Evans: It is less about brands about experiences. YP should have owned space that Angie’s list and home adviser own. Winners are innovators that start from scratch and think about the experience.
Koetsier: (Asked for advice to give to publishers) Do the things that don’t scale. The things that the big platforms wont do.