LSA|14: Back to the Future: Discussion of Past & Current Predictions in Local

In our final session at the 2014 LSA annual conference, three of our industry’s preeminent analysts – Matt Booth, CEO of Connectivity, Neal Polachek, independent digital media analyst and board advisor, Buzzboard, Inc., and Greg Sterling, senior analyst, Opus Research – engaged the audience in an open session about past and current predictions in local.

As Greg noted, “predictions have logic” at the time they are made, even if they don’t pan out in the long-term.

The panel overviewed questionable past predictions, including:

  • “Google will buy Yellowbook”
  • “Google with be successful in the radio space”
  • “TellMe will push Microsoft into the forefront of mobile services – voice search would be important in mobile services”
  • “Pay per Call will be big… really big ($4B by 2009)”
  • “Video will become a major form of SMB advertising”
  • “The print Yellow Pages will be gone by 2015”

The group then shared mostly accurate past predictions:

  • “Print usage decline will accelerate in 2010”
  • “Mobile will overtake desktop search”
  • “The ‘presence, performance, permanence’ construct will endure”
  • “Verticals will begin to gain significant market share”

New predictions made by the group included:

  • “Google will build and push new SMB products to augment SEM”
  • “Focus will shift from consumer acquisition to customer retention”
  • “Amazon will score big with SMBs beyond Amazon Web Services”
  • “Legacy vertical sales organizations will offer digital solutions (e.g., American Tire Distributors)”
  • “Facebook will field a local SMB sales channel”

In closing, the audience shared some of their own new predictions:

  • “Real-time integration with local inventory by 2016”
  • “Delivery timing will continue to be pushed up more and more – with same-day delivery becoming more mainstream in the next few years”
  • “Admission of traditional SMBs fully integrated into local search”
  • “Digital advertising companies will fail. Those focused on transactions will succeed” (Yelp vs. OpenTable)
  • “Distinctive branding is going to become a lot more important – especially in the local sector – within the next 3-4 years”

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