Think Tank Dallas: Marketing Leaders Explore the State of Local

Last night Advice Local hosted LSA’s Think Tank event in Dallas. We had over 20 high-ranking industry experts in attendance discussing the state of the industry over dinner. The event included a panel to kick-off the discussion and was led by Bernadette Coleman of Advice Local, Lex ten Veen of Navads, Hillit Meidar-Alfi of Spatially and Lance Bachmann of 1SEO.

While the discussion ended up in a heated debate, it started with a simple enough question: “What is the one thing that has changed most in the industry whether it be a trend, product, data point or strategy?”

The panelists discussed several changes:

  • Google’s algorithm change and trying to stay ahead of the game.
  • The improvements of attribution and being able to track ROI of the work, service or product purchased.
  • The decline in trust by local advertisers in digital marketing providers as they churn through agencies and providers.
  • The improvements in audience targeting and personalization.
  • The explosion in choices and channels for reaching audiences that create problems for both local advertisers and marketers in knowing what options best meet the marketing need.

This last discussion point morphed into an argument about whether websites were necessary anymore given the proliferation of online profiles such as Google’s knowledge panel and social media pages that many businesses are using as proxies for a homepage. Many from the audience joined the vigorous discussion over what information and what depth of research consumers use.

There were arguments over what information most influences consumers such as location, reviews, or organic search results. In the end, the discussion did not result in a consensus position, but everyone agreed the passionate debate was enjoyable and a refreshing departure from the normally subdued panel discussions usually seen on stages at conferences across the country.

The disagreement also highlighted the complexity of local search marketing with prominent experts in the field unable to pinpoint what strategy works best. If even experts can’t agree, how much more difficult is it for the local business owner? Nevertheless, the debate emphasizes how our industry remains a fascinating and ever evolving space that requires close and continual learning.

Think Tank is an invite-only thought-leadership program designed to generate new ideas and identify opportunities in the local and location-based marketing space. If you’re interested in participating in or hosting future Think Tank events, click here to learn more.

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