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What’s Hot & What’s Not in Hyperlocal

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Cracking the online to offline attribution code remains a primary focus for local marketers in 2018, while booking platforms, loyalty programs, chatbots and beacons will be at the back of the line for investment this year, according to a survey of local marketers conducted by StreetFight.

These findings were presented in a “State of Hyperlocal” talk by StreetFight research director David Card at last week’s Street Fight Summit West in Los Angeles.

Card presented the results of an executive survey of about 75 local search leaders, with questions addressing R&D priorities, what they perceive as their customers’ needs, key challenges and outlook for the future.

Card’s talk covered a range of issues in local media and cited different surveys conducted over the past year, involving both SMBs and local media sellers. This post will focus on the results of the most recent survey of local online marketing execs from local tech companies, publishers, agencies and data/analytics firms. Card said most respondents were either VPs or C-level execs at their companies.

The survey asked where the respondents’ customers are increasing their local spend, with up to three choices allowed. Social media marketing topped this list at 55%, with local websites, SEO and listings management ranking at 43%. Traditional media and in-store infrastructure lagged at 5% and 3% respectively.

When asked where they are investing (respondents were allowed up to three selections), local execs are clearly focused on attribution and data. The top three selections were “online to offline attribution”, “local presence and listings management” and “location data and analytics.”

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Several areas that get a lot of attention on tech blogs and at industry events don’t seem to be getting much traction with local execs. Or in some cases, once hot areas are losing steam. An example of the latter is beacons, which lagged at 8%, perhaps an indication that beacons may be a technology that moved to ball down the field on attribution but fell short of solving the problem. On demand services and loyalty programs also ranked low among investment priorities, suggesting that interest is waning in these areas, at least in terms of their application to local.

Other areas ranking low on the list of investment priorities may just be bit ahead of their time. These include mobile wallets and payments, augmented reality and face-recognition technology, the latter producing a 0% score.

“Integrating or offering back-office functions” came in at 9%. During his talk, Card flagged this area, which the LSA is focused on with with its Tech Adoption Index business intelligence program, as one “that is perhaps being under-invested in.” When asked where they are investing for “longer-term payoff”, the “SMB OS” ranked in the middle of the pack at 12%, trailing location data, geo-targeting, AI for analytics, voice, IoT and mobile payments.

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When asked what their biggest long-term challenges are, “online to offline attribution” and “complex and fragmented ecosystem” ranked at the top. Interestingly, “customer churn” was dead last at 4%. Apparently local execs are confident that churn is a problem that is actually being solved.

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