While not the key theme of this week’s Street Fight Summit, held in New York City, the subject of connections emerged again and again. Whether it was finding ways to profitably connect and engage local merchants, connecting consumer data from multiple sources to better understand attribution, to connecting the entire path to purchase using mobile, beacons and consumer profile data.
In a lively discussion featuring Sharon Rowlands, CEO ReachLocal, Jason Richelson, CSO ShopKeep, and Angus Davis, CEO of Swipely understanding how to effectively and profitable connect and continue to engage local merchants was the main topic. ReachLocal’s Sharon Rowland identified a key challenge shared by any company selling into the local market, “how do you identify what level of investment to start local merchants with to ensure they are profitable to work with and have the potential to produce significant lifetime value.” Jason Richelson supported the idea that, “Identifying profitable verticals and educating sales teams on the key needs and solutions working within chosen verticals allows sales people to become more expert, sell more effectively and provide a higher level of confidence to the local merchant.”
In a later session, the next generation of mobile marketing was discussed, focusing on the need to connect desktop and offline activity with mobile experiences to help marketers get closer to the sale. One way to accomplish this was utilizing the data and information from app usage and information shared by consumers via their mobile phones. Chris Cunningham, Director of Mobile for IronSource, felt, “that apps provide consumers with a higher level of confidence to share personal information if it means they get better results from their searches or the ads they see are more relevant to their needs.” According to Google’s Naomi Makofsky, “Connecting the information within apps and mobile websites offer the best insights on streamlining search and personalizing the discovery experience.” Discussing the added layer of beacons, Yelp’s Peter Curzon said, “beacons, and the location data they can collect and coordinate with mobile, will be valuable in enriching the local discovery process.”
In another session, Donnie Yancey, CDO of Mapquest, spoke about the need to define how mobile is changing search and how to better define how and where search is occurring beyond simple location data. In the latest version of Mapquest, “the platform identifies more precisely where in a building the user is located using altitude sensors, how fast people are moving to know when they are walking or driving, where they started from and if they arrived at the intended location or chose another competing location that was closer.” Being able to connect what people are doing on their mobile phones with where they are with more accuracy may change the way in which search information and advertising are delivered.
The clearest example of making connections are the marketplace companies such as Uber for transportation, Urgently for towing, and Pager for coordinating medical care. These platforms, connect available inventory with a user friendly app that offers quick access or quick response all wrapped up in a great customer experience. Mike Jaconi, CEO of Button pointed out that, “by connecting mobile with location specific data and inventory serving, makes the on-demand economy possible.”
The era of big data, multiple digital platforms, mobile “on-the-go” consumers, and the desire to clearly understand the path to purchase, are driving this industry to find ways to connect data, online and offline experiences and provide ways to deliver relevant discoverable information wherever and whenever consumers are looking or buying. The desire is to connect, but the fight continues.