I had a great time at the Signal Austin event today put on by Federated Media. I loved the format which focuses on one theme (in this case, mobile apps focused on local). Some of the biggest names in the tech industry and hottest startups in the space attended and only got 10-20 minutes to present. The short time frame forced people to get to the essence of their presentations. The conference was also relatively small (~200 attendees) giving it a nice, intimate feel. Presenters today included the founder of WordPress and Gowalla, the famous VP of Products at Google, Marissa Mayer, and Dell’s CMO of Enteprise and Public, Andy Lark. Overall, most companies are using the same concepts applied in different ways — badges, points, check-ins, deals, games. The big tech companies, Google and Facebook, seemed the least innovative in the local space with essentially me too products. Microsoft Bing was surprisingly one of the most innovative of the larger companies there and surprised everyone with their cool, innovative ideas. The biggest issue will be too many apps and too many social networks to maintain. At some point, someone will need to roll the best of these up into one network. Announcements
- www.Foursquare.com and www.Amex.com announced their partnership which is being piloted at SXSW in Austin. AMEX users see specials real time when they check in to locations and can use those specials immediately with their card. Badges also unlock when these are used.
- www.Wordpress.com founder announced that they will be adding location to blogs
- www.jiwire.com announced a new product called Compass that turns an ad into an app. In A/B testing, they saw 3x more click-throughs, more time on site, and more engagement on the ads when the ads became apps.
- www.Scvngr.com announced a great new game that builds loyalty around deals so that customers keep coming back to the location, even after the initial deal. This departs from the Groupon and Living Social type models that create one-time spikes, but little return visits from those first visits.
- www.bing.com gave a preview of an awesome technology they are launching soon that allows people to stitch together panoramic views of locations and crowd source them for their maps functionality. You have to see it to love it.
- www.Ditto.com is a fascinating concept. You check into activities rather than locations and it has more to do with what you want to do soon rather than what you are doing right now. They claim that the number of followers that will engage when they know what you want to do is much higher than information on where you are right now
- www.loopt.com pushes extremely high value, time sensitive deals to users based on where they are. They claim this combo of traits (high value, time sensitive, push to users) really motivates customers to act. They had a great case study where they pushed a deal for a buy one get one free deal to Mexico.
- www.whrrl.coim finds things for you that you are not searching for. It builds your social graph around your passions vs. your friend connections and predicts what you want based on these passions. Theory is super riveting, but I did not understand how the execution works…I will need to play with it.
- www.gowalla.com went through a fascinating case study on how they implemented really innovative location programs at Disney theme parks. They could actually design games that controlled the flow of traffic around various locations and drive net new traffic growth.
- www.jiwire.com turns location into a media platform. They own the media that is seen when people connect to wifi in airports.
- www.mondowindow.com was interesting and odd. They aim to reinvent in-flight entertainment by using the wifi on the plan to pipe in rich content to your phone around where you are flying at that moment.
- www.spiceworks.com asked why B2B marketers dont get to do fun things like badges, points, and parties. Their basic model is give applications free, create community, attract vendors, make money. They focus on SMBs. They do a good job of integrating offline and online through meetups and training across the globe given by their community members
- www.waze.com takes turn by turn navigation to a new level by giving you the most optimized route to take at this moment based on traffic and whole other set of factors. It does this by crowd sourcing the route content in addition to using regular feeds. They create games to motivate people to go off the route to places where the system needs more content crowd-sourced.
- www.yelp.com is continuing to evolve its platform. It’s integrating OpenTable, local check-ins, and deals. It also has great analytics dashboards for individual businesses to see the impact of what they are doing on Yelp in terms of traffic to their Yelp pages. ⅓ of Yelp searches are on mobile. Their deals are more effective because they target restaurants that already have good reviews. When they execute a deal there, they see the restaurant’s page traffic increase and stay higher afterwards.
- http://www.neighborgoods.net/ creates an exchange for local neighbors to share stuff. You only need one lawn mower on a street, right? Cool concept.
- www.dell.com CMO of Large Enterprise and Public gave a great presentation on whether physical place really matters and how in the future we will focus more on virtual places.
- www.Wordpress.com founder noted that blogs are not dead, the most interesting content actually comes from blogs, and, because they come from thousands of domains, they are the dark matter of the web where traffic is hard to fully quantify.
- www.bing.com gave a great presentation on the fundamental difference between search habits on mobile versus PC and the implications for search results. It was fascinating. For example, search chains (length of time related search terms are put in a browser) go on for weeks on the PC but <1 hour on mobile. Also, if a local search is 40 meters off, it is useless. Mobile search needs to address this.
- Saw a great overview from the head of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a project near and dear to me. This project has radically shifted brand perception, caused customers to engage with Pepsi more than just trasactionally, and has given Pepsi a tremendous amount of data on what local communities care about. This was NOT a corporate philanthropy effort but a spend of brand dollars. They are evolving the program to be more youthful, fun, and connected with more celebrities.
The hash tag was #fmsignal.