Wednesday, January 2, 2013

4 Lessons From Social Media Chatter About Holiday Shopping

Eric Savitz 12/24/2012
Guest post written by Niels Meersschaert

Niels Meersschaert is senior VP of technology at LocalResponse, which uses social media to determine consumer intentions.

With the 2012 holiday shopping season coming to a close and marketers turning their attention to closing the gap between social media advertising and point of sale purchases, there’s a massive amount of information to digest. While nearly impossible to get a complete picture of the entire retail landscape, there are a number of recent social media trends that can at least help us focus our analysis.

Looking back on the year, it’s easy see the huge role that social media has played for retailers. We are really seeing the birth and evolution of social targeting as more consumers get comfortable sharing their interests and brands and products, and following likes on Facebook, re-Tweets on Twitter, or check-ins on Foursquare, have become just as telling as Nielsen Ratings are to the broadcast industry.

Here’s a look at four trends that will have a profound affect on targeting not just over the upcoming holiday, but also in 2013 and beyond.

  • Intent Based on Social Media Chatter Predicts New Shopping Traffic Peaks

Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you it’s not enough to know what people are interested in buying. It’s just as important to know when consumers will make their purchasing decisions. Thanks to consumers voluntarily sharing this type of intent over social media, the data is now easier to track than ever – you just need to know where and how to look for it.

Sharing a glimpse of our proprietary Black Friday check-in data across all major social media channels showed that after the initial rush of shoppers at midnight Eastern Time, the second most popular time for shopping was 10 a.m. Eastern time Saturday morning. Interestingly, 10 a.m. ET was also the most popular time for Cyber Monday shopping.

This is a pretty significant departure from regular shopping peaks found earlier in the year, which showed that Saturday between 2 and 3 p.m ET accounted for the highest broadcasts of intent and check-ins, followed by Friday between 8 and 9 p.m. ET. Smart retailers will be wise to consider this when implementing promotions and other incentives into the display campaigns, especially if they want to influence and increase transactions at the register.

  • Big Shopping Days Can Actually Mean LESS Business for Some Retailers

According to ShopperTrak, the November-December time period can account for as much as 40 percent of retailer’s annual sales, so it would seem like common sense to assume that retailers should expect to see a huge spike over these heavy shopping periods. The data tells a different story however. According to our reports, some large retailers actually saw a decrease in check-ins compared to the weekend before Black Friday.

Costco, for instance was the big loser over Thanksgiving weekend, with check-in traffic decreasing by about half from the previous weekend. The mega-retailer’s traditionally low prices actually drove consumers to search for unusually good deals offered elsewhere.

  • Data Shows An Early Hook for the Nook

It doesn’t take a mathematics genius to figure out that the Apple iPad will clearly dominate tablet sales this holiday. Based on social media chatter, Apple’s hit tech gadget captured the clear majority of displayed intent among all major tablet brands. A distant second from iPad and certainly not surprising runner-up was Amazon’s Kindle, with about one quarter the volume of intent of iPad across the same media channels.

However, looking at mentions over the Black Friday weekend, most surprising of all was Barnes & Noble’s Nook line of tablets and e-readers, which saw social media intent increase significantly from the previous weekend.

That was by far the largest increase in the tablet category. Important to note here that Nook also had four times as much intent displayed across public social media channels as the Microsoft Surface tablet, and twice as much as theGoogle Nexus tablets.

Judging from this lift, all signs point toward renewed interest in the Nook line, especially the recently introduced Nook HD and HD+. And not surprisingly, Nook sales reflected this, as Barnes & Noble was recently quoted as saying that sales of its Nook had doubled over the weekend compared to the previous weekend.

  • Check-Ins Changing Charts as Retailers Take Stock of their Stock

Let’s face it. Every consumer wants a fantastic deal. But affordable prices are only half the battle when it comes to retail sales. How stock prices fluctuate in response to this surge in shopping behavior can ultimately determine the real winners and losers.

Among the retailers we tracked, Best Buy had the greatest proportional increase in check-ins during Black Friday and over the course of the weekend, which translated into a noticeable bump in its stock immediately after the weekend.

Target saw a substantial, but far smaller increase in check-ins than Best Buy, and Target stock was also one of the first to see a decline after Black Friday weekend.

While there are many factors affecting stock prices, it’s an intriguing possibility that social intent expressed by consumers could trend so strongly with retail stocks. It might be assumed that aggregate data could then be used to determine the strength of other markets as well, including automotive, fashion, and others, offering further evidence of intent/stock price correlation.

With consumers sharing more and more about their interests and purchasing habits, social media analytics has emerged from the engineering room to fast become one the most useful tools in a retailers arsenal. Brands, or savvy hedge funds for that matter, who use this information will have a noticeable advantage over their competition, leading to better targeting, hyper-targeting and an array of new opportunities that this information opens up.

DisclosureBestBuy and Microsoft are previous LocalResponse clients.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mobile Women to Watch 2013

Kathy Leake
President and cofounder
LocalResponse 
New York

What do you most like about your job?

The ability to innovate in a growing field. I get a lot of satisfaction from inventing new methods of targeting and putting them on the map in the ad ecosystem. 

Also, taking a company from ideation stage and turning it into a revenue-generating business is really rewarding for me.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?

All of the above. There is nothing tougher than taking something that is just an idea in a PowerPoint and turning it into a real business. Creating demand for something that never existed before, in the ad industry, is a nearly impossible task.  Since this is my second time doing that, I guess I am a masochist.

What is your work priority for 2013?

Taking the company to the next level. We need to continue our trajectory aggressively in 2013. And by that I mean, at a minimum, doubling revenue and demand

What will it take to attract more women to mobile marketing?

This probably applies to both women and men, but seeing mobile ad spend increase in alignment with consumer adoption and usage will attract more to our field. Once this happens, it will truly be a greenfield opportunity for everyone. 

There is also an opportunity for women to snag new jobs at a Fortune 500 brand, as the creation of the head of mobile position is on the rise.

Your proudest achievement in mobile?

The fact that Local Response has been able to help marketers capitalize on real time intent-based data, helping them reach consumers at the point of decision on their mobile phone. It is a huge and growing opportunity for marketers.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Moment You Tweet Or Take An Instagram Photo, LocalResponse Helps Relevant Advertisers Find You

Alyson Shontell | Dec. 11, 2012

If advertisers are going to show up in our social media feeds, they may as well show us things we’ve expressed interest in.

That’s what ad guy and angel investor Nihal Mehta figured when he founded LocalResponse in June 2011. A year and a half later, his social media ad targeting company is doing very well.

LocalResponse helps advertisers scour more than 30 million social media profiles on the web and in mobile apps. It looks for mentions of brands in real-time and sifts through tweets, Instagram photos, Foursquare check-ins and Facebook status messages to help companies place relevant, timely ads by matching socialID to cookies on desktops, or unique identifiers/ifa on mobile devices.

For example, if a user tweets “just went for a run,” LocalResponse sees the cookie in an ad exchange like AppNexus, bids on that impression, and displays a Nike ad to that same user on another website.

Its revenue is growing too. Local Response’s president Kathy Leake says 2012 revenue has increased 10X from last year.

If we assume LocalResponse generated between $500,000 and $1 million last year (it generated $50,000 in its launch month of May from its Twitter product alone), then the company is generating at least $3-6 million this year.

LocalResponse also says it’s adding three big names to its board: Satya Patel, formerly of GoogleBattery Ventures and Twitter, Nat Turner, the InviteMedia co-founder who sold his business to Google for a lot of cash, and Tobias Petts, formerly of Walmart.

LocalResponse now has 30 employees, and it has raised more than $5 million. The company says it expects its social media profile reach to increase 50% next year.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Report Reveals 79% Of ‘Check-Ins’ Take Place On Foursquare

Written by Alicia Fiorletta   

Friday, 09 November 2012

Localization is becoming a hot topic among retailers striving to better connect with mobilized consumers. By harnessing the power of geo-targeting technology and “check-in” tools available on social networking sites, merchants can pinpoint their consumers’ locations in stores, leading to more relevant messages and offers — and potentially increased purchases. 

For the Consumer Check-in ReportLocalResponse, a location-based social media engagement solution provider, analyzed the check-in behaviors and preferences of U.S. consumers during the summer of 2012, based off of a sample of data aggregated on the LocalResponse advertising platform, which currently serves up more than 7 billion impressions a month.

In addition, LocalResponse drilled down on the number of check-ins taking place via Foursquare, Instagram, Twitter and Yelp within brick-and-mortar locations of the top 10 U.S. retailers. These merchants include: Best Buy, Costco, CVS Caremark, The Home Depot; Kroger, Lowe’s, Safeway, Target, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart.

Results from the study indicated that overall, Foursquare was the most popular geo-location service for consumers in stores, accounting for 79% of all check-ins among the top 10 retailers. Instagram was the least popular social network for consumers to check in, garnering only 1.4% of the total sample.

Shoppers’ total check-in rates within stores of the top 10 U.S. retailers are as follows:

  • Wal-Mart (38%)
  • Target (15%)
  • Costco (9%)
  • Best Buy (7%)
  • Walgreens (6%)
  • The Home Depot (6%)
  • CVS Caremark (5%)
  • Lowe’s (5%)
  • Safeway (4%)
  • Kroger (4%)
     

“A lot of attention has been paid to the way brands differ in social activities, but we wanted to be more specific by measuring foot traffic in physical locations,” Michael Muse, Co-Founder and VP of Product and Operations at LocalResponse, told Retail TouchPoints. “One interesting finding is that there are key times when retailers can expect elevated social broadcast of foot traffic. This information enables them to prioritize their ad spend based on the time of day, offer more timely promotions, or utilize other methods to capture the ebbs and flows of consumers’ social activities.”

Saturday was the most popular day for shoppers to utilize geo-location services, with 25.9% of all check-ins made on that day, according to the report. The next most popular day was Friday, during which 19.7% of check-ins were completed. Furthermore, the LocalResponse research spotlighted 2 p.m. Eastern Time as the retail “check-in primetime” in America, then Friday between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern Time, and Saturday between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Shopper gender also impacted the quantity of check-ins being completed in stores: men totaled 54% of check-ins, while women accounted for 46%.

Overall, Muse expects geo-location services to continue to grow. “We believe retailers should take advantage of the data available when consumers volunteer the time, date and location of their visit to a store and share it with their social graph. These behaviors present a valuable opportunity for marketers: By releasing targeted offers and specials based on shoppers’ locations, retailers can create extremely effective and memorable high-touch experiences.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

LocalResponse Hires Product Development Leader

November 8 2012

Advertising software veteran Niels Meersschaert has joined consumer retargeting platform LocalResponse, to lead the team responsible for building new products and enhancing existing tools.

New York-based LocalResponse offers targeted ad solutions such as ‘Intent Targeting’ and ‘Historical Intent Targeting’, to enable brands to serve targeted banner ads to consumers, based on present and past public social media behavior. Every month, the firm monitors over half a billion pieces of consumer intent data across public social networks. 

Meersschaert (pictured) joins from search retargeting specialist Magnetic, where as a founding employee and principle architect, he was responsible for the company’s overall platform. Prior to that, he worked as the Senior Technologist of Worldwide e-commerce for luxury brand Gucci, built the search engine and syndication tools for BusinessWeek Online, and founded mobile entertainment and ad company PixelJump. 

Commenting on Meersschaert’s appointment as Senior Vice President of Technology, CEO Nihal Mehta said: ‘As the market and our business continues to scale, we’re excited to inject significant, relevant experience to the leadership of our technology team.’ 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rivals2nite, besties tomorrow: the unlikely beginnings of one of New York’s hot adtech alliances

November 8, 2012

AppNexus and LocalResponse are two well-known names in New York tech, partly because of their growing stronghold on the respective RTB and social mobile markets. And partly because their founders, Brian O’Kelly and Nihal Mehta, each have their own mini-cult followings of adtech fanboys and girls.

Their companies, which act as a gateway for the buying and selling of display ads (AppNexus), and connecting advertisers with mobile customers via social media (LocalResponse) work together to make mobile and display ads more contextual. But O’Kelley and Mehta weren’t always boosting each others’ bottom lines. In fact, back in the late 90s, they were bitter rivals.

It didn’t help that the 1999 college grads came from rival schools: O’Kelley graduated from Princeton and Mehta, Penn. After graduating, Mehta launched Philly2nite, a nightlife guide and city search. Amid the bubblicious dotcom days, he raised venture capital and tried to get the “2nite” brand trademarked so he could build a “2nite” empire. “We wanted every city plus “2nite.com,” he says. “The early dot com days were all about ‘Look at me, I have so many domain names, ha ha ha!’”

But in the process of trademarking and buying the domains for city after city plus “2nite,” Mehta found his genius play on the word “tonight” was not so original. In LA, O’Kelley had already launched LA2nite and was quickly amassing West Coast cities to his network. Mehta tried to sue but came up fruitless because O’Kelley had already bought the domain names. So both sides resorted to idle threats, shit-talking and posturing. “We were really young — 21, 22 years old,” Mehta says. “It was funny, we were literally arch rivals.”

If the Wayback Machine is correct, the two sites looked almost exactly the same, too. Apparently a black background with neon headlines connoted nightlife fun! in 1999.

Mehta ended up renaming his network to the equally as generic UrbanGroove and transitioned into a syndication model, where he partnered with local city guides and created networks around them. After the dotcom bubble burst, he’d heard O’Kelly had been fired from his own startup. “So we were pretty happy about that,” he joked. That is, until he tried to raise another round of funding for his own company and found it to be impossible. UrbanGroove collapsed. Mehta and O’Kelley both found themselves attracted to different parts of the advertising word: O’Kelley to realtime bidding and Mehta to mobile.

O’Kelley learned how “the art of arbitrage” related to advertising. He eventually started RightMedia, a desktop ad exchange, which he sold to Yahoo in 2007 for $680 million.

Meanwhile Mehta founded SMS advertising company Ipsh!, which in 2006 sold to Omnicom in what he called “not a $700 million exit, but still a good exit.” He realized he may have been a bit early in trying to monetize mobile experiences. The company he started next, LocalResponse, has a lot more tools to work with, namely, the smartphone.

Each with an exit under his belt, O’Kelley and Mehta’s “2nite cold wars” became ancient history. They reconnected under slightly more mature and friendlier circumstances in New York. Mehta’s wife, Reshma Saujani, ran for Congress two years ago and O’Kelley hosted a few fundraising events for her alongside Square and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. O’Kelley also donated space in the AppNexus office to 20 girls participating in Saujani’s philanthropic project, Girls Who Code.

O’Kelley and Mehta have also invested along side one another in several angel deals, including Tapap. But most importantly, they are business partners.

Beginning in May of this year, the companies struck a partnership that Mehta says brings “deep integration” to the two services. LocalResponse combines the “intent data” it takes from social media posts with AppNexus’s powerful audience data. “They have the reach and we provide the context,” Mehta says. The two don’t compete, for now at least. AppNexus deals primarily in desktop ads and LocalResponse deals primarily in mobile data, but together they can present buyers a more complete picture of their target audience. It may not have the tantalizing drama of a heated rivalry between two young nightlife startups. But that’s okay — this chapter of the story will probably have a better (and more profitable) ending.

LocalResponse Appoints Entrepreneur Niels Meersschaert as Senior VP of Technology

Advertising and Software Veteran to Lead Technology Team for Consumer Intent Retargeting Platform

November 07, 2012

LocalResponse, the first advertising platform that helps marketers respond to real-time consumer intent, today announced that Niels Meersschaert has been hired as senior vice president of technology. Meersschaert has extensive experience in advertising and software development and has managed a wide range of product solutions from startup companies such as Magnetic and PixelJump, to global brands such as BusinessWeek and Gucci. In his new role at LocaResponse, Meersschaert will focus on building and testing new products, as well as delivering enhancements to the company’s current suite of social retargeting tools already in use by some of the world’s largest companies.

“As the market and our business continues to scale, we’re excited to inject significant, relevant experience to the leadership of our technology team,” said Nihal Mehta, CEO of LocalResponse.

Meersschaert joins LocalResponse from Magnetic, a leading provider of search retargeting for digital media, where he was a founding employee and principle architect. There, he was responsible for the company’s overall platform, including real-time search retargeting and UI for campaign management. Prior to that, Meersschaert worked as the senior technologist of worldwide e-commerce for Gucci, where he was responsible for the architecture and user experience of the in-house content management system that powers Gucci’s global e-commerce and marketing sites.

Prior to GucciMeersschaert built the search engine and syndication tools for BusinessWeek Online, and was the founder and lead developer at PixelJump, an early pioneer in mobile advertising, where he led development for several initiatives, including location-based advertising, mobile games and e-commerce stores.

“LocalResponse is already responsible for some of the more exciting developments in the web and mobile advertising space, and I’m excited about the opportunity to work with an insanely talented team of entrepreneurs and seasoned marketing executives to make a lasting imprint on the future contextual based ads,” said Niels Meersschaert.

With Meersschaert’s hire, LocalResponse continues its commitment to innovation in the targeted advertising space. This year, it has introduced solutions like Intent Targeting and Historical Intent Targeting (HIT), which allows brands to serve hyper-targeted banner ads to consumers based on present and past public social media behavior, as well as the launch of a new mobile in-store circular through its partnership with ShopLocal, a Gannett company. Every month, the company serves more than 7 billion brand impressions over its advertising platform, and monitors over half a billion pieces of consumer intent daily across public social networks.

LOCALRESPONSE HAS HIRED NIELS MEERSSCHAERT AS TECH CHIEF

Nov. 6, 2012

Meersschaert was formerly a developer and technologist at Gucci, Business Week and Magnetic. He takes the title of svp/technology at the mobile social media retargeting company.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Turn the Clock on Ad Targeting

By , Published October 25, 2012

Advertisers everywhere, rejoice! A more precise way for you to target consumers through social media has been released. LocalResponse has teamed up with Datasift – a social data platform – for historical intent targeting (HIT).

Historical intent targeting allows marketers to access social information from public networks, such as TwitterInstagram and FourSquare. It can pull only from information that has been made publicly available. For example, a pin shared on Twitter is fair game.

LocalResponse says that although this targeting method is available for all advertisers, they are focusing more on the retail and entertainment industries for now. HIT offers the opportunity for marketers to send more relevant messages to consumers.

Those looking to advertise the up-coming DVD release of a movie, for instance, can go back and find all of the people who tweeted about seeing it in theaters. Entering into the holiday season, retailers can look at previous tweets to discover the most talked about shopping locations on Black Friday.

Another way in which HIT is helpful is in identifying the progression of the purchase path. If a user tweeted in 2010 about being pregnant, then brands such as Baby Gap have insight into who their current customers may be, increasing the accurateness of messages.

Similar to the social ad targeting capabilities on Facebook, this certainly has the potential to increase advertising effectiveness. By taking personal thoughts and interests into account, brands can further increase their knowledge on audience demographics.

Reaching back into the past can leave more room for error as preferences change, but it also can appeal to user nostalgia or predict current information based off of previous check-ins or tweets. It will all come down to how brands decide to utilize this new pool of information.

Monday, October 15, 2012

LocalResponse Can Now Target Ads Through Historical Social Data

By Mike Stenger

LocalResponse offers valuable advertising solutions to small and big business and now the company has introduced new ad targeting options for historical data and check ins. Businesses have been able to target users based on their tweets, but not tweets that go further back in time.

For example, say Bob talked about seeing a new movie several months ago. Now, that movie is available to order on Blu-ray and DVD so LocalResponse can target Bob with an ad for the movie. This new service is great for advertisers and since ads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, better targeting is always a great way to remove the nuisance of adverts for consumers.

Businesses will be able to examine historical data not just from Twitter, but also Instagram and Foursquare. Foursquare offers a very interesting benefit to companies as people are not only checking into their locations, but also potentially saying why they are there.

Walgreens for example has used LocalResponse’s Direct Response product to tweet customers as they check in to a location. With historical data, this opens up far more opportunities to better understand customers and provide a more in-depth and meaningful  experience.

Considering that Instagram has quickly grown to surpass Twitter in terms of mobile daily active users (DAUs), this shift represents a new potential goldmine for advertisers.