The Near Memo

Greg Sterling, Mike Blumenthal & David Mihm

Exploring the big stories for the week at the intersection of local business & marketing across the spectrum of search, social and commerce. With Greg Sterling, Mike Blumenthal & David Mihm.

Amazon doing Local Ads, Yep it, Apple BNPL & Search developments, Auto created Google Ads showing up
Jun 9 2022
Amazon doing Local Ads, Yep it, Apple BNPL & Search developments, Auto created Google Ads showing up
Amazon has been posting new job positions for “rare opportunity to join a start-up business within Amazon Ads and play a strategic role in building the future of Local Ads”. It is hard to know exactly what it is they are building but talk of building relationships with agencies, clients, and service providers to scope solutions, partnerships, and business opportunities that result in the acceleration of Amazon's Advertising growth in New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. Regardless, it is clear that they are looking to grow their ad business via local and looking to take Google (and perhaps Walmart) on directly in the space. Can Yep It get off the ground and sustain an income stream or is it just another “ankle biter”. There are many wannabes in the search space with many different models, Yep It is trying to partner with content creators first and foremost. Although the question remains how will they get consumer uptake to make it work?There was a great deal of speculation about an “Apple Search Engine” with dreams of a Google competitor that actually had consumer support. What Apple in fact did do was elevate Spotlight to a place of prominence and use AI, the Siri Knowledge Graph and local access to deliver on an improved “federated” search as a feature not a destination. While they were at it they rolled out an incredibly consumer friendly buy now pay later plan that apparently does not get reported to the credit bureaus if you drop the ballThe Near Memo is a weekly conversation about Search, Social, and Commerce: What happened, why it matters, and the implications for local businesses and national brands.EP 68 Near Memo
Apple search engine, GBP product kerfuffle, Walmart stores to be used for 3rd party local delivery
Jun 4 2022
Apple search engine, GBP product kerfuffle, Walmart stores to be used for 3rd party local delivery
Rumors have surfaced that Apple will roll out a general purpose search engine at WWDC this week. Will it be browser based? Available on the desktop? Apple has historically favored “search as a feature” over the years as they have slowly built out Siri, Spotlight and Safari search. The UI/UX could use a refresh and it could become more obvious but will it be a Google replacement? Probably not. The disappearance of the Product feature from the Google Business Profile caused lots of speculation.Whether it was a bug or a very small test that was not meant to be seen, the removal of the Product feature from the Google Business Profile (and to be replaced by Merchant Center) last week lead many to soul search about the role of real time inventory in Google’s push for ever more granular data. Google has been taking a holistic commerce strategy (online and in-store inventory) to create a more complete consumer offering than Amazon. Walmart announced that they will offer last mile same day delivery to 3rd parties from their storesWalmart continues to push the boundaries of on-line/offline commerce and publicly shared that they will be using their many locations as a warehouse and point of delivery for 3rd party resellers. Can their retail stores efficiently function in this capacity? Can they compete with both Google AND Amazon with this strategy?The Near Memo is a weekly conversation about Search, Social, and Commerce: What happened, why it matters, and the implications for local businesses and national brands.Near Memo Ep 67
Ratings vs Review Text, Can G Ad automation replace agencies?, Will Musk torpedo Twitter ads?
Apr 30 2022
Ratings vs Review Text, Can G Ad automation replace agencies?, Will Musk torpedo Twitter ads?
It is generally assumed that the ratings aspect of reviews is what drives conversions and thus they are typically emphasized. However it would appear that in many cases that the content of the “top 3” most visible reviews actually influence purchase decisions more than the star ratings. In a clever study design these researchers were able to disentangle the relative importance of ratings versus the text in the top 3 reviews. Google announced upgrades to their Performance Max product and that it will provide a one-click upgrade (and replacement) path for both previous Smart Campaigns and Local Campaigns. Google Ads have long been moving towards an automated model to maximize effectiveness and away from the need for curated ad management. This is another step on that path and seems to make product ads almost as easy as their hands-off LSA ads. There is a need for rigorous A/B testing by enterprises to determine the value of each approach.Even though Twitter is making user gains, it is likely that advertising on Twitter will be negatively affected by the types of changes that Elon Musk is suggesting. Obviously depending on specific product changes that Musk might make, it is an open question whether data licensing or advertising will be the primary path to profits. The Near Memo is a weekly conversation about Search, Social, and Commerce: What happened, why it matters, and the implications for local businesses and national brands.Near Memo Ep 62
Featured Snippets & Ranking, Consumer Expectations: Chat vs SMS, Google Product Images in Local Packs
Mar 25 2022
Featured Snippets & Ranking, Consumer Expectations: Chat vs SMS, Google Product Images in Local Packs
Most featured snippets come from what would have been organic results 1 through 3. However 20% of featured snippets come from results 6-10 and while featured snippets do not offer the click through rate of a #1 organic result, if you can answer a question query well and jump from a position down the page, it can be a huge SEO win and a quick way to the top of the rankings. Consumers had much higher expectations of chat response than SMS. With live chat, users expect responses within minutes and with SMS there is a much greater latitude. What does this mean for business responses to customers when the number of messages coming from different sources? By switching to asynchronous messaging businesses can gain an advantage in responding to customers that customers might prefer. A hallmark of Google’s competition with Amazon strategy is their integration of local product search with local business search. This development, of showing products and product availability in the 3 pack, is a tell of both Google’s product search ambitions and of the direction of their local search results. The ability to integrate real time product availability directly into local search results indicates Google's aggressive move into a local search result that is both more visual AND more transactional.The Near Memo is a weekly conversation about Search, Social, and Commerce: What happened, why it matters, and the implications for local businesses and national brands.Near Memo Ep 57