I wish I could just list a bunch of company names and that could substitute for thoughtful blog posts about all the companies that I should be writing about and all the interesting and potentially significant things going on (both here at ILM:05 and elsewhere this week). But given the demands of this conference and my general level of fatigue, I'll just talk about a couple of things with the few minutes I have.
The first is comScore SVP Jim Larrison's presentation on Day 1 of ILM:05 — "'How Much Search Is Really Local?"
We've estimated that Local Search is about 20 percent of overall search user behavior. Others have put out different numbers. comScore uses an admittedly "conservative" methodology in calculating Local Search — the company counts searches that happen on local domains (e.g., Local.Yahoo.com, Mapquest) and searches that happen with geographic modifiers of one sort or another (e.g., ZIP, city name). By that methodology, Larrison said that local was about 13% of search now.
But we have long believed there is a great deal more search that has a local intent but is hard to quantify because it's ambiguous (e.g., "probate attorney" w/o a geo-modifier) and not being captured by the "explicit" way of looking at local. Larrison generally agrees, and I asked him to do a deeper dive on the question.
Briefly, in his excellent presentation, he said that when you look closely at the user behavior (he gave a number of concrete examples), the real number is much closer to 35 percent or even 40 percent of search that is really trying to capture information that is in one way or another local — offline fulfillment/services, offline shopping, classifieds-oriented searches and so on. We'll write more about this later, and it obviously merits further discussion and investigation.
The second thing is Windows Live Local. Erik Jorgensen, general manager for MSN search, gave a keynote speech yesterday in which he demo'd "Windows Live Local" (different from "Fremont" — the classifieds site). Windows Live Local, which hasn't otherwise been announced (and goes live next week), is a mixing of local data, community features and Virtual Earth. But now they're launching the Pictometry aerial oblique imagery as a part of that. Erik referred to it generally as "immersive imagery" and discussed how Microsoft is putting it at the center of their local strategy.
What this is is mapping with angled shots taken from low flying planes. Erik showed some of the shots and the resolution plus the integration of data and tools (annotation, personalization) on top of the imagery made the entire package truly impressive. To use the vernacular, it was REALLY COOL.
There's going to be a great deal of coverage of this when it officially launches and it shows how the mapping space continues to be really really hot. In fact, mapping has been at the center of several discussions here at the show — all of which have been very interesting.
There's lots more to talk about regarding Erik's presentation, but what it showed (together with Fremont) is that Microsoft has arrived as a player in local search in a potentially big way.