BIA/Kelsey Program Director Mike Boland ran yet another data packed and insightful mobile forum that attendees have come to love and expect at each BIA/Kelsey conference. With a power-packed lineup of speakers, Boland and the panelists covered the waterfront of topics including mobile ad targeting; mobile deals, payment and loyalty; and mobile product development.
Boland kicked off the panel noting BIA/Kelsey’s recently released 2011-2016 mobile local forecast in which mobile local searches will eclipse desktop local searches in 2016 with 113 billion searches. Meanwhile, mobile local ad revenues will hit $5 billion in that same year. What’s driving the mobile local growth? Boland reported three key reasons: increased usage; advertiser evolution; and premium ad rates that might be tied to Facebook sponsored stories, gaming and the like. Paths to how mobile local leaders will monetize local include campaign management, deals, landing pages, pay per call and paid search.
Speakers Walt Doyle, CEO of Where, and John Valentine, VP East Coast of SCVNGR/LevelUp, talked about their respective views on mobile payments. Doyle said referring to eBay’s acquisition of Where: “It’s been a big year. As a company, it’s been a six-year overnight success.”
Now a part of the PayPal unit of eBay, Where has more than 70 million users. Doyle noted about the acquisition that a key strength of Where was walking people into physical locations, but building a payment tool was a “mountain that we weren’t going to climb.” That led to a conversation with PayPal about how they could work together. Doyle reported that Where became the demand generation engine for PayPal to move payments into the physical world. This past year has been a process of building this technology out and now works with large retailers like Home Depot, Petco and Best Buy and small retailers alike.
Today, users can pay three different ways. For instance at Home Depot, users can continue to use a typical screen environment and identify themselves by typing in their phone number; they can use a Where/PayPal magnetic strip card; or they can tap and pay with their phone.
LevelUp also has a mobile payment technology that exists in nine U.S. cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta where it was more than 100,000 users and 1,400 merchants participating. Right now, said John Valentine, VP – East Coast for SCVNGR/LevelUp, “everyone is trying to get in this space. It’s a land grab.”
Valentine said that LevelUp’s approach has been simple — create a loyalty program to get people to use it. Another key practice that LevelUp has used is feet on the street outside retail locations to talk to shoppers about using the system and offering them an incentive. What will the mobile payment ecosystem look like in the next couple of years? According to Valentine there will be some consolidation and five major platforms will remain.
Rounding out the mobile forum were Doug McDonald of goMobi and Darren Waddell of Reply. McDonald talked about goMobi’s (part of dotMobi) approach as a reseller of mobile websites. Waddell spoke of the new mobile application targeted at the home improvement category that Reply will be rolling out under the MerchantCircle brand. Adding on to the current merchant-focused app where merchants can control their Web presence, create deals, respond to reviews and other actions, new functionality will include a lead store with related functionality.