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Before too many days pass in travel recovery mode, I wanted to get some of my thoughts down from BIA/Kelsey’s sessions at the EASDP Congress in Toledo Spain on Friday.  As background, we programmed and ran the second day of the two-day event.

We were able to recruit a quality lineup of speakers from different geographies and sectors that orbit local media and search. This included Yelp, Yandex, Telmetrics, and Thomson Local (U.K.) among others.

Mind the Gap

One of the themes that carried thoughout the day was Neal Polachek’s aptly named “Mind the Gap”. A growing gap, he contends, lies between SMB ability/understanding, and the quickly evolving local ad options pelting them.

The widening of this gap can be explained by the acceleration of technology and product development, while SMB realities (time constraints, ability) remain constant. This is supportive of the agency-like approach that has been a rally cry in local for a few years.

Another solution he introduced was the idea of franchised local businesses like Aspen Dental, which let proprietors focus on their craft, while the central organization achieves economies of scale (and know-how) with things like payroll and marketing.

Building on the agency theme, Thomson Local’s Alastair Thornton likened the role of local media organizations in today’s environments to “fund managers”.  In other words, place SMBs’ chips in an optimal media mix, while reporting bottom line ROI.

“The locksmith doesn’t tell me all of the inner workings of my lock that needs to be fixed,” said Thornton, “He just fixes it.” (more from Thornton can be read in the recent BIA/Kelsey case study on Thomson Local’s mobile strategy).

This is especially appropriate given the above mentioned SMB capacity constraints, but becomes even more valuable given an increasingly dizzying array of social, mobile and local ad offerings. Again, mind the gap.

Just Like Regular Data, But Bigger

Speaking of dizzy, another important theme was big data.  Yellow Medya’s Trevor Nadeau made the convincing argument that in less developed markets like Turkey, a good location database is at least as valuable as a large sales organization.

Carrying on the data theme, Telmetrics CEO Bill Dinan talked about the great knowledge position that can be gained from processing tens of millions of calls per month and tracking 3.5 million lines (see Telmetrics release).

Here the opportunity comes back to the fact that 60-80 percent of online search leads to offline capture. So the ability to attribute leads and present them to advertisers in a meaningful way represents a huge opportunity.

Calls are also a good way to do this because they aren’t hampered by platform fragmentation, and are the “cross media metric” according to Dinan. More importantly, they’re valued by SMBs… to the tune of 61 percent of merchants, he says.

This gets even more salient in an increasingly mobile world. Advertisers “get” mobile he argues. There are also higher value leads and other metrics (such as call duration) coming from mobile. See our post that quantifies Telmetrics data further.

Mobile in fact came up many times throughout the day. To some it’s also a sales tool in that entry level mobile products can be low hanging fruit in selling SMBs. Its apeal as the “new shiny thing” join Dinan’s point that SMBs “get it”.

The idea is to take SMB content and quickly build a mobile presence. That can be a good foot in the door for established relationships that are then developed into larger spends and broader media bundles.

Sales, Recruiting, Social & Taking on Google… Stay Tuned

The day ended with a stirring presentation from Yelp’s Paul Reich about the very specific tactical dynamics of establishing and recruiting a local media sales organization — something Yelp continues to do overseas.

The takeaways from that session alone deserve their own post as do many of the speakers above, not to mention AdKnowledge’s Fabio Pigo and Yandex’s Leonid Shnyr. We’ll continue to unpack it (as I myself unpack) in the coming days.

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