From experimenting with hyperlocal publishing to bridging the gap between digital and real-world customers, this year’s Street Fight Summit covered a number of topics. The annual hyperlocal marketing and publishing conference, which took place in New York City on Nov 4, is the second Street Fight Summit that we’ve covered. And it seems to be growing in size; according to conference organizers, there were about 400 participants this year.
Many of these attendees held out for the last session of the conference, which focused on how digital companies can grab the attention of SMBs in an overcrowded market. Here’s what we learned from that session, as well as other parts of the Summit.
Hyperlocal Publishing Experimentation
Since the death of then-AOL-owned Patch, there has been much speculation about the future of hyperlocal publishing. Three publishing companies were represented at Street Fight Summit – Corner Media, which publishes a series of sites on neighbors in Brooklyn, N.Y.C.; Billy Penn, a mobile platform focused on the Philadelphia region that launched just two weeks; and Everyblock, now owned by Comcast, which aggregates content from publishers around geographic areas. None of the three companies are yet generating revenue, and they are all experimenting or considering different business models.
Jim Brady, founder of Billy Penn, said he plans on staying away from display advertising and focusing instead on events focused around areas of interest, such as politics and development. In fact, Brady had a viewing party planned for election night. “It’s about getting people in a room together,” he said.
Liena Zagare, publisher of Corner Media, said she is experimenting with different types of revenue models, including display advertising and announcements. “It keeps changing,” she said, adding she is also exploring membership options.
Paul Wright, director of local media for Everyblock, owned by Comcast, said Everyblock isn’t generating any revenue yet, and it is exploring a variety of options. It’s trying to decide whether to monetize viewership through platform, advertising, or activity.
In terms of engagement, all three noted that they see the most results through emails, with open rates for the trio ranging around 50 percent.
Ecommerce or Brick-and-Mortar?
In the past, consumers tended to either purchase products online or in a brick-and-mortar store. This behavior has changed; now they are checking out products in stores and purchasing online, or alternatively, researching products online and buying in stores. David Ramadge, head of venture outreach at eBay, talked about the fashion brand Kate Spade. He explained that the company wanted to launch a new campaign, Kate Spade Saturday, and to achieve this it leased four storefronts in New York City. It turned the glass in front of all four stores into giant touch screens, and consumers could buy securely using the screen, which was operated using Microsoft Connect, merging the online shopping world with reality.
There are many digital and social media marketing companies out there trying to get the attention of small and medium-sized businesses. GoDaddy is focusing on customer service and personalization, while Facebook is trying to build the easiest-to-use social media advertising that will achieve ROI for businesses. “We [GoDaddy] have been sending a lot of emails – let’s be honest – but I think it’s part of a bigger effort by the company right now going into personalization,” said Rene Reinsberg, general manager and vice president of product for GoDaddy.
Meanwhile, Facebook is trying to make the advertising process as simple as possible for SMBs. “Our goal at Facebook is to make ad products that people can understand, the value of those ad products and really understand the ROI of those ad products,” said Jonathan Czaja, director of SMB sales and service for Facebook in North America, noting that you can measure conversions with Facebook ads.
Over the summer, Facebook hosted five in-person conferences dubbed “Facebook Fit” – from Palo Alto to New York City focusing on advertising options for SMBs, especially Lookalike and Custom Audiences, which let you target people on your email lists or people similar to those on your email lists.