It was interesting to read TechCrunch’s breaking discovery of the new YP industry initiative by Yext, which it characterizes as the local media competitors to Google organizing an “Anti-Google Alliance” product, a description repeated by the WSJ. TC describes Yext Tags as a product that will “let small businesses highlight their names with a little tag and customizable message across about a dozen local listings sites”.
Greg Sterling also weighs in, more fully capturing the ad network model of Yext Tags. It was no small feat to pull off a distribution network with reach estimated to easily top 100 million unique visitors via the industry’s top local search websites. Google’s claim of a 2X ROI on Search Marketing spend with its Tags product certainly reinforces the potential for Tags to improve the return on SEM spend.
The pricing for this new product is $99/month/SMB, to be sold directly and via channel partners. This still contrasts as more expensive and unproven vs. the Google Tags penetration priced product. As a new unproven product the Yext Tag price point and trial terms seem like a tough sell, but of course that can readily change.
Looking at Tags More Closely
Tags represent one element of Closely’s media distribution products, making this an opportune time to share our viewpoint on how we see Tags fitting into the Social, Deal and Search ecosystems.
To us, Tags represent a brand new product category and model still very much in early formation. We think it can be one of the key linchpins connecting social, mobile and search through live publishing.
Tags as a Live Marketing Linchpin
Closely’s approach to live marketing combines publishing to social networks with expanded distribution (organic + syndicated). The current separation of social and search is transitional; we focus on giving a business control over what, where and when promotional offers are placed in front of consumers. Social networks provide great ways to connect with your followers and their friends, but offers are emerging as very powerful ways to capture the actions of searching consumers.
Tags are one element of this live distribution, connecting offers to mobile and web-based qualified consumer leads that most often are not directly in your social network.
As you see in the sample image, Closely Offer Tags provide for distribution of multiple live offers, deals or events, aimed at directory-centered media such as YP and mobile/map search. Publishing an offer is integrated with live distribution to Twitter, Facebook, website and email publishing, providing a single point of creation, distribution and tracking. Advanced scheduling features allows a business to have their offers and activities continually refreshed using a promotion calendar.
Tags: SEM-centered vs. Live Promotion Centered
There is a compelling argument that Tags should be positioned as an evolutionary product for SEM. In the world of search and map results, it’s difficult for a business listing to stand out. Positioned into this picture, it’s a convenient up-sell to let a business add a tag line or an offer that helps it stand out competitively.
Closely looks at the focus of Tags from a different lens. Our vision is that Tags should play out on a path to be a critical connecting point between live content and local search experience.
The Pull and Push of Live Small Business Content
Today, consumer business search centers on three decision sources – location, reference content (features, brands, hours, etc.), and review content. The most important new development in local search is the pull of a fourth element: live content and social context about a business.
The Daily Deal marketplace explosion has demonstrated how effective Deals can be to drive consumer purchase behavior. Promotional Offers (Daily Deals + Location-based live offers) are rapidly emerging as the next key content dimension in search-driven shopping – consumers are pulling for promotional content and businesses are beginning to push to stimulate demand.
The exciting news is that live content from local businesses is rapidly forming; Twitter and Facebook posting is increasingly commonplace. In various discussions with partners in this ecosystem over the past year, Closely has been excited to see the need for a more structured approach to live content about a local business being recognized.
Our standards-focused initiatives [more on this another time], has proposed to separate live local business content into three organizing groups that we refer to as Promotions (Offers, Deals, etc.), News & Events, and Chatter; to demonstrate this concept, we’ve mocked up a live profile/details page which partitions the business’ twitter stream to promote better consumer local shopping utility.
Bridging Live Social Marketing and Search is Very Strategic to Local Media
For most local media channels, quickly finding a path to involvement in social marketing for local businesses is perhaps the most strategic challenge to your business. To that viewpoint, Closely has chosen to center its attention on tightly aligning the concepts of Tags and Live Social Marketing.
There are very few ways in which search-centered local media companies can credibly package social and search into simple and powerful packages. Tags feels like one of the compelling connecting point.
Tags and Local Social Media
The worlds of Daily Deals, Mobile Offers and Live Content are in a whirling formation of transition. We view Tags as one of the more interesting ways to align the worlds, and create a predictable consumer experience of viewing the offers, activities, and chatter of/about a particular business.
Announcements such as the Yext Tag network model are encouraging in that they bring the Tag product category to the forefront. The real challenge will be for employing the product to its full potential – as a way for consumers to get the live content they are looking for, and as a way for local businesses to smartly leverage this as a live publishing channel, integrated with their social marketing opportunity.
It’s a smart time to connect the dots between social marketing and Tags. Viewing Tags as a simple SEM add-on can limit the opportunity to carve out a relevant role in the social media landscape.