Attending the next Kelsey Local Search conference, on a press pass

I attended The Kelsey Group’s DD:ILM (Drilling Down: Interactive Local Media) conference in Santa Clara, CA during my time with KRD, and was impressed with the caliber of the discussions (and therefore, the attendees). The show was sold out (and then some), and the buzz meter was high.

Regardless of the buzz, there was substance to be had. I walked away with a couple of key insights into the minds of SME’s with regards to local search (some confirmation of my own thinking and more importantly, some new learning). In particular:

1) PPC should stand for Pay Per Call, not Pay Per Click for the next few years in Local. For many local advertisers, web transactions aren’t applicable (ask your tailor) and web leads aren’t believable; they want the phone to ring. No surprise then, to see a company like FindWhat launching a Pay-Per-Call offering. (The real surprise, in my book, is that none of the majors have acquired Ingenio.)

Pay Per Call will grow in 2005. Period.

2) Just like Pay Per Call provider Ingenio, online coupon companies, such as technology provider Coupons, Inc. and newspaper sweetheart CustomCoupon, stand to benefit by providing a bridge between online and offline, and driving people into local businesses. Evidence? Check out my blurb on IAC finding the religion, marrying CitySearch and Entertainment Publications.

If online coupons are ever going to happen, it’ll be in large thanks to Local Search / Directory.

3) What local businesses who are using SEM local about the medium is its ability to allow them to fully express their businesses, at a price that provides substantially more value than Yellow Pages. An example: a local photographer put up his portfolio, references, schedule, etc. Even if the Yellow Pages could accomodate that much information (they can’t), he’d be looking at $10s to $100s of thousands of dollars! Online, he pays a few bucks a month to host.

The needs of local businesses have changed, and the online medium (especially coupled with Pay Per Call, Online [Secure] Coupons and plentiful real estate) will, in time, serve them as aptly as it serves Amazon today.

And so, I was thrilled (and honored) to get an email from The Kelsey Group, inviting me to attend this year’s conference in Jersey City on a press pass. As with the last event, the speakers look great, and the agenda looks solid.

This year, I’m hoping to meet a bunch of new folks, including:

Marc Barach, CMO, Ingenio Inc.

Dave Hamel, CMO, CrossMedia Services/

Jas Dhillon, President & CEO, ZeroDegrees Inc.

Taek Kwon, EVP, Product & Technology, Citysearch

Andrew Shotland, VP, Business Development, InsiderPages

And, I’m looking to catch up with a slew of friends, including:

Bill Bradford, Executive Director, E-Commerce Product Marketing, AOL

Mark Canon, VP, Business Development, Switchboard division of InfoSpace

Phil Dubois, President & CEO,CityXpress

Paul Levine, General Manager, Yahoo! Local

Kirsten Mangers, Chief Strategic Officer, SME Global Solutions

Terry Millard, President, Planet Discover

Dariusz Paczuski, VP, Local Products, America Online

Sukhinder Singh, General Manager, Local, Google

Geoff Stevens, GM, Local, Overture Services

Rick Szatkowski, SVP & General Manager, Network/Private Label

Drop me a note if you’re attending, and would like to connect! tony _[at]_

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