local business

Facebook now has 1M active advertisers

Facebook announced today that the company now has one million active advertisers — companies or organizations that have advertised on the social network at least once in the last 28 days.

The future of local is real time and mobile

Since the mid-1990s, entrepreneurs have been trying to tackle the local market. Many have failed. Others, like Yelp and Groupon, have been successful selling services to small businesses, but those services are of dubious value. (Disclosure: I have puts against Yelp and Groupon.)

Groupon study

Study: Groupon’s merchant quality is on the downslide

Have you had the feeling the quality of Groupon deals is going down? If so, you’re right. A report released this morning by Giorgos Zervas, a postdoctoral fellow of computer science at Yale University, shows that the average rating of a Groupon merchant before a deal runs is declining as Groupon matures. Zervas and other researchers had shown earlier that a business’s individual Yelp ratings dropped after running a Groupon. Yelp ratings by Groupon customers were, on average, 10% lower than those of their peers. (Disclosure: I met Zervas after the initial study and offered my theory that the average Yelp rating of merchants featured would be declining.)

Check-ins

AmEx is the king of check ins — and it could own local

Getting enough data to make local recommendations has proved tough. A restaurant reviewer writing for a local newspaper might write a hundred or so reviews a year. Zagat might cover several thousand in its printed books. Yelp provides near universal coverage in the United States, but it still doesn’t have enough information to provide useful recommendations.

Why Andrew Mason is still wrong about Groupon’s prospects

After an accounting restatement, a shuffling of its board of directors and Groupon’s stock falling to below 50 percent of its initial public offering price (and 66 percent off the high it reached on its first day of trading), Groupon CEO Andrew Mason wrote a letter to shareholders yesterday to try to swing the momentum back in the company’s favor.

Yelp

Why Yelp is the Digg of local

The other day, I tweeted “I should be able to ban anyone who rates Applebee’s 4* from ever influencing a Yelp result for me.” That sentiment touched a nerve among my followers. Shervin Pishevar of Menlo Ventures coined it ” The Agrawal-Applebee Law”.

Square

12 companies getting local right for small businesses

I’ve spent much of the last year talking about how the sites small businesses rely on to advertise and promote themselves — think Yelp and Groupon — are failing them. In fact, helping small businesses at the local level is extremely challenging for technology companies, for the following reasons:

Shhhh: Betaworks releases new version of anarchist Twitter alternative

One of the most interesting mobile apps to come out of the Occupy Wall Street protests was Vibe, created by Hazem Sayed, which allowed users to send anonymous messages in a tightly controlled distance. Betaworks recently bought the company, and today it is releasing version 1.5, with some new features it will be highlighting at SXSW this month.

Hipster raises $1M for local Q&A

Hipster, a startup which aims to bring question and answers to local communities, has raised $1 million in seed funding from a long list of big-name investors, including Google Ventures.

nSphere snags deals application Peekaboo Mobile

nSphere, a company that aggregates online content, has bought mobile location-based deals company Peekaboo Mobile, it announced today. The company plans on leveraging Peekaboo Mobile’s application to provide local search information to its users.

Check-in site Scvngr tries out special deals for entrepreneurs

Scvngr, a check-in app that asks users to complete activity challenges, recently launched LevelUp, a pilot in the local deals space. Now it’s offering a deal aimed specifically at entrepreneurs and their startups, dubbed “LevelUp Your Startup.”

Survey suggests local businesses checking in to Facebook Places

Facebook Places, the feature that allows users to check in and share their location, may be winning the hearts and dollars of local businesses, according to a MerchantCircle quarterly report of more than 8,000 U.S. local businesses.

Groupon is Google’s $6 billion Facebook hedge

Why is Google willing to spend over $6 billion for Groupon? The local advertising market is massive — yellow pages ads still bring in more revenue than Google’s annual revenue. Local has been an extremely difficult market for online ad solutions to capture. Consider how a yoga studio in Cleveland can advertise. With Google AdWords, the yoga studio can target people searching for the keyword “yoga”, but this is an expensive, nationally bid-up keyword, and not a word the people search every day. Adsense provides a bit more context, and the ad could be placed in websites that talk about yoga, but there aren’t that many people looking at pages like that to click on the ad. Google Maps lets the yoga studio ad coupons to its location, but it has not had much uptake. The incredibly large local ad market has remained primarily elusive to Google, to the point where it considered purchasing Yelp for a large sum even though it did not have that much local ad revenue.