Chris Copeland, CEO of GroupM Search, has been a leader in the development of search as a tool for marketers for more than a decade. Under his stewardship GroupM, a division of WPP, recently launched GMS Local, which uses a combination of paid, earned and owned media offerings to assist national advertisers in participating in local conversations and tailoring responses to specific markets. He spoke to Digiday about why Foursquare has a ways to go before appealing to most national brands the overheated deals space, and the prospects for national brands to go local.
Is there a daily deals bubble? Is it about to burst?
I do believe the current state of the U.S. economy, and the appeal of these offerings to consumers, is masking a few flaws in the daily deals model. We have found that national brands in the deal space are blanketing the entire country regardless of store and city-specific findings. When brands understand their true competition and opportunity at a market level, it is then that they will be able to execute on more intelligent deals models for their benefit and that of their customers. Additionally, the growing number of deal sites is making the selection, management and measurement process more complex than many brands want to deal with, and, to date, their outside options for support have been limited. If the larger players do not resolve this and we continue to see exponential growth in deal outlets, we could find ourselves in a real bubble situation.
What’s the opportunity for location services like Foursquare to attract real brand dollars? Do they have enough scale?
For location services to be truly successful, scale is required (which is still a work in progress) as well as the ability for brands to move nimbly. There is a real advantage to being a small business engaging with Foursquare right now. National deals are attention grabbers, but when you walk in a store and see a better deal than what is available via the national Foursquare offer, you quickly realize how far the space has to go. I believe there is something powerful here, but I am not convinced that when it is fully realized, it will resemble anything like what the pioneers of the space brought forward.
What is the real value of social media to brand building? And how do brands move beyond collecting “likes?”
The key to unlocking social for brand building is moving from collecting “likes” to activating those followers to help grow your base. Brands have an obligation to engage socially, to converse and extend the relationship with existing customers. Then, once they have gained permission through success in that area, they can enable the same people who “liked” them to share the message as brand evangelists. However, it takes brand commitment, authenticity and the granting of permission from consumers to fulfill the promise of social. If brands truly seek something close to a one-to-one relationship with customers, they have to go to the place where customers, are and that is always a local destination. Brands may offer national consistency to customers, but that is typically a lesser factor than the ability to deliver day in and day out and be a part of a local existence for a customer.
What’s the biggest untapped area of local?
From our perspective, the opportunity for national brands to engage with communities of consumers and fans at a local level is a virtually untapped area. Brands have tried to use paid local media to mask that they are having the same or very similar conversations in every town. Our view is that an opportunity exists for authenticity and credibility by engaging consumers via earned and owned media in a smarter way.
What is the role of mobile in local search? How does it differ from desktop search?
Mobile plays a big part in local search with 34% of all mobile users finding local content via their devices and 30 percent-plus year over year growth rates, per ComScore research. Desktop search is a process while mobile search is an outcome. As such, mobile has taken a very strong position in the local strategy for brands today. There are very different behavior patterns and engagement times between desktop and mobile. Brands cannot have the same experience or path to engagement on the two mediums or they will alienate users, one way or the other. If a brand wants to connect locally, it must have a strategy that treats a consumer’s mobile engagement differently from the desktop.