Marketing Biz: Foursquare Search, BloomReach & Message Bus

This week we saw more. More Yahoo changes. More competition in the mobile payments and deals verticals. More funding for BloomReach and Message Bus. More evidence that 140 characters is truly dead. More location analytics services.

Foursquare also made it clear they were a local search engine and the potential bailout of Color by Apple turned me green.

This is … Marketing Biz.

Reinventing local search for everyone

Foursquare Local Search

Head over to and search for ‘pizza’ or a ‘sushi.’ No need to create an account; just go there and type in what you’re looking for.

Foursquare doesn’t just hand you a one-size-fits-all list of suggestions. Even if you’ve never checked in, Explore still can make great recommendations based on a number of signals, like what’s popular in the neighborhood, new places, places that are trending at the moment, where experts go, and what’s popular on that day of the week. If you search for a bar, we don’t just tell you about great bars, but rather the best places you should go tonight.

Foursquare isn’t being very subtle anymore are they? They want to be the local search destination putting it directly into competition with Yelp and Google. Can the outside in approach (mobile to desktop) work for Foursquare? I don’t know but I’m excited to find out.

Payments Platform Braintree Raises $35M 

For Braintree, the new funding is going to help the company take on giants in the digital payments industry like PayPal. “We think we can build the next PayPal,” says Braintree’s CEO, Bill Ready. “The payments game will be won or lost in next few years, and we need the resources to push the company forward aggressively,” he explained in an interview.

The mobile payments vertical gets hotter by the week. PayPal, Square and Google Wallet are all big contenders here but anyone with deep connections in geolocation (Foursquare) and small business (Groupon) are also potential competitors or allies. Marketers should expect favorable business development deals as competition gets fierce.

BloomReach nets $25M to turn big data into marketing gold

BloomReach, which offers a big data parsing service that etailers can use to juice their web sites, netted $25 million in new funding which it will use to boost both sales and marketing and research and development efforts.

Creating pages to meet gaps in a site’s keyword universe doesn’t feel like a very stable business. There have been other services that have done something similar that have been marginalized by Google algorithm updates. Furthermore, smart retailers will soon tap into big data as a service and perform this analysis themselves. To flourish, I think BloomReach will have to make this a lower-margin product that targets long-tail retailers.

Troubled media sharing startup Color Labs said to be acquired by Apple

As to why they’d want Color Labs? We would look to Color’s patents, which may include one for a file format that they were working on to record HD video. Color said that it had six patents pending at the time of its funding, including its ‘elastic’ social graph and patents related to GPS location and battery saving. iOS developer Daniel Jalkut uncovered several patent applications that Color has filed for in the last couple of months that have names like “sharing content among a group of devices” and “user device group formation”.

This feels wrong in so many ways. Color Labs was a train wreck and for it to be rescued to help build a defensible patent portfolio makes me grab for the Pepto-Bismol.

EBay tests deals on services, takes on Grouponnew ebay logo

Called eBay Lifestyle Deals, the offers are being run in a limited number of urban areas, including the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., according to the company.

Recent deals included $12 for a one-hour dog-walking service worth $25; $50 for a month of Yoga classes worth $110; and $180 for six private gym sessions worth $360.

I know some people are thinking this is confirmation that Groupon really is on to something with deals. I tend to think eBay is just behind the times and playing catchup as best they can.

Twitter acquires team behind visual app creation tool Cabana

In a blog post on its website, the Cabana team says that “We built Cabana because we are passionate about empowering people to develop interactive content in new and innovative ways,” adding, “that same passion for innovation and the democratization of content creation is also shared by the amazing team at Twitter.”

I can’t say that I used or even understand what Cabana does exactly. Yet, the fact that Twitter is purchasing a company that develops interactive content continues to tell the ‘death of 140 characters’ story.

Yahoo Chief Revenue Officer Michael Barrett to Exit

Yahoo Chief Revenue Officer Michael Barrett is on his way out at Yahoo, according to a person familiar with the situation. Mr. Barrett is in the process of negotiating his exit, this person said.

The news comes a day after Yahoo announced the hiring of Googler Henrique de Castro as its new chief operating officer.

Marissa isn’t wasting much time populating the new Yahoo with Googlers. The question is how many will she bring over, how quickly and is it enough to change the toxic culture that’s been in place for years?

Yahoo to close Korean operations by end of 2012

Yahoo’s latest cost-cutting measure is a big one – the company will shut down its operations in South Korea by the end of the year. In an internal memo sent late Thursday night (Pacific time), Rose Tsou, Yahoo’s senior vice-president for Asia Pacific, announced the closure in the face of “serious and growing challenges.”

This makes a lot of sense and is just one more indication of how Marissa is eliminating distractions from Yahoo’s roadmap.

Placed Panels Bring Online and Offline Worlds Together

Placed Panels

Merchants gain insight into where their customers go and whether they actually visit the merchant’s locations, what competitive businesses are visited and what other real-world brand or merchant affinities their customers have.

Location analytics are quite simply one of the most powerful new sources of information a marketer can get their hands on. Tracking user behavior offline and matching it with your online campaigns could dramatically change the multi-channel landscape.

Message Bus announces $11M in funding to accelerate hiring and product roadmap

Current email sending practices are similar to CB radio – where the sender blasts a message out and hopes someone receiving the message on the other end answers. CB radio is old school technology and has largely been replaced by mobile phones – a system where recipients decide whether and how to have a conversation.

Message Bus is replacing the old school approach where senders simply hope a message was received to a data driven approach where we actively manage the relationship between senders and recipients. With email, your reputation is only as good as the last message you have sent, and in the highly competitive and often abusive/adversarial relationship between senders and recipients, it is very easy to make mistakes where you are suddenly viewed as a bad sender.

If I’m getting the gist of this, Message Bus is out to make email more reliable. That’s a big deal in the still incredibly-vital-yet-unsexy area of email marketing.

National Kidney Foundation Awarded SEO Grant From The Conductor Foundation

“SEO is a great way to build cause awareness, educate the public and reach funding goals at an accelerated rate,” said Tim Davis, Chief Advancement Officer at the National Kidney Foundation. “We are delighted to have been awarded the Conductor SEO Grant and we look forward to working closely with The Conductor Foundation and utilizing their resources to reach our search goals.”

I’ll be honest, this made it into the column in part because of my personal interest. My daughter only has one kidney. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see non-profits understand the value of SEO and that Conductor is helping educating this sector through their foundation grants.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Marketing Biz


About The Author: is Owner of Blind Five Year Old, a San Francisco Internet Marketing firm specializing in search. An experienced marketing executive with a successful track record spanning 20 years, AJ combines a deep understanding of search marketing with a passion for product strategy and iterative product development, fusing design and user experience with quantitative analysis.


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