[News] Facebook Launches in-App Ad Network

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Advertising News] Facebook Launches in-App Ad Network

News Source: AdAge

After extensive testing, Facebook officially launched its in-app mobile ad network featuring robust targeting options.

The updates will allow advertisers to target Facebook users within other mobile apps using their interests, likes, and demographics information. Publishers currently in Facebook’s audience network include The Huffington Post, e-retailer Vinted, and mobile app Cut the Rope.

Key Takeaway: Facebook has been focused on mobile for awhile now, and this ad network expansion is a natural outgrowth of that strategy. For businesses, in-app ads may prove to be worth the investment—not only do they provide an opportunity to capitalize on Facebook’s rich user data, but they also have a wider network of potential touch points with consumers across various mobile properties.

[Retail News] Shoppers Willing to Sacrifice Privacy for Deals

News Source: Forbes

A new study released by eDigitalResearch this week revealed some surprising insights about mobile consumers and privacy. Of the 1300 smartphone users surveyed, 33% indicated that personalized in-store messages from a retailer would have a positive influence on their decision to make a purchase.

In-store messaging systems such as iBeacon allow stores to beam messages to shoppers in the vicinity using Bluetooth technology.

Additionally, 78% of respondents willing to receive personalized messages would feel okay with a retailer using their purchase information to create more relevant messages for them in the future.

Key Takeaway: Consumers are still protective of their privacy when it comes to web and mobile usage, but it appears that the promise of a more customized, engaging shopping experience is worth the exchange of personal data for many people. As consumers become more familiar with the benefits of allowing businesses to access their data, they may start to warm to the idea of in-store offers and other real-time marketing strategies. 

[Retail News] Square Introduces “Pickup” for Online Purchases

News Source: Engadget

Small business credit card processing service Square branched out this week with Pickup, a new service that enables customers to buy items online and pick them up in store at a pre-scheduled time.

Pickup provides small businesses with an affordable online marketplace to sell their goods: The service is available with no setup fees and a per-purchase fee of 2.75% until July 1st.

Key Takeaway: As eCommerce proves successful for retailers of all sizes, Square’s move into online ordering comes as no surprise. But will small businesses profit from this service? For anyone selling physical goods, Pickup seems like a great way to give consumers flexibility when it comes to purchasing. However, this system also removes the consumer from the usual in-person purchase flow where staff members can have more of an impact on recommendations and selections. The success of the product will hinge on its ability to not just let consumers purchase in advance, but to also discover additional items of interest as they shop online.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know! 

2013 in Review: Small Business News

2013 saw many changes on the small business front, and 2014 is poised for even more rapid change. Here’s a look back at some of the major news from the past year covered on the SinglePlatform blog.

Restaurant Tech News

In 2013, restaurant technology advanced most notably on the payment processing and reservation/POS fronts. Industry front-runners such as Square and OpenTable made product improvements, and big dog Apple entered the arena with a reservation system patent request. It’ll be interesting to see whether specialized companies remain on top in 2014, or if giants such as Apple change the game in the coming months.

Social Media News

For seasoned social media networks, the news in 2013 centered around improvements and new features. Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest all introduced new functionality and updates. Last year also confirmed that the SoLoMo (social local mobile) movement is still going strong as neighborhood network Nextdoor received another major round of funding.

Retail News

As the economy began to bounce back in 2013, retail sectors saw more activity. In terms of technology, Apple led the way with highly targeted in-store recommendations; several other companies also introduced location-based recommendations in a variety of formats.

Advertising News

Social reigned supreme in terms of new advertising formats in 2014. Foursquare, Google, and Twitter all launched new ad types, giving users the ability to better target users and provide content in a more engaging format than traditional banner ads.

Local Search News

There was much more local search news in 2013 than was covered on this blog, but two big highlights made our list: Google’s new customer data map feature, and the launch of start-up Openbay.

  • Google Introduces Maps Engine Pro to Help Small Businesses Visualize Customer Data
  • Meet Openbay, the New OpenTable for Auto Repairs

Franchise Sector News

In 2013, franchises saw greater job growth than the overall private sector, and they’re projected to see even more success in 2014 as consumers’ economic confidence returns.

[News] Apple Launches iBeacon Technology

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Retail News] Apple Launches iBeacon Tech to Target in-Store Shoppers

News Source: Digital Trends

Shoppers in every U.S. Apple store will now receive informational messages on their iDevices via iBeacon, Apple’s new location-based technology. iBeacon can be used to send product details, reminders, or event invites depending on a consumer’s location in the store.

Some messages are general to the store itself; others are specific to a particular product aisle, wall, or demo table.

Macy’s has also begun to pilot iBeacon technology in its New York and San Francisco stores to present discounts, recommendations, and other information to its shoppers.

Key Takeaway: This type of location-based targeting may become the future of in-store shopping. iBeacon and other similar technologies will provide businesses with the ability to give additional guidance and information as shoppers browse, thereby improving engagement and conversions.

[Payments News] Square Releases Thinner, More Accurate Card Reader

News Source: Entrepreneur

This week, Square released a new version of its credit card reader that’s more accurate and twice as thin as the previous version.

The updated device also comes with an audio jack that makes it compatible with more mobile devices.

New users who sign up for a Square account will automatically get the new reader; it will be available for purchase in-store sometime next year.

Key Takeaway: Mobile credit card reader companies are making strides to provide a better user experience for small businesses, offering enhanced functionality and performance for their percentage of earnings. If you aren’t accepting credit cards currently, you may want to look into your options again in 2014.

[Advertising News] New Google+ Ads Won’t Run on Google+

News Source: Mashable

On Monday, Google announced a new type of display ad called +Post ads. These ads are based on Google+ posts, but will not run on Google+ itself; rather, the ads will run in Google’s extensive display network of over 2 million sites. Social annotations such as Comments and +1s will be displayed as part of the ad.

+Post ads can be based on any type of Public Post a business creates, including photo, video, or even Hangout Posts. This type of format goes head to head with Facebook and Twitter’s Sponsored Post ads.

A handful of businesses, include Toyota and Ritz, are beta testing the format right now; all businesses will have access starting in January.

Key Takeaway: Businesses advertising on Google now have an additional format to try. If you have an active Google+ Page and are running Google ad campaigns for your business, you may want to consider throwing this new social format into the mix.

[News] Twitter Introduces Custom Timelines

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Social Media News] Twitter Introduces Custom Timelines

News Source: SmallBusiness.com

On Tuesday, Twitter announced a new feature called Custom Timelines. This feature allows users to organize and display tweets around a specific topic or theme.

Custom Timelines function much the same way as Pinterest boards do. Each timeline has a name, description, and public URL that can be shared and viewed by anyone. Users add relevant and interesting Tweets to their Custom Timelines, which other people can follow.

Currently, Custom Timelines is a feature only available through TweetDeck.

Key Takeaway: Custom Timelines gives Twitter users a more meaningful way to view and share content. Make sure your business’s Twitter account is active and sharing valuable information so that users will share your Tweets using this new Custom Timelines feature.

[Retail News] TripAdvisor Survey Reveals Uptick in Thanksgiving Travel and Spending

News Source: The Wall Street Journal

TripAdvisor announced the results of their annual Thanksgiving survey earlier this week. The results indicated an uptick in both holiday travel and spending:

  • 39% of respondents plan to travel for Thanksgiving (up 7% from last year)
  • 46% of respondents plan to spend more on Thanksgiving travel this year
  • 45% of respondents plan to shop on Black Friday (up 12% from 2012 numbers)
  • 57% of respondents plan to use a mobile device during their trip, with 40% of mobile users researching restaurants

Key Takeaway: This Thanksgiving will be a busy time for retailers, restaurants, and hotels. In the next couple of weeks, take time to prepare for the increased patronage by training seasonal staff, extending store hours, increasing inventory—whatever your business needs to do in order to get the most out of the holiday season.

[Economic News] Franchise Sector Powers 20% of Total Private Sector Job Growth in October

News Source: Entrepreneur

This week, ADP released its October National Franchise Report, which outlines key job growth in the franchise sector each month. Some highlights from the latest report include:

  • The franchise sector accounted for more than 20% of the 130,000 private-sector jobs created in October
  • 25,060 jobs were added to the franchise sector last month
  • Restaurants led the way with 11,520 jobs, followed by Auto Parts & Dealers, Hospitality, and Business Services

Key Takeaway: The franchise sector has continued to grow faster than the overall economy in 2013. If you own a franchise and are going on a hiring spree, take the time needed to invest wisely in great staff who will be committed to your business and your customers.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know! 

5 Facts About Small Business Saturday

As a small business owner, you probably already know that Small Business Saturday is the local-merchant equivalent of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 30.
In honor of the upcoming holiday, we’d like to share 5 interesting facts about Small Business Saturday that you may not know:

Fact 1: AmEx Launched Small Business Saturday in 2010

American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 to help independent merchants get more exposure during the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. Their initial marketing campaign included national radio, TV, and social media ads.

Fact 2: Social Media Loves #smallbizsat

Since its launch last year, Facebook’s Small Business Saturday Page has received over 3.2 million Likes. In 2012, Twitter offered $1 million in free ads for small businesses during the holidays. And hashtag #smallbizsat was used on Small Business Saturday over 200,000 times last year. That’s a pretty impressive showing for the new holiday on the block.

Fact 3: Over 100 Million People Shopped Small in 2012

After the first year, many people were skeptical about whether Small Business Saturday would become a permanent fixture. Participation by both merchants and consumers in subsequent years has proven these skeptics wrong. Over 500,000 merchants participated in 2012, attracting over 100 million consumers.

Fact 4: Half of Small Businesses Ran SBS Marketing Campaigns in 2012

According to NFIB’s Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, 47% of independent merchants used Small Business Saturday as a way to draw in new business in 2012. Of these merchants, 67% offered special deals for customers who shopped on Small Business Saturday.

Fact 5: Small Business Saturday Generated $5.5 Billion in 2012

Spending surpassed expectations last year as both consumer awareness and turnout increased, generating $5.5 billion in revenue for participating businesses.

Gearing up for 2013

Are you ready for Small Business Saturday 2013? Don’t forget to download your custom banners, signage, logos, and more from AmEx, and make sure to spread the word beforehand to current and potential consumers.

We wish you all the best this year, and hope to see you when we shop local over the Thanksgiving holiday!

[News] Marketer, Consumer Instagram Usage Grows

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Social Media News] Instagram Usage Grows Among Marketers and Restaurant Customers

News Sources: Inside Facebook, Nation’s Restaurant News

This week was full of Instagram news. A new report from SimplyMeasured indicated that 71% of the large brands worldwide now have an Instagram account, and 65% of brands have active accounts (up 23% from Q3 of 2012).

Over half of marketers on Instagram are posting new content at least once a week, and brand engagement has grown 350% year over year.

On the consumer front, monitoring platform MomentFeed tracked a 2.8% increase in Instagram usage for customers of 65 major food brands. More than 500,000 photos were tagged to restaurant locations in Q3; Starbucks topped the charts with 127,000 tagged photos.

Key Takeaway: If your business already has an Instagram account, the good news is that consumers are now engaging with brand photos more than ever before. If you don’t have an account, it’s a great time to jump in and try it out—especially if your business is visually-oriented.

[Restaurant Industry News] Consumers Plan to Dine out Less in 2014

News Source: Nation’s Restaurant News

The latest North American Restaurant Consumer Sentiment Review revealed a decline in consumer dining during 2013, a trend that is projected to continue into 2014.

For the first time, the top reason survey respondents gave for planning to dine out less in next 12 months was due to health concerns. This was followed closely by financial constraints.

The survey also found that 64% of respondents feel that healthy menu options are an important factor in choosing where to dine.

Key Takeaway: If you own a restaurant, bakery, or cafe, you may want to review your menu to make sure you have plenty of options for health-conscious diners. And don’t be shy about promoting these dishes online so that customers find out about them. 

[Holiday Retail Trends] Holiday Shoppers Turning to Smartphones

News Source: eMarketer

A new study from Deloitte revealed that almost 70% of consumers plan to use their smartphones more often his holiday season, with 56% looking for store locations, 54% researching prices, 47% looking up product information, and 45% browsing products online.

Social media will also play a bigger role in holiday shopping, with 45% of survey participants indicating that they plan to consult a social network when considering purchases.

eMarketer estimates that holiday eCommerce spending will reach over $61 billion this year, up 15% from 2013.

Key Takeaway: Being present and standing out on mobile will play a key role in your business’s success this holiday season. Make sure your website and local listings are easy to find and view on mobile devices—SinglePlatform can help!

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know!