Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fragmentation of Directories on Handhelds...How Many Apps Does it Take?

I’ve been delving into local search applications that have been specifically designed for iPhones and have been struck not only by the sleek designs of the apps but also by the micro view they offer on how the directory business in general has been unfolding. Directories have moved from traditional rigid category-based search experiences to sleeker search sites and have recently moved heavily into vertical directories incorporating user generated content and other social media.

On the traditional side of the spectrum are tools that act as pocket yellow pages. AT&T is a good example of this type of application.

Launched by Avantar, a sister company to Yellow Pages Directory, the app has a number of features including:

• Auto location detection
• Map & Directions
• One tap location modifier
• A contacts area to “bookmark” businesses
• Tap to call

Firmly rooted in the tradition of the directory user experience, the consumer is still faced with fields to fill. Granted, the bolder tap opportunities make the experience a bit easier but for some reason it still feels like the search experience of old.

Remember the first time you held an iPod? Do you recall the slight confusion surrounding the wheel? How long did it take before you realized “wow, this is a better way”? Well, the newer generation of applications is all about this shift in navigation.

One example of this can be seen with the Where To application. Where To is owned by German based FutureTap and while it is based on the same data exchange as any other directory, the app’s unique proposition is a sleeker, more intuitive user experience. It's currently powered by Google Maps but is moving towards enhanced listing data. So the difference between this offering and that of the traditional yellow pages offering is this:

• Find whatever you want without any typing

Finally, I’ve been watching the vertical directory frenzy manifest itself at the app mall. Applications are popping up that specialize in finding anything from Doctors to Burger Kings. Admittedly, I’ve asked myself (more than twice) if these applications have any future. Do consumers want multiple applications on their handhelds to find products and services that were once contained in one access point?

One vertical that seems to be experiencing significant lift here is the travel/restaurant business. Free apps like UrbanSpoon, Local Picks and Yelp are developing some attention. Even the pricey ($29.99) Zagat app seems to be gaining some users.

In the local mobile landscape the obvious user behavior will always win and the categories of growth will undoubtedly reflect these behaviors. I’m not saying that vertical apps don’t have a place in app land but doesn’t it make more sense for consumers to use one app that streams specialized data from the verticals into one access point?

To finish the analogy between traditional yellow pages and their evolved apps, independent publishers started producing competing books and delivering them to consumers. In some areas across North America, consumers have to chose between more than two yellow pages books!

When surfing randomly through reviews of applications (all applications including games and gadgets), the reoccurring theme on a negative review is "don't waste the space...". I think the app mall is starting to fill up with fragments of utility that users may find interesting for one fleeting search...

The Evolution of Widegtry…Planet of the Apps…

In 2007, I wrote about widgets. Netvibes, a company based out of France had caught my attention as they were on the front lines of creating miniature, portable content distribution channels. My attention (and I know I’m not alone), is now drawn more closely to the "widgetization" of content to iphones and other handheld devices.

Monetizing widgets on the web has been associated with portals and sponsorships around the content. Today, there’s a crossroad on how to monetize widgets (apps) on handhelds.

In researching the topic I’ve found that there has been a lot of discussion in the application communities around valuating the route of advertising supported applications vs. subscription (fee based) models.

Interestingly, some of the early data is showing that the biggest issue is one of usage frequency for the applications. The ad-supported models require critical mass to become a viable marketing channel. Some data that I’ve seen shows sharp drop off rates after 1 or 2 uses. I’m assuming that this is for a number of reasons but I think the top one might be that the applications to date have been largely marketed (through word of mouth) as novelty items. Consumers download the applications, use them once or twice and then get bored or forget they have them. This would support the fee-based model we see today from the iTunes store.

Killer applications that warrant sponsorship have yet to arise out of the frenzy. I think that this is because we haven’t even scratched the surface of the content that is available to be widgetized.

There are a number of ways that content providers can get into the game and use the app ecosystem. It’s a fluid environment where the users are fickle and drop applications every day for newer, better ones. This may lead to network solutions that provide multiple channels (apps) on a consistent basis to guarantee distribution.

I knew that there was a connection between Netvibes’ model and the business of applications but it’s been hard to articulate. Maybe I just see iTunes as a major content distribution channel that somehow convinced users to pay for what was once free on sites like Netvibes. These applications are after all, a collection of widgets – no?

With the imminent launch of the RIM application store and the many others that are sure to follow, the need for content providers to re-think their distribution strategies is critical. Thinking out loud…”Creating branded widgets may not be the best use of time and resources”.

It’s early days and it’s already fascinating to visualize the new generation of distribution brokerage.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Funnel Bidding...Adnetik's Approach to Media Metrics & Pricing

I’ve been reflecting on a recent metrics presentation I saw at the IAB Mixx Canada Conference in March. I had a great discussion with Nathan Woodman, Global Managing Director of Adnetik, a Havas Digital company that is attempting to change the way we valuate online media.

I was curious after hearing his ultra logical methodology, why it’s so difficult to adopt change despite consensus that our current methodologies for media evaluation, pricing and inventory are archaic.

Nathan’s presentation outlined the short history of online media models. He walked through the initial bridge from traditional media (CPM) and eventually got to the performance-based models we are seeing now. I think the quantum leap was in jumping from a model that pays for a placement to one that pays for an individual that is in a specific consumer mind-set.

As marketers we must look to the purchase funnel to gain a deep understanding of the distance between awareness and purchase. Each business may have its own particular staging criteria for their respective sales cycle and Woodman was talking about applying a value associated to each of these stages so that the advertiser could bid accordingly.

Google search tells the automotive industry that the value of the “new car” keyword is ridiculously high due to competitive market bids but those dealers or manufacturers that have employed cross platform/media analytics know that they may be much wiser to invest in 3 exposures of the cherry red mini on a vertical site because that exposure is trending to be an indicator of further depth (yes, further than search) down the purchase funnel. All things measured (and bought) equally, the marketer should be able to reallocate funds to bid higher on the display ads.

Deep breath…”So as a marketer, I can start to allocate funds to various stages of the purchase funnel based on my internal intelligence of the likelihood of the prospects changing to customers”…Exhale.. Is that so complicated?

It has the flavour of behavioral targeting yes, but this is not invading privacy as much as it is employing common sense and technology that is available here and now to start buying according to real value. Analytics have become much broader in scope. Optimization is not just about pumping funds into keywords that are working or into display ads that are getting clicked on.

The logic is beautifully simple but the horror sets in when you try to explain the underpinnings of the system and how the values are calculated etc. I guess the answer to the original question is that change is difficult when it’s not easily explained. The more equations you show to prove validity, the more you lose the audience.

My opinion of this model is that it is fair and that it works in a network environment that can provide this volume of inventory. I think it will take a long time for publishers to jump on the band wagon unless there are some case studies produced that show equal or greater earnings potential to the respective properties. It’s interesting to think that inventory that was previously thought of as second tier, could once again be deemed premium (in a micro-transaction kind of way).

It’s all so deliciously complex. Nathan is on to something but I’m not sure the apple hit as many heads as it ought to yet…

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monetizing Video Content on the Social Grid...Overlay.TV

I had an opportunity to catch up with Ben Watson, VP of Marketing for Ottawa based, Overlay.TV to get an update on the company’s development and direction.

I wrote a piece about the company’s launch about a year ago and from my discussion with Ben today, it was clear that the company was not only maintaining its course by allowing users to create hot spots on their videos and photos (a scalable affiliate network model), but that it was also starting to see a greater demand from developers to create rich media experiences using the technology.

With over 750 affiliate partnerships, the company provides its users with thousands of products to promote within their content. As the adoption rises and the product skews increase, Overlay.TV continues to gain valuable insight into best practices for video monetization. "We're starting to get a clear picture of what is working and what is not...some content creators generate click through rates at 6% and engagement rates in the 16% range and some fall at the very low end of the spectrum" said Watson.

There has been a lot of product development going on an Overlay.TV over the past year. Most recently, Overlay.TV announced that it would open its API to software developers so that they could build engaging video experiences. The tools offered include applications, widgets and other customized solutions to enhance the interactive features of online video. Overlay.TV’s new Labs website features the SDK download, registration for a developer key, sample projects and more.

Following are some product offerings that are starting to make waves for the company:

Product Endorsement Videos - As an example, Overlay.TV has partnered with famous vlogger and social media expert iJustine to produce various product endorsement videos, with a tongue-in-cheek tone, where creators have the power to literally put products in iJustine’s hand.

Karaoke - Kids can use this application as they do on Kidz Bop to sing along to their favorite songs using lyrics Overlayed in the music video and their sing along appears right inside the video itself.

In Game Video - One thing that is currently missing from in-game videos like World of Warcraft is player stats, and serious gamers always check out stats. This widget combines data and video so gamer stats are integrated with the video.

iXLd – A tool for creating free band websites which includes integration with XLSuite to provide a fan club-building platform along with the video benefits of Overlay.TV’s technology. Bands have five free design options to choose from.

Ben talked about a case study that really brought the power of these tools to life. Disney implemented a sing along feature to their Jonas Brothers site allowing fans of all ages to record their voices into the sound tracks and submit their masterpieces to be posted on the Jonas Brothers’ wall of fame.

What I found fascinating is the level of engagement that Ben described:
  • 54% of the users that visited the Jonas Brothers site hit record and created content.
  • 10% of those users went on to create two or more recording after the first one. Fans started to invite their friends and use the tool as a new type of video game.
  • 8% of the users ended up submitting content to the Jonas Brothers site in hopes that it would be posted.
From a media efficiency standpoint, Disney’s investment was minimal as the content was re-purposed footage from a previous recording.

I think this case study is somewhat the groundbreaking because to date, advertisers have largely viewed video as a media that could be distributed online. Slap it on to YouTube, promote it through search and hope it grows wings. The Disney application of Overlay.TV tools changes the distribution content to an interactive one. The social aspect is brilliant because user generated content will significantly increase the chances that wings will grow once it hits the social grid.

(Check out this fresh British ComScore release showing Facebook's growth as a video content property from 2008 - 2009 140%!)

Ben was in Austin at the SXSW show as we were having our chat and expressed that bands were showing a keen interest in the Overlay.TV platform. It occurred to me that bands also need a form of CRM and this is a great example of the tools that might be made available to “pwomote band awareness” ;)

This and a number of other social media examples are starting to create an urgency for new media valuation models. There is no question that agencies and publishers are adapting and delivering against the possibilities offered through social media, but the value of delivery is not in line with what the advertisers are paying. We're starting to reach the point where these initiatives can no longer be sold as "tests".

More on this over the next few days...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New York Daily News pushes the Needle...Creating a Social SMB Platform

An interesting press release hit my inbox today announcing that the largest and most widely read newspaper in the New York Metropolitan market, New York Daily News will be launching a Small Business Social Network.

“Upon launching, the site will provide readers with instant access to a network and connect with 500,000 small businesses, download sales leads and information about government grants, and gain access to free and valuable business tools”.

Toronto based, Sales Spider was selected as the partner to build (customize their solution) the New York Daily News’ site. Sales Spider was behind the launch of G&T’s social network (also targeted to small business). G&T's network was designed to help the company diversify into the services category.

At last year's Warrillow conference I really got the sense that this approach was starting to bubble. The solutions provider booths were very busy. I'm wondering now about duplication thresholds in the B2B resource category. Will this be a killer resource? How will business owners make the leap from reading as a consumer to harnessing as a small business owner?

Time will tell if this will open a real revenue stream for the newspaper. Until then, I am applauding New York Daily News for making a move. I'm also proud that they've chosen a Canadian company to build out this network.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Doritos Social Media Case Study - Positive "Brand Hi-Jacking"

Continuing with my notes on last week's IAB Canada’s MIXX Canada Conference which attracted 550 online media marketers here in Toronto, I was so impressed by the magic of a brand "hi-jacking" case study that was presented that I had to share it here.

Fernando Barbella, Interactive Creative Director from BBDO Argentina gave a great presentation on a social media case study for the PepsiCo. brand Doritos. His presentation showed how the brand’s message resonated so completely with its target that it created its own movement.

The Strategy

After 2 years in the Argentinean market, Doritos had built “street cred” with young people - the brand had already been accepted. By 2008, BBDO developed a strategy that would stimulate interactivity and “advocate a truth and a necessity for the target audience”. According to Barbella’s team research, at that young millennial age, men and women are preoccupied with love, and relationships. Doritos’ research revealed a couple of key barriers to individuals connecting with one another:

– At the pubs and discos only techno/electronic music is played (it’s too loud and couples dance separately.
– Flirting and approaching somebody has become a bit difficult at a house party. Shyness and fear of ridicule play an important role.

So, in light of these challenges, Doritos took on the defense of the target audience with a proposal for solving the dilemma. The crusade was entitled “Bring Slow Dancing Back”.

The campaign launched with 5 TV ads. All of them focused on specific benefits of slow dancing. All of them were funny.

Following is a taste of one of the commercials:

Once the crusade was out via TV, they began to expand to other media: billboards, radio, guerrilla and actions at discos, etc. Consistent with the TV ads, each piece told of one benefit of slow dancing.

The Goal

The purpose of the campaign was to gather signatures at (bring back slow dancing) which is now directed to a MySpace page. The petition effort was to lobby the discos in these markets and show the legitimacy of the cause.

The “Hi-Jacking” and Result

Three weeks after the campaign launched, a movement started on the Internet. Two friends decided to throw a party (mob) to celebrate the return of slow dancing.

This is where we would start to classify the project as a “Brand Hi-Jacking”. The idea had been seeded and the target nurtured and grew it to something much larger.

The idea was simply to get gather around the biggest disco ball in Buenos Aires (the Planetarium) to slow dance. Consumers themselves were in charge of the organization and music. News of the event spread through e-mail, Facebook, Hi5, MySpace, Sonico, Twitter, Muxtape, Mixaloo, blogs, messenger, SMS, etc.

The result confirmed that the crusade launched by Doritos was something that people wanted; it was latent in the target audience. On Thursday, March 13, 4000+ people got together to slow dance at the Planetarium, and did so for an hour.

Here are the results:

Social Media Generated:
  • 33 Facebook Groups
  • 20,000 members
  • 240 blogs
  • 200,000 views on YouTube
  • Top TV and radio channels attended the event and reported on prime time news, which generated news coverage in the major national newspapers the day after the event.
$600,000 US in media impact from the “Hi-Jacking”.

Actual Goal Achieved:

Respecting the client's wishes, I've removed the actual sales lift numbers from this post. Suffice to say, the numbers were quite positive across all categories. There were surprising results in increased awareness top of mind positioning.

This crusade was clearly a success. The 2009 crusade is “Make it to the second date”...(by following Doritos advice).

As a testament to the power of subtlety in brand marketing, here’s my favourite line out of the presentation:

“Doritos could have done an advertising campaign to sell their product. Instead, they are wasting money to help me. That´s cool.” Rulo (25), Buenos Aires

It was truly a pleasure to discuss this with Fernando after the event. There are some fascinating things going on in South America, particularly in the Social Media space. I’ll be looking out for similar results generated by Fernando and the innovative team at BBDO Argentina.

For Those About to Rock…Saluting

I recently checked in with Barnaby Marshall to talk about an exciting venture he’s been working on called Barnaby is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the freshly launched search vertical that caters to true music fans. The idea of building a vertical search site is part of a growing trend in the online industry. Frustrated searchers are growing tired of the ambiguity and hit or miss content found on networks like YouTube and are turning to boutique engines that provide what I like to call a “mecca factor”.

Barnaby has been an avid music fan for as long as he can remember. For years he scoured indie music shops and record conventions for rare videos, but everything changed when YouTube came along four years ago. Suddenly this somewhat obscure passion became a huge mainstream social pastime, as massive amounts of uncirculated material began flooding the internet. The chaos and disorganization of the early stages of Web 2.0, motivated Barnaby to tame the performance video portion of YouTube by building RockPeaks.

Snapping up the title of “world’s largest database of live rock and roll video”, has taken full advantage of the explosion of performance video material circulating the web. In organizing the content and tagging it in such a way that users can quickly access specific content, the site truly fulfills a deepening consumer demand for higher levels of sophistication in search.

The site has launched with 5,000 clips ready to be reviewed, commented on and shared by rock fans across the globe. Almost 3,000 of those clips have live, active streams. Eventually the site will evolve into a community that will provide rich information on the content that has until now, been floating around with little to no context.

Much like Google’s mission statement (to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful),’s raison d’ĂȘtre is to tame the unruly world of video sharing. Keeping it simple, does not allow members to upload their own videos. This is one factor allowing the business to run lean.

Among the site’s features is a clip tracker that finds content that has been pulled from other sharing sites and provides its users with a petition mechanism to lobby for the authorized release of overlooked material.

Barnaby explained that part of the frustration with YouTube is that things get pulled all the time. Often they will pop up again later, but without all the original comments, number of views, rankings etc. This is incredibly valuable data. From an quantitative perspective, we can divide the number of days a clip has been posted by the number of views it has received to get a sense of what's hot on YouTube and from a qualitative standpoint, the user generated content includes true music fans’ commentary and in some cases, valuable data on the who/what/where of a clip, as well as opinions/critiique)

Barnaby describes the founders’ motivation behind as “…preserving history and celebrating those fleeting but wonderful moments where musical magic is made and sharing them with others, perpetually”.

The RockPeaks business model has three components:

  • They’ve secured a deal with one of Canada’s largest advertising networks to represent the site and they will be using Google AdWords in the short term as the fit for niche contextual messaging certainly exists on the site.
Affiliate Program
  • A standard agreement with Amazon allows the site to generate commissions from their sales. Interestingly, the value of a digital download is 6 points higher than a hard CD purchase.
Content Licensing
  • Content Licensing is a long-term potential revenue stream that will certainly be explored.
Looking forward to watching RockPeaks paint it black...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

2009 IAB Canada's MIXX Canada Conference - Overview & Reflections

It was a stimulating day here in Toronto at the 2009 "IAB Canada's MIXX Canada Conference" which took place downtown at the Carlu. This year's event drew in hundreds of keen online marketers to hear some inspiring presentations on recent developments in online media.

I was fortunate enough to catch up one-on-one with all the presenters and will spend the next couple of days sharing some forward thinking from these individuals and the companies they represent.

Here's an overview of the day's agenda...

Inside the Obama Social Media Marketing Juggernaut

The event kicked off with Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the CFO and Co-Founder at Blue State Digital. Blue State Digital was responsible for Barack Obama’s online social media strategy. Jascha shared incredible insight into tools that were created and gave a good presentation of how tactics were tried, tested and optimized. It was a great overview of the fluidity of the social space and clearly demonstrated how influencers can be motivated to become not only supporters, but active advocates focused on a cause.

Adnetik – Havas Digital’s Trading Network – The Next Sea Change in Digital Marketing

Nathan Woodman, Global Managing Director at Adnetik talked to the crowd about a potential paradigm shift in the way we buy online media. Nathan discussed the value of users vs. the value of placements and how publishers and media strategists could re-evaluate their media buys. Following the behavioral trend, Nathan proposed a compelling argument for creating higher value media campaigns that are based on cost per acquisitions. The devil is in the details though and I’ll delve into this topic on a separate post.

Display Fights Back – ComScore’s Take on the Latency Issue

How refreshing to see a presentation that supported the Latency Issue (one of my all time favourite digital issues). Gian Fulgoni, Executive Chairman and Founder of ComScore delivered a rock solid case to re-consider the cost per click dilemma that has wreaked havoc on publisher inventory levels and has caused a clear devaluation of their media space. Gian’s presentation included the following fabulous diagram depicting the bulk (84%!) of the media exposure value as latent.

How else can we say "step away from the click"???

Slow Dancin’ with Doritos: BBDO’s Stufy in Brand Hijacking – Gone Right

Fernando Barbella, BBDO Argentina’s Interactive Creative Director delivered a fabulous presentation and case study. Fernando took us behind the scenes on a “movement” that was conceptualized for the Doritos brand. The golden nugget of the case study was how PepsiCo. allowed the movement to “high jack” its Doritos brand with great results. The slow Dancin’ case study deserves its own blog post and I’ll be elaborating on some really neat concepts I discussed with Fernando after the show.

Canadian Interactive Futures Roundtable

This was one of the more interesting roundtables I’ve watched here in Canada. The main discussion revolved around the economy. All panelists seemed bullish on the online media expenditures in Canada citing that they are either stable or not decreasing at the same rate or degree as was feared...yet.

Some highlights included:

Maura Hanley, Managing Director of Mediacom, one of the largest media buying agencies in Canada, commented on overall media budgets remaining relatively flat but shifting to online. Later in the discussion Maura talked about the huge amount of unpaid media that is starting to appear on the scene. I didn’t get the sense that she felt threatened by this but I did wonder about how this non-monetized media translates into a media planners margins and how it might effect the ways in which the clients compensate the agencies.

Dawna Henderson, President and CEO at Henderson Bas, pointed out that larger consulting firms (McKinseys of the world) are slowly starting to appear in the online space as high-level strategy competitors. I thought this was interesting as it somehow reflected the level of complexity that is required to develop effective online strategies. Award winning agencies can take pride in the fact that a lot of what they do is rocket science - (ok - that's a bit of a self indulgant stretch).

When the panel was asked about the apparently sparse start-up scene in Canada, Jason Sikora, Vice President, Web at Lavalife Corp. named a couple of great home grown brands like eye-return and as real success stories that have a lot more exposure in the US than they do in Canada. Other panelists commented on the migration of Canadian talent to Silicon Valley as it has historically been easier to secure venture capital there.

I think I pushed a button when I asked about whether the publishers were starting to feel a shift in onus to provide bigger picture strategy to advertisers. I have personally reflected on this question for a while as I hear more and more publishers and ad networks going directly to the clients with offerings.

Dominique-SĂ©bastien Forest, General Manager Digital Media and E-Commerce at Canoe Inc - Quebecor Media very passionately answered this question. According to Domenique-Sebastien, some of the best case studies he’s seen, have come out of publisher-developed strategies. He seemed to feel strongly that agencies have become a little complacent about doing the heavy lifting and that the publishers need to step in more and more these days.

Taking the discussion to a higher level, Tomer Strolight, President at Torstar Digital and Chairman at IAB Canada, commented on how publishers are charged with the task to innovate highly scalable product offerings that operate within the new eco-system (social networks etc.). He talked about the importance of creating repeatable, high value propositions to advertisers and suggested that this strategic challenge may be one of the factors that are driving higher level consulting firms to join the landscape.

In summary, here is my humble list of the day’s take-aways:

1. Metrics have reached a new level of sophistication – we are on the verge of buying on a qualitative level. If publishers and advertisers buy into the new generation of media valuation, it may save a lot of inventory headaches and drive revenue. Think "bidding on the user - not the media space".
2. Agencies are going to start feeling more pressure from new competitors and a growing trend from publisher mandates to innovate and sell directly to the advertisers.
3. The concept of “letting go” is starting to evolve into hi-jacking scenarios like the one presented by Fernando for Doritos. Many case studies are starting to pop-up on this. Skittles' recent flirtation with Twitter is another example of brands attempting to let go (some more successfully than others).
4. Giving influencers tools to advocate your brand appropriately like the Obama campaign is hot.

I'm sure that I'll think of many more as I process the information from the day's event.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spilling the Skittles...Skittles Goes Social

It's always been hard to nail the point behind CPG websites. I think it'll be interesting to see how Skittles' new social site plays out.

They've decided to use Twitter search as their landing page. So now, all Tweets are updated live and are visible to the consumers visiting the site (for what reason, I'm not sure yet).

This must be part of a bigger strategy. I can see some neat promotional strategies arise out of this - contests etc. It's a great bridge to mobile media.

I'd love to see the back-end of this and how the data is being collected (who really owns it) and used. It seems like a great way to develop a CRM database very quickly.

I wonder if it would have been possible to just create a page or section on a bigger website that could have accommodated Twitter as a feature rather than the focal point and only offering on the site.

Either way, the brand has received a lot of publicity through this stunt. This is one of those cases where being first puts you on the map. Kudos to the team for putting it all out there.

Now let's see what happens when people get over the rainbow...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Girl Disrupted...Local Pick Opportunity

I’m all for the Local Picks application on Facebook. I thought it fit in 2007 and I still think it fits today.

However, being a bit of a media snob, I did feel a little let down by a recent notification in my profile. Local Picks had a great opportunity to gain some interaction and I think they blew it.

It’s important in any media initiative to show consistency in messaging and give audiences what you’ve promised in your call to action.

So clicking on the notification to see the new restaurant in my area should bring me to the new listing no?

What a great opportunity to ask me if I’ve been there and liked it. Heck, I might have been motivated to rate it as well.

Instead, I was sent to a generic landing page that has done two things:
  1. Disrupted my Facebook user experience as I wasn't really looking for a place to go (I was interested in seeing what new place in my area was listed).
  2. Not delivered on it's media message.

Users are fickle and competing applications are anything but scarce (especially in the local search category). This was a great example of an opportunity to stand out from the crowd AND get user interaction that was not fully realized.

Maybe the next notification will be more fulfilling for both the user and the directory.

Just a follow up note... Here's the message on my profile telling all my friends what I've (allegedly) been up to :