Thinking Locally: Q&A with Kathy Leake, President of LocalResponse

How Location Changes the Mobile Landscape

Location has been the talk of the mobile town lately, and we caught up with Kathy Leake, President of LocalResponse and one of the most powerful women in mobile advertising, according to Business Insider, to get her take on the strides the company has been taking and on the direction of the location-based industry in general. For more on mobile and location, be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming Mobile Publisher Forum, to be held in San Antonio this November!

What do you view as some of the biggest opportunities in the space right now / or / Where do you expect the next wave of innovation to come from? 

I think there will be more and more opportunity with new types of data and ad targeting given how much social media has changed the landscape in the past 4 years. The first company I founded, Media6 was based on the premise that if you and I are friends we have similar tastes and interests and therefore will convert at a higher rate. My second company, Local Response, is acting upon the social data that comes from a new behavior which is the public broadcast of location.  With the new types of platforms changing the landscape like Pinterest, which is a very visual social network, will come new opportunities for marketers.

What kind of success have you been seeing as a company lately?

We’ve seen some incredible growth and traction over the last several months, including the opening of our new SF office, headed by ex Googler and Admob exec, Jennifer Bennett, who’s leading our west coast sales efforts. From a product standpoint, we’re also happy to announce that our ad network now serves more than 7 billion impressions a month. Our revenue in the second of 2012 was 4x what it was in thesecond quarter last year, and we’re looking at becoming profitable sometime in Q3.

What kind of traction have you been seeing from your products / campaigns?

We are working with about 75 major advertisers now from multiple verticals (Telco, Travel, Retail, Auto, CPG, Health/Beauty and Financial Services).  Our performance for direct response campaigns is about 40-50% engagement.  For mobile display, we see about .7-.9 % CTR’s.

How is LocalResponse able to fill its inventory?

Since LocalResponse is an aggregate data play and we create implicit data, we can bring scale to any initiative.  The intent data set we are aggregating is about 400 million pieces a day and depending on the campaign, we can deliver $100-$150K Per month, per campaign.

This has proved incredibly valuable in specific verticals such as retail, where our intent retargeting product has achieved an average CTR of .73%, while our directresponse campaigns, have shown average click thru rates of 52%.

What are some of the new things that LocalResponse is working on?

We just launched our latest intent targeted advertising product on Web, which is really a first of its kind of service that lets advertisers target consumers based on intent expressed on social media sites.  We define Intent as someone using a location based app to “check-in” to a location, broadcasting their location on Twitter, posting a picture on Instagram, or expressing relevant sentiment.  We started out helping marketers target against this intent on mobile and now have broadened our targeting abilities to desktop as well. 

As a consumer, what are the privacy concerns?

We only respond to public data. This is a new behavior people are exhibiting for the first time, the public broadcast.  We find that consumers engage with our ads at the rate they do due to the fact they are highly relevant and contextual.  If consumers didn’t find our targeting to have a value exchange for them, it wouldn’t perform as well as it does.

Can you tell me more about are some of the sites that you can monitor intent data?

We can monitor data on any public site, such as Twitter, Yelp! Foursquare, or Instagram, and we are able to monitor this based on either explicit or implicit data, such as check-ins or tweets.

What other industries problems or challenges is LocalResponse looking to solve?

The main problem we’re addressing is poor targeting. We’re also giving advertisers more control over how they can monitor and better target their customers. Our latest partnership deal is aimed at reducing showrooming, a fairly recent phenomena where an in-store customer conducts a search on competitive prices for a product, then leaves that store to go buy that product somewhere else. We are partnering with two companies to help alleviate this issue for Retailers. One of the solutions we have is to help a retailer respond to real-time data, whilst a consumer is in store and drive conversion at POS.

What types of industries do you think benefit most from this?

We’ve seen surprising results across a wide variety of industries, from CPG, and Retail to Entertainment and Automotive. Automotive in particular was an interesting one for us since the campaign was geared to a very high-end customer.  We see tremendous performance within retail, telco, travel, auto and financial services.  Most marketers are interested and can benefit from real-time data and any expression of intent.