November 6, 2010

Small UI changes can make big opportunities become reality

Often it is the seemingly small changes at major online services that catch my attention. Like Facebook's small change of the photo, status update and check-in buttons from the previous use of icons for photos and check-ins and a text field for status updates in its iPhone application.

It likely is a test, but I would be highly surprised if this version doesn't drive significantly more check-ins. The combination of Facebook's massive reach, targeting based on check-in data (among other things) and Facebook's self-service system could make the local online advertising sales billion dollar market opportunity become reality.

The combination of great reach and a self-service system could allow Facebook to sell to small and medium-size local businesses in a cost-efficient way, which historically has been a problem for Yelp, Citysearch and other new local advertising companies (Groupon seemingly an exception to that rule).

The problem for local online ad sales (in addition to high sales costs) has been the lack of great products that a lot of people use. With check-ins and maps there are now (or at least soon) two strong products that allows for local advertising at scale.

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