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Business Week on Local Search

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Business Week on Local Search

Business Week on Local Search

This BusinessWeek Article has been around for awhile apparently, but I just stumbled upon it (although I was interviewed for it at some point in the past). The piece profiles a San Francisco business called Absolute Adventures (which looks pretty cool) and its use of geotargeted search advertising, specifically on Yahoo!:

In August, 2004, [Absolute Adventures’ CEO Carissa] Zenorini signed up for Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search, which lets you target ads to a specific state, city, or even neighborhood. Now her ad pops up only when someone within 75 miles of San Francisco searches using the keywords she has chosen. She pays 10 cents to 99 cents per click, spending a total of about $3,000 a year. The local approach is working. Absolute Adventure’s revenues doubled, to $400,000, in the 12 months ended in August, 2005. “Online advertising is the single most important contributing factor to our success,” says Zenorini. “We ask every client how they found us, and apart from repeat business, about 97% found us online.”

Another interesting data point from the article:

A November, 2005, survey by Boston’s Yankee Group found that more than 30% of businesses with 20 to 99 employees and 40% of those with 2 to 19 staffers were using local search engine advertising.

Those numbers are pretty interesting and impressive, but also contradicted by the empirical work that I was involved with at The Kelsey Group in tracking SME advertising with search engines. What is clear however is that more SMEs are aware of Local Search advertising and are interested in getting online distribution. Unfortunately for them, the online world is getting more fragmented, competitive and complex even as multiple media scramble to build out online ad products that appeal to SMEs.

Along those lines, I spoke with SuperPages president Eric Chandler earlier this week and they’re doing some very interesting things and have learned a great deal from their early in-market tests with PPC and PPCall. Their approach is one of a local ad agency selling an expanding variety of ad products to SMEs. And they’re becoming more sophisticated by the week about it all.

Small business advertiser adoption of Local Search and online advertising in general will continue to be a messy process happening in fits and starts. But it is happening and will continue to grow, especially as SME awareness of consumer behavior (i.e., Internet adoption) prompts them to seek out ways to get in front of those online users. But as I said in the newspaper-revenues post below, those companies in a position to sell both online and offline ads are ultimately stronger — where the local market is concerned — than those that can just sell online.

Here’s a semi-related ClickZ piece about Google Base “adoption” by local and regional vertical/classifieds advertisers. Lots of interesting discussion about Base as a traffic driver or a threat to online verticals/classifieds (anecdotal support for both positions is presented):

Cadillac and Saab of Greenwich, Connecticut yesterday placed its first car listings on Google Base. The car dealer also posts listings on Cars.com, which “is not producing that much” in the way of leads, according to a company spokesperson. (It’s bringing in about 5 or 6 leads per month). So, the luxury vehicle seller decided to see what other online ad options were available and turned to Google Base.

And here’s the other view:

“I don’t see [Google Base] as a threat,” commented Terri Sutryk, Web developer at ABetterWay.com, a free real estate listings site that derives ad revenue from local contractor listings. In fact, Google Base has helped drive an average of 700 to 800 unique visitors each day to ABetterWay.com, she said. The company has featured 1,900 listings on average on Google Base for the past three months, and uploads listings in bulk each day to the system. “Technology is bringing the buyer, seller and real estate professional together whether Google’s involved or not,” opined Sutryk.

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