TurnHere : YouTube of Travel & Local Video

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TurnHere : YouTube of Travel & Local Video

If you were to ask me, “what’s the most interesting local site out there?” Today I might be inclined to say Brad Inman’s TurnHere.

Lots of attention has been paid to YouTube, Yahoo! Video and others, but TurnHere is quietly building a local search/travel site with video at its core. And this isn’t a bunch of 18 year-olds lip synching Rick James in front of a webcam or contemplating their pierced or tattooed navels. This is professionally shot local video by local filmmakers, but with an informal feel that works well and doesn’t make these videos seem like “commercials.”

The more you think about (and watch) this, the more compelling and even radical it starts to seem.

Here’s a short feature on Venice Beach, CA (Los Angeles). Also notice that there are sponsored films (ads) that are locally relevant. Here’s a nearby hotel (Hotel California). This is an ad, but looks and feels like the rest of the short films on the site. Watch the ad and see how much more effective it is than a text ad or even a graphical, display ad. If I were using the site to plan my vacation I might be inclined to stay at that hotel — at least it would be on my radar screen. Here’s a search results page on Google for “hotels, Venice Beach.” Compare how much “noise” there is on this page – it’s all aggregators, affiliates and travel sites.

Here’s the BB Sandwich Bar in Greenwich Village (scroll for the sponsored films below). The advertisers are businesses in the same neighborhood. This is very very effective stuff.

People have scoffed in the past at previous efforts to create video yellow pages. Consumers weren’t ready in the past and, now, yellow pages probably couldn’t pull this off at this level of quality. But Inman has created a travel/local search site with ads that truly are content (in the way that people discuss relevant sponsored search ads being “content”). They are labeled ads but you watch them because they’re locally relevant, interesting and well done. Here’s their “advertise with us” page that explains the options.

This is a different take on what SpotRunner is doing for local businesses, but in some ways more effective because it’s in local context. TurnHere will only become more and more popular as the content on the site grows and as consumers discover it. Inman told me initially that they had been making and compiling content for about two years prior to launch. While other local video sites no doubt will launch in the next 12 months, the barriers to entry are pretty high here.

Inman is happy to distribute/syndicate the video as well and the site also makes its content capable of being easily posted on other sites. Imagine how Google or Yahoo or MSFT could profit from putting some of these videos on their maps.

Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.

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