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AG News: 5/9/2006

Local Search Gaining Traction

Selling local advertising will become more difficult for local media now that the top three search engines are in a heated battle to improve local search marketing. For those who don't pay much attention, Google, MSN Search and, now, Yahoo! have all improved offerings to local merchants.

I've been heavily involved with the recently introduced Google Base and MSN Expo. Both are online stores that give merchants an opportunity to tap into a wide pool of people who are looking to buy, literally, anything. Working on campaigns using these two new forms of retailing has been an eye opener; both offer an easy way to list products, have built-in search functions, and keep track of page views. To date, neither of these new Beta systems has been promoted. But, when the promotion starts, both will take another bite out of local advertising spending.

On the other side of the fence in local online marketing is the purchase of keywords in a search engine's return list. This is where the momentum is really growing. With Google's AdWords, MSN's adCenter, and the Yahoo! “Panama” Search Marketing system, which debuted March 17, local merchants are finding it easier to use the internet for attracting local consumers.

All three depend on the purchase of keywords and only charge when an advertiser's ad is clicked. Details on Yahoo! can be found through the link below. Go here for Google AdWords. Here for MSN's adCenter.

Perhaps the time has come for local media to develop their own system of promoting local merchants through an online store. Imagine a radio station where advertisers could place products for sale online. Bolstered by an on-air campaign, the ability to connect with consumers in a given town and have them go to the internet to purchase products directly through a station web site could be a big plus for local media.

If radio, or TV, stations were to implement their own online stores featuring local merchants, you'd find interest by advertisers who want accountability. Establishing this is not as difficult as it sounds, and there is a market for it. If not, Google, MSN Search, and Yahoo! wouldn't be getting involved.

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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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