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Mar 10 2006
Interchange for Sale?
According to this Reuters article:

Interchange Corp., owner of search engine Local.com, said on Tuesday that it has retained investment banking firm Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. to assist in reviewing strategic alternatives available to the company in connection with its national search business.

The article says "national" search business � not local. We'll investigate.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  20:19 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 10 2006
'Skype Me' Appearing on eBay
Making good on the promise of the acquisition, eBay is apparently now putting "Skype Me" modules on eBay to connect buyers and sellers in real time (testing in Europe). This makes eBay's local reach potentially much greater than it is now.

The intrepid Om Malik is the source: read more.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:35 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 10 2006
MySpace PR: It Just Keeps Getting Worse
If you're too successful then the media starts looking closely to find your warts. MySpace joins a long list of companies now feeling the real heat of negative press after a kind of Icarus climb to the sun. After many glowing industry stories about page views and time on site, etc., JupiterResearch came out and said that MySpace traffic/counts were inflated. Then the mainstream media backlash began. To date that's been focused on stalkers and pedophiles using MySpace to target potential victims.

But now comes this story about how MySpace (and other networking sites) are being used to plan potential terrorist attacks. I'm not talking here about whether the underlying facts are true. I'm discussing the downward PR spiral that now seems to have MySpace firmly in its grip. So far it hasn't hurt the site's usage. But too much more negative press may hurt it as a potential promotional vehicle for Fox or brands that may want to get at its youthful audience.

There's been considerable talk of the risks of associating brands with user-generated content and social networks. They're unpredictable and volatile unlike traditional media. But the danger now for Fox and other potential advertisers is that MySpace becomes permanently associated with all this unseemly activity (regardless of whether the underlying allegations are factually correct).

This is a fascinating thing to watch from my point of view.

_________

Here's a Vanity Fair piece on the founders and the history of MySpace. It's generally flattering.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:52 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 10 2006
New Borrell Data on Local
Borrell put out its own new local search projections (covered in MediaPost here):

[P]aid search spending by local businesses will continue to grow for the next several years, climbing to 1.7 billion in 2007 and reaching $4 billion by 2010 � at which time it will account for 47 percent of local online advertising.

Whenever people start talking about local search they need to start with definitions. In fairness it's difficult for me to comment on the predictions and assumptions because I'm only reading an article on the report. But with that disclaimer ... The Kelsey Group local search (geotargeted search, Internet YP and mobile local search) forecast is $6.167 billion by 2010. If you fold in classifieds, (which is part of the same user behavior) our forecast grows to $9.9 billion in 2010. We don't include geotargeted display ads in this forecast or locally targeted ads that may appear on verticals (although the classifieds aspect does capture a good deal of this).

One of the things many people don't fully understand is the enormous complexity of the local market "on the ground" and the fragmented and complex consumer behavior patterns associated with local/offline buying.

Here's an interesting discussion from the MediaPost article:

To analyze the current state of local search advertising, Borrell researchers examined more than 2,100 paid links to appear on Google and Yahoo queries for city-related keywords � such as, for example, "Des Moines real estate." About 36 percent of such pay-per-click links were from local advertisers � up from 5.6 percent 18 months ago.

Search adoption varied by industry, with local real estate agents especially big users of search marketing. Nearly 50 percent of pay-per-click links in the real estate category were from local advertisers � up from 17.5 percent 18 months ago. At the low end of the spectrum, 28 percent of pay-per-click results in the local hotel space came from local advertisers.


I'm going to assume the accuracy of what the article says. Real estate is an especially interesting category for local businesses and is something of a leading indicator of future trends. But real estate may also be exceptional. It's a truly local business with limited "national" competition. And generally speaking you're not going to see a phenomenon of local businesses going straight to Google, Yahoo! or MSN in large numbers in the near future (over the long term all bets are off). You may see it in pockets and there are verticals and local markets in which the sophisticated local advertiser has the money and incentive to outbid a national aggregator or competitor.

Most of the search volume is at the "category level," which doesn't permit local advertisers to compete because the nationals will gobble up the meaningful, available inventory (which is quite limited). In the "tail," locals can compete more effectively for inventory � and those clicks convert better too. But most local small businesses will need to rely on third-party "enablers" (e.g., YP, newspapers, verticals, Web hosts) to get them into search results (whether organic or paid). They can't, won't or don't want to become search-engine marketers. Certainly we can point to exceptions � the upholsterer who pores over his site analytics � but this statement is true in the aggregate.

So while you may see lots more local ads on Google, Yahoo! and MSN (because they're more targeted and convert better) don't expect those ads to be dominated by small businesses any time soon.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:51 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 10 2006
Google and MSFT
My colleague Mike Boland and I were up in Redmond yesterday. We were there to discuss local and various trends in the markets we cover. At lunch there was some casual discussion about project Origami, which "launched" today. Here's more information. And here's a photo.

Getting the right form factor is one piece of the mobile-local search puzzle. We don't really cover hardware but we watch the "space" because if there's a device that offers a great user experience in mobile it may help local search on mobile devices take off. There's all kinds of conflicting information about whether consumers want a single device that does everything or whether they're happy with separate devices � e.g., phones for calling, other devices for e-mail/Web access.

It's challenging for one device to do everything equally well (people have complained about the voice quality of some versions of the Treo for example). But as someone who has traveled quite a bit lately it would be great to have a single item that was a phone, could access e-mail and offered an "on the go" PC replacement option.

Meanwhile Google does buy online word processor Writely. Clearly it's intended to be a Word alternative on the Web (and consistent with the larger GDrive discussion). Here's an excerpt from the WSJ (sub. req'd) this morning:

The Internet search company said that it has bought closely held Upstartle LLC, whose Writely.com service lets users create, edit and share documents online. Terms weren't disclosed. Upstartle, based in Portola Valley, Calif., has four employees and was founded in late 2004.

The acquisition is part of Google's push into areas that compete with Microsoft. Google, of Mountain View, Calif., has used advertising revenue from Internet searches to support a host of free online services and software such as its Gmail e-mail service and Google Earth mapping software. Those services, in turn, are designed to attract more consumers onto its Web site and pull in more advertising.

To date, Google has played down speculation that it would extend that strategy to word processing and other services that compete with Microsoft's core personal-computer software business. The Upstartle deal is a step in that direction.

The Writely service has a spell checker and other features found on standard word-processing software such as Microsoft's Word, a part of the Office suite of programs installed on PCs. The difference is that Writely can be used by anyone with a Web browser, and it requires installation of no other software.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:34 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]










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