Monday, November 26, 2007

The Crazy Local Ad Biz

The Crazy Local Ad Biz magnify

Excerpted from article by Chris Silver Smith
Nov. 26, 2007 at 7:35am Eastern

Internet Yellow Pages: Worth The Effort?

Locals Only - A Column From Search Engine Land Here at the end of 2007, it's painfully obvious that the local search advertising market remains highly fragmented. Numerous local search experts attending the recent SMX Local & Mobile Conference reiterated the observation that businesses seeking to target local audiences have a plethora of options, and identifying and selecting the right locally-focused sites can be an overwhelming task for small business people who have limited time to devote to the task.

So, where should you choose to devote your time and budget? What's the minimum number of sites you should appear in and which are the best for you? This article is geared towards businesses targeting local audiences, rather than businesses who do nationwide advertising—and specifically, how to choose the best internet yellow pages ("IYPs") for your ads and those where it's important to spend time optimizing your free listings.

This might seem ironic, considering that I've suggested that sites which are little more than online yellow pages might follow the expected decline of traditional print yellow pages. But, internet yellow pages overall continue to enjoy very high traffic according to independent reporting agencies, and IYPs are evolving to stay relevant in a post-print era. Also, there's fairly solid industry research that shows that true conversion rates (sales) are higher associated with referrals from internet yellow pages compared with many other channels, including major search engines.

Yellow pages sales reps who show up on your doorstep may blast you with tons of statistics on why you should buy their company's ads versus those of competitors or other media. The stats always sound good, but you've been in business long enough it's hard to trust anything coming out of a sales rep's lips. So, what do you do? If you live in a major metro area, the whole thing is compounded by the fact that you likely get jabbered at by sales reps from a few different yellow pages companies who all have books in the same area, and who all have online business directory products as well. They all spout different numbers at you, and they can't all be the best, most-used, and most-worthwhile can they?

This is nothing new—Yellow Pages sales reps have historically loved to play tricks like making you believe that you should choose to advertise in their books over the competition's because their books are bigger/fatter. The premise is that if more people are advertising in one book, it might be bigger, and if more people are advertising in one book over another, maybe they all know something you don't, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, a classic con job when starting to distribute books in a new territory involves the company printing books on thicker paper, making their books appear to be bigger than their competition's. Even if they had more ads, all that means is that the particular company sold more ads than the other—not that more people actually would see those ads, necessarily.

Chris "Silver" Smith is Lead Strategist at Netconcepts. The Locals Only column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.

My Take

Doesn't it seem crazy that there are so many choices for local advertising? Especially when you consider that all business owners know where their best leads come from. They just don't have the tool to connect with them.

Here comes Please hang in for just another month or so.