There are a lot of reasons why Yellow Pages will continue to be the dominant local advertising vehicle. Certainly a major benefit Yellow Pages publishers have is that advertisers and people looking to buy products and services both know a directory is the one place they can go to find each other. With few exceptions most communities have at best three Yellow Pages publishers. (Of course directory publishers also have an extremely well-trained sales force that markets the outstanding ROI, a brand name and ease of use.)
Local search is making inroads. An article on the Canadian newswire yesterday sponsored by Kijiji.ca claims that “More than 70 per cent of adult Canadians consider the Internet their first resource for shopping, news and connecting.” These numbers are far higher than Kelsey Group figures, but they indicate how the business may evolve over time.
Meanwhile, 2006 was the year that video got off the ground on the Internet. So I was interested in an article in the Jan. 29 issue of Forbes titled “Think Local: Who Will Dominate Local Video on the Web?” The story was primarily about a relatively unknown firm by the name of WorldNetCast that claims to own 750 geographically themed video sites. WorldNetCast, owned by an entrepreneur named Nathan Sassover, is one of a number of companies trying to become a major video destination for local clips. Talk about an uphill battle. His Web site has a section devoted to YellowPagesTV.com. “Yellow Pages convenience plus the power of TV” is the motto.
WorldNetCast.com is an interesting Web site, but it is almost devoid of any meaningful local information. Mr. Sassover may own some domain names, but that’s not the same as having a property full of ads that are of value to the local community. So who will dominate local video on the Web? I believe it will be one of the major search engines, directory publishers or media companies because success will only come from critical mass. Who will be the winners in local search will be a major topic of The Kelsey Group’s Drilling Down on Local Silicon Summit to be held March 19-21 in Santa Clara, California.