Local Video Gets More Attention, Part II

If Internet Yellow Pages can work together with search engines, it will be a major impetus to the growth in local online video advertising, contends Robyn Rose, VP of marketing for Superpages.com. Superpages has been an early mover with online video and like many other IYPs, it is optimistic about video’s place in the cross-platform ad bundle sold to SMBs (print, online, video, etc.).

It’s all in the Distribution

As we’ve argued, extending video distribution beyond IYPs’ own Web sites can increase the value to the advertiser and also have marketing benefits for IYPs, including driving traffic back to them.

But one point missed in our past blog coverage was pointed out by Rose in a conversation this morning: In order to satisfy the former point (proving ROI to advertisers), the cooperation of search engines will be necessary to gain access to the analytics that will be the basis of ROI reporting back to advertisers.

Distribution on YouTube is free and easy, she argues, and can serve the above IYP marketing goals by branding videos with watermark, end-cards, etc. But this doesn’t include detailed reporting for advertisers (though YouTube recently improved its reporting features).

So Rose envisions working with Google et al more directly, to distribute video clips that can be tracked as they appear in search results and are viewed. This could involve integration with paid search platforms like AdWords, which would be attractive for Google in having a large base of video content fed into its index and monetized.

It could also play out as some sort of adjunct to GoogleTV (my speculation). Google has a proven interest in gaining video for its index, as shown by Google TV and its moves with universal search. Meanwhile more local video clips would lend to its well-known efforts to become a go-to local search starting point, given the popularity of online video and its natural ties to local search.

Given that IYPs will be the biggest source of this video as they step up sales and bundling efforts with video, some form of distribution deal seems inevitable. Like paid search, there will be some degree of self service for local businesses, but IYP sales will bring in the majority of business.

A New Cash Cow?

Video will also have parallels to paid search in that IYPs have added both to their sales bundles over the past few years. And like paid search, the value chain will have to be worked out, including the integration into the sales process.

There is also fulfillment, which will fall on the video vendors whose products IYPs are essentially reselling. There will be some natural growing pains in all parts of this value chain as business levels scale up. TurnHere, for example, recently streamlined its post-production process to better scale to new business levels care of Yellowpages.com and Superpages.

But IYPs know that video could be a saving grace in reaching favorable margins as their advertisers transition from print to lower-cost online advertising. It could also be a way to bring in new advertisers and new verticals not traditionally sold on Yellow Pages but possibly drawn to online video advertising.

There are lots of possibilities and growth opportunity. One thing that is fairly certain is that IYPs, given the invaluable local sales channel, will be in the hot seat to tap this opportunity. SMB demand for video, given its attractiveness and understandability (compared with paid search and others), will make the job easier.

The proof will be in the execution and we’ll see some false starts over the next one to two years. But local online video will be big. How big? A TKG forecast is currently in the works to answer that question.

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