Skip to content is gaining some attention on the local search scene with a proposition to pare down local search traffic to more qualified users. The site buys search traffic, which it then passes through a landing page that resembles a lead gen form. After ascertaining relevant info about a user’s location (ZIP) and other needs, it passes the user on to one of its advertisers that has the best match. This includes both pay-per-click and pay-per-lead ad formats.

The goal here is clearly higher relevance, but questions have arisen over whether this relies on the user too much. It’s true that a user who takes the time to fill out the form will indicate a high intent to transact. But given the fragmentation of local media, many options are available that could compel even qualified users to hit the back button in search of results that don’t ask them to do anything.

There would also have to be a critical mass of advertisers needed to serve relevant results. This would provide the positive reinforcement needed to reward the act of filling out a form and generate repeat usage.

Qualifying search traffic is very important in local, but is requiring users to fill out forms the answer? This is similar to the (free) registration wall that has been argued to be an adoption barrier for many online news sites. It’s great for obtaining user information — a means to good ad targeting, but it ultimately pushes some users away. A big trade-off for sure.

Content delivery — both search and push-based (display ads) — could get more geographically relevant in the near future by using location awareness data. This is a more “passive” method that doesn’t require users to do anything. Then again, that day hasn’t quite arrived yet. For now, we’ll continue to rely on other proxies such as user search behavior (typing in geomodifiers), IP targeting and lead gen forms. meanwhile has some compelling campaign management features for advertisers and it could be on to something. This includes speaking in SMBs’ language about delivering leads rather than talking about clicks and SEM metrics. It will ultimately have to be proved out through users’ threshold for providing info, and the all important challenge of selling local advertisers.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Mike – we appreciate the coverage and you raise some interesting points and we would like to add some additional context. Reply! launched a vertical PPC platform similar in concept to Overture but using categories not keywords or text ads to transact clicks. We believe that simplification of online acquisition is critical to eliminate the need for complex and expensive online marketing infrastructures and large teams of experts. Our goal is to make Internet marketing easy and profitable to businesses of all sizes.

    The point is, until now, only the most sophisticated businesses with significant investments in technology and personnel (bid management, keyword expansion, analytics, quality filtering, etc) could make online marketing through search engines and ad networks profitable.

    There hasn’t been a platform or secondary market for search & ad networks clicks once they have been acquired. By that I mean, clicks that an advertiser has already purchased but fall outside of their serviceable area today are frequently redirected to an AdSense or Commission Junction page or worse, added to an email CRM / drip campaign.

    Reply! allows advertisers to purchase and/or sell category-specific clicks, after consumers have indicated the product or service they are interested in and identified the geographic area where they are located. This “Enhanced Click” dramatically improves the value and conversion potential of the click because the consumer has gone through a 2-click process to specify intent and location. So — we aren’t asking companies engaged in online acquisition today change their processes rather, we are working to help them liquidate poorly monetizing traffic and better acquire accurate geo-targeted traffic.

    We have found tremendous inaccuracy of IP filtering today. Across all of our sources of traffic we only get about a 50% accuracy. We look forward to embracing the capabilities of SMS / iphone-like apps assuming the person is shopping / searching in the same location where they are located at that exact moment.

    Regarding the target market, there are numerous lead generation and service-based companies (think Yellow Pages or Classified) that acquire consumers through some form of a landing page. Many of the largest vertical markets require personal contact (either face-to-face or by phone), such as automotive, real estate, mortgage, home improvement, insurance, education, etc. As online advertising continues its market share gains at the expense of traditional media, dollars will shift from IYP and classified advertising to performance based marketing and these companies need viable solutions that make online marketing simple and profitable. We offer those companies the ability to maximize their revenue by easily purchasing clicks for specific products or service, in a precise location. This will dramatically reduce their non-servicable clicks, reduce their investment in time and increase their ROI.

    I look forward to further discussion.


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