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With the the collision of deals, mobile and payments, we’re witnessing an important transformation in local. Closing the loop on ROI has long been the holy grail of advertising, not just digital advertising (insert John Wanamaker quote).

This was a key topic at our Deals 3D conference a few weeks ago and will increasingly capture our mindshare in covering the local media space. We’re also going to see a heck of a lot more of it, as things like Google Wallet/Offers are only the beginning.

In this month’s Search Engine Watch column, I took a snapshot of where we are now and what we’ve seen in the last couple of months. There’s an excerpt below and you can read the whole thing here.

Of course there is much more to it and we’ll dive much deeper in upcoming reports and conferences as the plot thickens.

A term increasingly buzzing throughout the local media space is “closing the loop”. This culminates the past two years of mobile advancements, recent excitement around local deals, and finally the emergence of mobile payments.

In June, this column examined the steps Google is taking in this direction, through its Wallet and Offers products. Together these will close the loop on search and other advertising where Google hangs its hat, by tracking “post click” offline purchases.

Since the Wallet/Offers combo punch, we’ve seen a few other examples of mobile, deals and payments coming together to close that local loop. It’s the holy grail of local (and of search), and it’s only just beginning to take form.

Among payment providers embracing local deals, American Express so far has been the most aggressive. In the last month alone, it’s launched mobile deal and payment products with Foursquare and Facebook.

During BIA/Kelsey’s recent Deals3D conference, Facebook announced “Link, Like, Love“, allowing users to link their Facebook and AMEX accounts. Deals sourced by AMEX are liked and shared within one’s social graph, but more importantly saved to their AMEX account.

Facebook will use network data such as items liked, in order to target deals for specific users. But the real magic happens when deals are automatically applied and tracked through the offline transaction (when the associated AMEX card is used).

Read the rest.

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