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Local Search Association President Neg Norton and LSA board Chairman and SuperMedia CEO Peter McDonald addressed the membership of the Local Search Starts Here conference giving a state of the industry overview. One of the messages McDonald relayed to the membership was that great opportunity exists in the local search space and that industry players still sit in a prime position to assist small businesses that need help navigating the many new media options ranging from basic listings to social media to reputation management.

McDonald cited some industry specific statistics, in particular that there were 7.4 billion print Yellow Pages references in 2011. While that does reflect a pretty steep decline from the height of PYP references over the years, the contact and purchase rates remain compelling. Sixty-two percent of those references resulted in the user contacting the business, and 76 percent of those individuals made a purchase after that contact. Additionally, McDonald noted in 2011 in the industry there were more than 266,000 metered call lines that handled 45 million phone calls.

Norton continued to share some additional research tidbits, which will be expanded upon tomorrow during a research panel run by Natalie Wuchenich, research director at LSA. Of the nuggets of data he shared included a data point compiled by LSA research partner Burke about past month reach showing that 66 percent of users used Internet search engines, 52 percent used print or online Yellow Pages, and 32 percent used newspapers.

Norton noted some of the strengths of the association, including strong public policy efforts that are currently under way across the U.S. Public policy efforts have ramped up significantly in recent years given opt-out and related legislation efforts. Efforts that the public policy team continues to work on include the industry opt-out database,, which helps 170 publishers manage their efforts and to date has handled 2.8 million opt-out requests. Additionally, the team monitors environmental efforts and has released its most recent sustainability report. Moreover, the team has worked on a new website to draw attention to helping local SMBs,, and it hired a national spokesman, the former mayor of Denver, Wellington Webb.

The association sees opportunity for itself in the industry in terms of providing more research and analytics, sales tools such as accreditation programs, best practices, and seeking partnerships with other media associations.

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