Sunday, September 16, 2007

Webcasting and the Local Internet

It is local search week on Search Engine Land . Locally focused web sites are gaining more and more popularity, and consumers are turning more and more to the web to find local information.

In other words, when the pipe bursts people are turning to their search engine instead of their yellow pages to find the plumber.

According to a recent study by Marchex, "...advertisers in local markets are projected to spend more than $100 billion on newspaper, television, radio, yellow pages, and other forms of local marketing exposure in 2007." 5% of those dollars will be spent on local internet advertising in 2007. That number is projected to increase to 25% by 2017.

The biggest threat to the local internet is that there is no "category killer" provider; information is fragmented. The closest thing to a killer app is Google maps, which part of the reason why traditional search engines get 75% of the local searches (according the Marchex). But there are also internet Yellow Page sites, local guides like Citysearch, online newspapers, and niche sites like Kudzu.

With the consensus being that the local advertising opportunity will be measured in the billions, and with mapping and GPS technologies fueling mobile search, it seems inevitable that we will see local information portals arrive to service this need. Where there are ad dollars and a market, there will surely be a portal.

And unlike the Yellow Pages, where you made a splash with color, the biggest impact will be made with video.

Once an audience is trained to access its local information from a portal, organizations will be designing video content for those eyeballs. Just as when cable television offered the consumer more channels and more choice - allowing for more local advertising - the internet will allow local businesses to develop content targeted for their market.

We usually discuss internet broadcasting, but in this context when we are comparing webcasting to other traditional broadcast methods we are really discussing narrowcasting.

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