Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Captive Viewers+Demographic Knowledge+Location Awareness= AppleTV2’s Targeted Local Ads?

While reporting on Apple’s mobile strategy at MacWorld I was enamored by the elegance and usability of Apple’s AppleTV2.

It solved a problem that we didn’t know we had (how to avoid driving to BlockBuster), was easy to use, very cool and consistent with Apple’s overall strategy of using the computer (or 2) as the center of the personal digital information flow.

It also struck me that Apple already had all of the elements in AppleTV2 that would make for compelling local ad delivery: location awareness, attentive audience, knowledge about tastes & interests, a credit card on hand (just one click away), demographic information and more that I hadn’t thought of. I dismissed the idea as it seemed that Apple was not even remotely discussing the idea. I should have known better than to think that Steve Jobs would leave money on the table.

This recent patent review from AppleInsider opened my eyes to both the incredibile potential of the idea and the thought that Apple had obviously put into the idea. The patent reviews the use of context sensitive widgets that can pop up on your TV screen as a funtion of the music that you are listening to or the video that you are watching. These widgets could be preprogrammed into the media or if “the content is broadcasted, such as live television, then a widget could potentially be downloaded as part of the broadcast signal from a cable head-end, or provided through a separate communication such as an Internet connection, and then displayed over the content.”
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Local Links of Interest

Google News’ New Local Angle – Greg Sterling, SEL  detailing Google’s new local news service, similar to topix.com

In CBS Test, Mobile Ads Find Users  – Laura Holson, NY Times

CBS plans to announce on Wednesday that it is trying one of the first serious experiments with cellphone advertising that is customized for a person’s location. Its CBS Mobile unit is teaming up with the social networking service Loopt, which allows its subscribers to track participating friends and family on their mobile phones. 

Porn, not ‘localisation,’ is what users are searching for  – telecoms.com

Content, not local information, is what most users are looking for when using search on their phones. And, as on the fixed Internet, much of that content is pornographic, Farhad Divecha, director of search-engine-marketing agency AccuraCast, told delegates at the recent Mobile Search Conference, held in London. 

Study: Free Mobile Directory Assistance To Overtake Paid  – Mark Walsh, mediapost.com

MerchantCircle makes me feel…

Last week I received an automated email from Yahoo Local that hit the target for automated communications. It sent me relevant information in a timely fashion about something that I cared about. I was impressed. I had encouraged Google to follow a similar path. But alas not all surveys work equally well.

MerchantCircle must have been reading my blog as they also sent along a request to fill out a survey. While the email and survey were an improvement over MerchantCircle’s previous bait and switch (see here and here) promotional efforts the survey still didn’t quite make the grade. email.jpg

The survey questions all seemed pointed to MerchantCircle wanting to know how good of a prospect I was rather than what information I might provide to actually improve their service:

survey.jpg

MerchantCircle has a history of less than stellar promotions. This one, like all of theirs, came unsolicited and filled no particular need of mine. It seemed like they were more interested in my money than in my opinion. Again, another lesson to be learned. They are getting better, but still a ways to go.

I can only imagine what their sales promotion manager is like. Here is the full survey if you would like to look at all of the questions.

Yahoo Local makes me feel good

Many small business people feel embattled, besieged and forgotten. The move toward the “free” business listings of the Internet has removed one monkey from their back – the FUD of the Yellow Pages only to replace it with the inscrutable Google Maps.

Small business people hate standing in line and begging for help ala Google Maps for Business Group. Why isn’t my listing showing? Why can’t I get in the category of my competitor? How come my competitor has the only OneBox on the search results? The questions are asked but not often answered.

At some level Yahoo seems to understand what SMB’s feel better than Google. Last week after I modified a local listing with Yahoo they sent me this email: email.jpg

It made me feel good and I dare say would make most small business people feel the same. I knew that the listing was live, I had received an acknowledgment of my effort and they had reached out to me.

I recognize it for what it is: good but automated communications. None the less I felt a certain warm and fuzzy. There was a lesson to be learned here. I even took the time to take the survey and was further impressed. When taking the survey it seemed that they were sincere about wanting to know what I thought and that they did get what it takes to deal with small business folks. Continue reading

Mobile User Survey Redux: the Late Adopter

After Greg Sterling surveyed SEL readers on their mobile internet usage patterns, I thought it would be interesting to survey a totally distinct user group. Greg agreed and we surveyed the 1123 registered readers of OleanInfo.com, of those 124 took the survey. OleanInfo.com is a local portal site catering to folks interested in Olean NY. Roughly 80% of OleanInfo’s readership lives within 40 miles of Olean, NY, a small town in western NY State.

The readership was chosen for contrast with the SEL readers. Presumably they are rural or of rural origins and less technically oriented. They proved to be, as a group, classic “late adopters”. 85.8% of the OleanInfo respondents were over 40 and 58% over 50 and as a group had very low mobile internet use. This stood in contrast to the SEL readership that was 84% under 40 of which almost half access the mobile internet once per week or more.

Other highlights:

• 90% of respondents report using their cells to text message (thus they do sooner or later adopt)
• 0% penetration of the iPhone
• Very low (12%) penetration of traditional smartphones
• 87% had no mobile internet usage AT ALL
• 26% reported using Free DA and of those 32% used Goog-411 and 44% uses Free-411. (Remember that the Goog-411 billboard campaign took place in Olean)

A more complete write up of the data is available at SearchEngineLand: Comparing Mobile Search Surveys: Early Adopters Vs. Mainstream Users

Google Maps: RSS feeds of data into My Maps?

Updated 9:00 am 1/18

One of the on-going problems confronting any local search environment is the difficulty of keeping local data fresh. The many gyrations and the long path of local data before it actually shows up in Google Maps almost guarantees a persistent accuracy problem.

Imagine though local sites that are closer to the end user and with “fresher” data feeding that data in real time into a Google My Maps environment. The implications are significant as RSS feeds from local sites provide a way to provide a potential layer in Maps that is “guaranteed fresh”. (Credit goes to Greg Sterling for providing insight & clarity on this point.)

Well it appears that Google Maps is allowing a limited number of “trusted” partners to provide exactly such feeds directly into My Maps. Merchant Circle with reviews and coupons and Topix with news are providing RSS feeds of their data to Google Maps via My Maps.

Here is a screen shot of a Merchant Circle Coupon feed from Indianapolis that shows up in Google My Maps:

merchantcircleind.jpg

At the bottom of the feed this disclaimer appears:

Displaying content from feed.merchantcircle.com
The content overlaid onto this map is provided by a third party, and Google is not responsible for it.

To view this feed in Maps just click here: Local Activity for Indianapolis, IN. There appear to be similar feeds for every city that MerchantCircle covers. Just to clarify, these results from the feeds are showing up, mixed in with standard Community Map results. It is conceivable to me that at some point they will be further blended with standard Map results in the future. For example if you searched on Dr Joe’s Chiropractic Center Idaho Falls Id you will find one of the pins from the feed mixed into the results.

drjoe.jpg

Topix.com also seems to be providing feeds of news stories (see screen capture below) which offers up the interesting possibility of viewing news stories through a geo specific lens.

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Local Links of Interest

The Chicken has Landed – Sandra Niehaus, Closed Loop Marketing on the role of linkbait worms as feed for surrogate rubber chickens.

Microsoft Takes ‘Local’ Targeting into Stores – Greg Sterling, Sreenwerk

What Does Your PPC Ad Say About You – Matt McGee, smallbusinesssem.com does a followup piece on MerchantCircle’s marketing stratgies.

Rural Verticals: The Shift of Small Town Auction Advertising – Peter at The Local Onliner

Introducing the Semmys  – Matt McGee of SmallbusinesSEM has introduced a new industry award.

Nominees in Local Search category: 2008 SEMMY Awards

2008 SEMMY NomineeThe following are the nominees in the Local Search category for the 2008 SEMMY Awards. The judge(s) will narrow this group down to 5-6 finalists. Congratulations to all nominees! Thanks for the recognition!

Local Links of Interest

Local SEO 2008 Predicitons - Andrew Shortland, LOC@LSEOGuide. Andrew is doing the fumes of Delphi Oracle thing.

Google Maps Gaining On Market Leader Mapquest – Greg Sterling, SearchEngineLand provides some great analysis about Google neutrality and technology in the maps market share mayhem.

iPhone specific web sites — do they make sense? – Martin Kleppmann, Yes-No-Cancel
Bill Gates and Company Want to Watch You Watch TV, Buy Groceries, and Use Your Credit Cards and Cell Phone (and Take Notes) – Bill Slawsk, SEOByTheSeal

Local Links of Interest

Yahooo Makes a New Play for Ads on Mobile Phones – Miguel Helft, NY times

Magellan Device Adds Google Local Listings – Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch

Google’s Lunchtime Betting Game – Noam Cohen NY Times
This has little to do with local but is an interesting research report on the use of prediction markets within Google.

According to the report, “Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence From Google,” which was presented Friday at the American Economic Association meeting in New Orleans, the strongest correlation in betting was found among people who sat very close to one another, trumping even friendship or other close social ties.

This is tangible evidence, the authors argue, that information is shared most easily and effectively among office neighbors, even at an Internet company where instant messaging and e-mail are generally preferred to face-to-face discussion.

What Does 2008 Have In Store For Local? Greg Sterling, SEL