So far, in the poker game that is doing business on the internet, four cards have been dealt: Communications, Search, Commerce and Social Networking. But the fifth card is sliding out of the dealer's hand and Marchex bets it's going to be local search.
In a new study, "2008 Perspectives on Local Online Advertising and Content," Marchex predicts local search will be the next big thing, and has identified five trends that are driving its growth:
- The accelerating adoption of online advertising by small businesses
- National advertisers expanding their presence in local markets online
- Delivering phone calls to businesses across online and offline media
- More effectively connecting consumers with local businesses
- Greater efficiencies due to consolidation and innovation
What should you do to play your cards right in the local market? Marchex recommends:
- Speak the local language
- Understand the impact of online advertising on offline transactions
- Recognize that most commercial searches have local intent
- Set different goals and expectations for local campaigns
- Understand your local strategy
One of the most significant concepts is the ability to provide answers on a local level. The report says:
Local content will provide answers to community related questions: "What's the status of construction down the street, and how will it impact my commute?" or "Where's the best place to park when I go to the away soccer game this Saturday?"
And the marriage of mobile with local search will be, unlike a quickie union at a Vegas wedding chapel, a solid one:
Mobile will extend the applicability of content originally developed "by locals for locals" to travelers who seek an insider's edge on how to get the most enjoyment out of their visit to a given neighborhood.
Facilitating all of this will be local conversations, useful to permanent residents and visitors alike. Enter social media.
Ultimately, five of a kind is the best hand you can get. That's why diversification and integration across all internet channels remains your best bet.