YSM and Geotargeting

Danny already posted in pretty extensive detail — my laptop battery died or I would’ve put this up sooner — regarding Tim Cadogan’s presentation at Yahoo Analyst Day. Tim was very thorough and credible in discussing the upgrades and improvements to the platform.

One area of interest to me, of course, was his discussion of local.

He said in their numerous conversations with advertisers one of the top requests was improved geotargeting. (Cadogan saw this benefiting both large and small business advertisers, and Yahoo by extension.) Yahoo Search Marketing has long had geotargeting but it has generally been perceived as less flexible and less effective than Google’s program.

Cadogan said that advertisers would notice many improvements around geotargeting on the new system including enhanced targeting by DMA, city and radius around a zip code and that these would be represented visually on a map.

Yahoo’s acquisition last year of Whereonearth is partly responsible for the reportedly new and improved geotargeting, which should be global in scope. He also said that the technology will help deliver better locally relevant content across the network for consumers.

When I was with The Kelsey Group I asked then comScore SVP Jim Larrison to do a “thoughtful” analysis of local search to determine how much consumer traffic and what percentage of “search” carried a local intent. comScore’s methodology was fairly “conservative,” measuring traffic at local domains (e.g., local.yahoo.com or superpages.com) and those queries with geo-modifiers (e.g., “new york sushi bars”). The Kelsey Group estimate, which I had helped originally formulate, was that about 20% of search had a local intent. But Larrison’s analysis suggested that, if consumer behavior was examined carefully, the number was closer to 40%. Larrison?s number came out at one of the Kelsey Group conferences and now has been picked up a number of times.

Indeed, today I heard that number reflected back to Cadogan in an audience question about what percentage of search was local in nature: “Some estimates put it at about 40% of queries.” Cadogan gave a quick and qualified answer that the stated number was “in the ballpark.”

CFO Sue Decker who fielded questions with Cadogan after he was through with his formal presentation also stressed the importance of local and geotargeted ads to Yahoo going forward. In her final remarks later in the day she also talked about Yahoo’s successes with small business advertiser acquisition.

Here’s more from my rambling raw notes on this morning’s presentations.

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