At his keynote address today at the Kelsey Group's Drilling Down on Local '07 event in Santa Clara, Ca., Peter Horan, the CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp Media and Advertising, explained his approach to managing his business is to focus on the customer perspective of finding information and not branding search from the "top down."
Horan joined IAC last month from his previous CEO position at Allbusiness.com. As CEO of IAC Media and Advertising, Horan oversees brands like Ask.com, Citysearch, Evite and others.
"What I'm trying to do with integrating all these products is come at it like an average consumer and try to get things done. We will be bringing these brands together, as needed by the consumer. We will drive from the consumer perspective," Horan said. "Where all these deals break down is when you're pitching top down."
Horan pointed out that users no longer use the Internet in such a way as to allow a branded site to show them information, but have instead shifted to using the Internet to search for things relevant to what they need. He also attributed branded search as the culprit for slower success in local search.
"To date, we haven't gotten as much traction in local as we all expected to, and I think there's a fairly specific reason. The difference is that to date we've been operating in a world of brand driven media," he said.
"For the consumer a great experience is you give them a smooth click stream from the question to the answer. To get whatever it is they want done," he said. "In this process brand aids the process, but they don't drive the process anymore."
To be successful, local search companies must provide actionable information and action-oriented information, especially after a "nuclear explosion of content" in the past five to 10 years, he said. He also admitted that the most successful local search companies are not Web-based at all, but are an "anathema to Web companies. It's the Yellow Pages, and the daily news services, and they've got armies of people walking down the street and knocking on doors," he said. "Ultimately those are the folks that have been actually able to get the deep coverage that we all want in local. But it's a high cost model."
To provide a Web style alternative, Horan intends to use the IAC call center in Atlanta as its own sales force to reach out to small businesses, and connect multiple search sites and services. He also plans to provide a tighter integration between IAC properties, while collecting more detailed information from more sources, including local blogs, following the acquisition of Insider Pages which is being integrated with Citysearch.
Horan also announced that later this month Citysearch will begin using video advertising from Turnhere.com, which creates affordable videos, to accompany local business listings.
"To the extent that we're able to show people how to do stuff or see what a restaurant [is like], you can show a lot in video," he said. "It's intrinsic in what we're trying to communicate. And there's huge demand to advertise with video."
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