Bits and Bytes for April 1, 2004

Online Ad Growth Outperforms Local Search

On the heels of research indicating a nearly 29 percent increase in all local Web ad spending comes data from Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent) suggesting local search may be a big part of the budget.

Growing at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), Jupiter expects local search to rise from $502 million in 2004 to $824 million by 2008. The overall ad market will measure a 19 percent CAGR over the same period.

“Our modeling forecasts that local search, as a percentage of paid Search, will decline from 24 percent this year to 19 percent in 2008,” said JupiterResearch analyst Niki Scevak.

The study found consumers more often use the Internet to look up a known merchant than to find new ones. “The greatest misconception is that [local search] is a new market, when in fact the online arms of the Yellow Pages publishers have been operating in this space for quite some time,” said Scevak. “ and others actually do a much better job of monetizing search than even Google and Yahoo”

Marchex Goes Public

Search marketing firm Marchex went public this week, raising over $26 million in an initial public offering of 4 million common shares of stock at $6.50 a share. The stock price rose to $8.88 a share its first day of trading.

Marchex is a provider of paid inclusion, pay-per-click listings, conversion tracking and search marketing.

Court Gags Hertz

Hertz Corp.’s German subsidiary was prohibited by a German court from making public statements about its lawsuit against Claria Corp. until the case is resolved, according to the adware company.

Last week, the court issued a preliminary injunction barring Claria from using its software to place advertising, including pop-up and -under ads, on the Web site of the Hertz Corporation’s German auto rental subsidiary, Hertz Autovermietung GmbH.

Hertz announced the ruling in a press release. Claria, perhaps better known by its previous name, Gator, asked the court to prevent Hertz from making statements about the matter. On Wednesday, the court ruled in Claria’s favor.

Yahoo Adds Travel Planning Shortcuts

Yahoo Search has added five travel-related shortcuts, leapfrogging of rival Google in travel search ease.

The five new features are a hotel finder; weather conditions; plane arrival and departure; traffic conditions and a local information finder. Results appear in one click after typing a related phrase, such as “New York hotels,” into the search box.

The Hotel Finder allows users to find major hotels. With Weather Conditions, typing “New York weather” yields a graphic with temperature and other details. The Plane Arrival and Departure Status feature returns this information when a phrase like “JetBlue Flight 55” is typed into the search box.

Traffic Conditions gives updates in response to a city name followed by “traffic,” in the search box. And the Local Information Finder, actually the Yahoo Maps SmartView tool, announced last month, finds local restaurants, services and points of interest.

Some of these features already exist on Google, but are not as easily accessible. It takes four clicks to display airport weather information, as well as plane arrival and departure status.

Google Local displays maps for businesses listed in its search results, but they’re not displayed as icons on the map, as with Yahoo’s SmartView. Google offers a hotel finder that returns a list of local hotels in one click. Traffic conditions aren’t available other than via links in general Google search results.

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