Local.com Has High Hopes for Beefed Up Sales Team

Local.com Corporation, which operates a search engine focused on local business, expects to add several hundred people to its outsourced ad sales centers this year and hopes to boost business by selling ad subscriptions in “new and innovative ways,” said company chairman and CEO Heath Clarke.

In its latest financial statement, reflecting fourth-quarter and yearly results, the Irvine, Calif.-based company said its revenue from local search doubled from 2006 to 2007. It predicts another doubling of revenue this year and announced it recently made substantial additions to its direct sales efforts. Local.com now has 50 sales people, 40 more than it had a few weeks ago, said Clarke.

He said he expects the company to “return to positive net income” before year’s end.

Clarke said the company plans to add “several hundred” sales people to its outsourced sales centers this year. He would not disclose where they will be based, citing “competitive reasons,” but noted they, and the company’s internal sales staffers, will focus on small business advertisers.

“The goal is to sell our subscription ad product in new and innovative ways through multiple channels,” said Clarke. He said those channels will include ad agencies, business development deals and direct sales to owners of small businesses.

“We also target national businesses that have a local presence,” he added.

While Local.com has a partnership agreement with IAC/InterActiveCorp’s Citysearch online guide service, it is not a sales relationship. Clarke said Citysearch ratings and reviews appear on Local.com along with business coupons and photos.

Local.com’s organic traffic grew substantially during the past quarter, as did page views per visitor, according to the company’s statement. Revenue for Q4 was $5.9 million, representing growth of 64 percent over the fourth quarter of 2006 and growth of 6 percent over Q3. Revenue for the year was $21.5 million, a 51 percent increase over 2006 revenue of $14.2 million. Nevertheless, Local.com sustained a net loss of $2.7 million for the quarter and $18.2 million for the year.

The company expects Q1 2008 revenue of between $8.1 million and $8.3 million. If Local.com makes half that amount, it will represent a 39 percent quarterly increase. But the company expects net loss for the first quarter to be between $2.8 and $3.0 million, a loss partially caused by the $300,000 cost of expanding the outsourced direct sales force.

According to the financial report, Local.com’s revenue per thousand visitors was $197 for the quarter, up 114 percent from Q4 of 2006 and up 17 percent from Q3 of 2007. Borrell Associates ranked Local.com as the leader in online ad growth for 2007, citing its 138 percent year-over-year increase.

An earlier version of this story misattributed quotes from company chairman and CEO Heath Clarke to a spokesperson. Clarke’s name was also misspelled.

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