Meet Your Local Reps

You know that rep from your local radio station? The one who keeps calling on you with local radio site inventory you feel you’ve no need or place for?

You’re going to be seeing a lot more of him. And other local ad reps, too.

Once an afterthought in most campaigns, local media is fast becoming a first stop for interactive planners. According to eMarketer, local ad spending online rose 76.7 percent in 2006. This year, it’s expected to increase by just over 50 percent, while national spending is only slated to rise 19 percent.

Advertisers are seeing increased value in newspaper, TV, radio station, and community Web sites once eschewed for portals with a broader national footprint. They’re also becoming more progressive in search campaigns, geotargeting, and customizing paid search creative to effectively deliver more relevant messages.

The Kelsey Group forecast last year that the local search segment would grow from $3.4 billion in 2005 to $13 billion in 2010. Predictably, current interest in local media also extends to classifieds; the same report found online classifieds would grow to an $18.1 billion market within the next three years.

Spending is fueled in part by national advertisers who, in an effort to better connect with local audiences, are reassessing their campaigns. Understandably, they’re drawn to the appeal of local sites that can deliver a loyal audience of frequent workplace users.

There are also SMBs (define) and mom-and-pop shops. For years, these businesses have been quietly observing as Internet usage and broadband penetration climbed. They watched as paid search took off, and new local resources such as Google Maps emerged to afford easy, self-serve access to local audiences. Now, they’re starting to spend. And their timing couldn’t be better.

That’s because online publishers are demonstrating dedication to augmenting local online opportunities.

Eager to boost Web sales revenue to recoup offline losses, traditional publishers are expanding offerings and forging new partnerships to deliver expanded local content. Earlier this year, Yahoo united with a consortium of top daily newspaper publishers, including Belo Corp., Cox Newspapers, Hearst Newspapers, and E. W. Scripps, to deliver search, display, and classified advertising through its HotJobs service.

In return, the papers are sharing some of their local content with the portal. Local news, sports, and finance information is being integrated into the Yahoo Network, giving users another way to access stories from trusted and familiar sources and giving advertisers access to additional regional inventory.

Even sites already known for a local focus are forging alliances that seem to acknowledge the growing power of local online services. In addition to posting them directly, leading automotive research site Cars.com feeds some of its used-car listings into Google Base, Google’s free classifieds marketplace. The added exposure drives additional traffic to the Cars.com site, where advertisers can target consumers as they search for more information by search term and Zip Code.

“We’ve always been local first and foremost, but we’re leveraging these new capabilities for OEMs and local dealer advertisers,” says Mitch Golub, president of Cars.com. He adds the site also offers advertisers the ability to target locally by content with detailed local pages, the content for which is populated by Cars.com.

Perhaps it’s a case of the chicken or the egg. Is advertiser interest generating new opportunities, or are publishers’ efforts encouraging marketers to open their pocketbooks? Either way, when local opportunities come calling, you may want to let them in.

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