Piper Jaffray Expert Says Local Search is set for a Boom

RashtchyPiper.jpgI’m down here visiting the Kelsey Group’s “Drilling Down on Local ’07” event, and a few minutes ago Safa Rashtchy, sr. research analyst, Internet media and marketing, managing director for Piper Jaffray, finished up his keynote address regarding local search.

Rashtchy recently published a report called “The User Revolution,” about the rise in what he’s calling “communitainment” as a mix of communication and entertainment, especially among the younger generations of Internet users. He’s also predicting $81 billion for global online ad spending by 2011.

But as this is a local show, he expanded on user interest trends to say that “Local search is the second most popular activity other than e-mail. You will have more and more focus on local search, whether it’s information or product searches that are happening….The adoption of local search by both local and search advertisers will see an increase.”

He also predicted a shift of users away from portals to search platforms, and said the inflection point for local search will happen when businesses finally get more of their inventory online. The first company to do so, he added, will “win” the business race.

“The navigation method from portals is changing from portals to search,” he said. “People are saying ‘we know what we want, help us to find where it is and don’t tell us what we want to buy.’” Rashtchy continued, “The trigger point [for local search] is likely to be when you have a large number of major merchants that have their inventory easily available online. I thought we might see something by now, but nothing significant has happened yet, but once we see a good part of inventory easily accessible online, we will see a shift.”

Finally, he predicted that mapping and satellite imagery will be coming an integral part of search. “Geographical representation of not just products, but also businesses, is more appealing — the visual aspect of it — and it will play well.”

On a side note, Rashtchy recently announced plans to leave Piper for a sabbatical starting on June 30.

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