Upping the Ante in Localized Targeting

In 2005, localized targeting will be a big focus for online marketers. Recent local market moves by Google, Yahoo and BellSouth create new reasons to consider including Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) as an important component of search engine marketing (SEM) efforts.

And new partnerships struck last week by SuperPages.com have shifted the landscape again. The site announced it will launch new functionality by integrating enhanced shopping and search tools from Shopping.com, eBay, and FAST.

Shop Global, Buy Local

SuperPages’ tie-in with Shopping.com allows users to tap into a “one-stop, local shop” approach for local search. I’ve used Shopping.com for a couple years to conduct product comparisons; if I can access results tied to SuperPages’ localization, the IYP could have a powerful one-two punch to get local merchants excited about online advertising. And consumers will have added assurance about whom they are dealing with through a vendor rating system.

National advertisers should find this capability enticing, as they could conceivably drive local search traffic directly into specific stores. Imagine searching for the best price on a new Samsung 60-inch DLP TV and discovering the Best Buy down the street has the exact model you want on sale. Good thing, as you don’t want to pay shipping on such a huge item, even if it’s $20 cheaper, from an Internet vendor two time zones away.

Plugging Into the World’s Biggest Garage Sale

The new and used product bidding features powered by eBay seem like a disconnect. Why not just go to eBay directly? But if you play with the site for a moment, you’ll quickly understand why the developers took an integration approach with these related shopping resources.

Let’s say you search for an iPod on eBay, but you want to check its availability from local merchants in the yellow pages directory or conduct shopping comparisons. The search term iPod “moves” from one shopping resource to the next. You find the new U.S. version in eBay. Hit the “Compare Prices” bar, and you seamlessly jump into the shopping resource. After checking prices, you feel confident the price you might bid on eBay is reasonable.

It’s like conducting a research assignment across several sites without having to register or reenter the search term several times. Rather nifty from a customer convenience perspective.

What I’d really like to see is the ability to merge SuperPages’ localization data into my eBay search. That way I can find the item I want from local eBay sellers.

Tapping Into Consumer Behavior

If SuperPages’ move is an indication of things to come, perhaps the IYP space is morphing into a localized product and services resource portal for consumers. The key for us advertisers is to understand consumers’ behaviors as they migrate through this new shopping paradigm and intercept them with relevant messaging at the right point in the process.

I can easily see local merchants and big-box sellers promoting the value of shopping locally and targeting messages to specific regions. Got excess inventory in one market area but don’t want to dilute margins across the board? Just promote a discounted price in a few select zip codes and protect your overall profits.

How would you apply future marketing strategies to this kind of localized targeting approach? Don’t think too long; the landscape’s sure to shift again before we know it.

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