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Convert Local Search into Mobile Sales

Joyce Schwarz
Convert Local Search into Mobile Sales Joyce Schwarz
A popular cliché at marketing conferences in the 1990s was "go global and think local, or vice versa."

And while international branding is still vital in a worldwide arena, smart interactive marketers are realizing that regional is the future. Geo-targeting, pay-for-call search and even newer interactive business models -- many of which are based on pay-for-performance -- will move stuff off shelves, fill movie theater seats and cash in on "celling" to the on-the-go mobile consumer of today and tomorrow.

Here's a look at marketing strategies for how to do just that and how to begin cashing in on the $600 billion regional services marketplace.

Stop the silos
A good place to start for interactive marketers is to stop putting offline, online, mobile, search, content and commerce into silos.

Christopher Isaac, a McLean-based PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, underscores this in an email: "It remains both a challenge and a huge opportunity for companies to execute two critical enablers -- to provide digital media consumers an integrated experience across different platforms, such as mobile phones, TV and fixed internet, and also to understand individual and group consumer preferences so that a very fragmented consumer market can be aggregated into meaningful segments, not just one time but on an almost continual basis."

But why look local? Last year on iMediaconnection.com, I explained that Yahoo and Google mobile deals are opening the floodgates to the $90 billion budget U.S. businesses spend annually on local advertising.

The Kelsey Group claims that 40 percent of all online search queries are for local businesses, and an amazing 92 percent of local searches convert later offline -- and adding mobile maximizes that marketing.

According to The Kelsey Group's latest forecast, the market for pay-per-call advertising is expected to reach $3.7 billion in the next four years.

Stats are going to impact 2007
In a report from Borrell Associates, local online advertising will grow 31 percent in 2007, peaking at $7.7 billion. Local paid search will mushroom by 86 percent in 2007 to $1.8 billion, and local email advertising will grow to $233 million, a 54 percent increase.

"Just as paid search contributes to more than 40 percent of the total U.S. online ad spending market, so it is for local online advertising where paid search provides over 55 percent of the local total, " states eMarketer.com.

Don't forget that paid search in the local market is just heating up and many brands are slow to realize the value of local online ad-spends and tie-ins with mobile marketing opportunities.

So how does this translate to mobile and the new art and science of wireless marketing, or what I call "celling"?

Back in December, Ingenio, a leader in pay-per-call advertising, partnered with JumpTap, Inc., a mobile search provider for such carriers as Alltel and Virgin, with a goal of making that connection at the exact point people are ready to buy.

Ingenio has similar deals with AOL and Go2.com. Microsoft and Google also are implementing pay-per-call programs for mobile where advertisers only pay when the customer actually clicks or calls for more info or to buy products.

Next: WPP jumps on mobile search

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Two weeks ago, WPP Group, one of the world's leading communications services groups invested in JumpTap, Inc. This investment will provide clients of WPP companies with access to mobile search and advertising solutions. JumpTap's president and CEO, Dan Olschwang, predicts that his mobile operator customers will do more than 250 million searches per month by the end of '07.

According to Mark Read, CEO of WPP Digital, an initiative within WPP to develop the company's digital offering, the partnership will enable both JumpTap and WPP to develop new techniques to target and profile customers via mobile.

A quick check on the WPP website shows top clients, including such major brands as American Express, AT&T, Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Nestlé, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Vodafone, HSBC, Samsung and Unilever.

New content demands new business models

It's not just the brands and agencies that recognize the need for change. At NATPE, co-chair Stephen Davis remarked at the opening session on Jan. 16, that he projected the time is here for a shakeout, and by year's end, he sees the new media space evolving into a much different shape.

"I see 2007 as a year of reckoning in terms of what defines new media, and more importantly what does and doesn't work from a monetization perspective and how that will affect traditional distribution channels for content," Davis said, calling for superior business models to drive the coming together of technology and content.

No single ad model fits all

It may be that no single advertising model will fit all, especially in the mobile arena. That's why a savvy content creator like Versaly Entertainment's video group, VMBC.tv, is using four advertising models in the launch of its FastLane channel in Sprint's lifestyle section.

FastLane's target is early-adopting, big-spending, gadget-loving males ages 18-34. The channel features up to 14 different programs providing advertisers an even more defined audience. The ad-revenue models include 15-second interstitial commercials, program-exclusive sponsorships, integrated advertising and digital overlays.

Versaly co-founder and CEO Matthew Feldman claims the viewer picks the time and place they watch videos, and with mid-roll interstitial, he believes the viewer is fully engaged when a spot is shown.

The highly coveted niche audience of 100,000 viewers per month is perfect for Toyota, one of the advertisers that have already signed. Add a local call-to-action, and it's likely that a high percentage of local viewers could head to a dealership for a test drive the very same day they see the promos.

A revolution in local TV search

Just around the corner is an upgraded version of pay-for-performance that you might call ITV 2.0. In a first for the interactive television arena, at the January CES show in Las Vegas, Zodiac Interactive announced the general availability of TVLocalSearch, an application that allows consumers to use the TV and search for local businesses without interrupting the viewing experience.

Like its online counterpart, TVLocalSearch is free for consumers, easy to use and gives viewers relevant information on demand. Zodiac's TVCallME service instantly connects viewers to local businesses by telephone with a click of their remote control and offers a hassle free way to connect to a local vendor, opening up a cornerstone to monetize search for TV.

"To paraphrase Tip O'Neill, all advertising is local," says Matt Johnston, Zodiac's SVP of strategy and business development. "We're transforming TV from a branding medium to a transaction-ready platform that empowers local consumer transactions for national and local advertisers."

This is not some blue-sky venture. Cable operators flocked to the demo at CES, and Zodiac executives say it will be deployed within 90 days, which means that by summer '07, the U.S. might have a transactional system that could even beat the red-button on remotes in Europe. [In case you've never seen a remote over the pond, it includes a red button you can press to buy stuff and find out more information on what you see on TV.]

IVillagelive.com offers 3-screen interactivity
Meanwhile, I'll just have to satisfy my quest for interactivity by heading over to iVillageLive.com to join their West Coast chat with fellow viewers who seem to appreciate a two-screen show that spices up content with mobile quizzes and polls. Sponsors I spotted include Bally Total Fitness, Estee Lauder, Healthy Choice and Unilever.

How about at least some online coupons, iVillageLive?

Joyce A. Schwarz is an author, analyst, futurist and principal of JCOM. Read full bio





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