Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

News from ILM -07

November 29th, 2007 by MDob

The opening day at ILM 07 was filled with interesting presentations. I thought that the Kelsey Industry Overview by Neal Polachek, Matt Booth and Peter Krasilovsky was spectacular. I will have more to say about their review in the next couple of weeks, but for now I’ll focus on some of the salient points in their presentation”

• By 2011 Global Internet and YP advertising revenues will be $134 billion

• Print Yellow Pages are losing references and advertisers, but a huge portion of the small business accounts online are sold by some sort of Yellow Pages sales force.

• The average Internet user runs approximately 41 searches a month and search has now become the front door for advertising efforts and since Local is moving towards global local, local revenues may benefit.

• Another interesting data point was the small businesses are increasingly using specialized directories and the current trend is that “verticalization” will accelerate.

I was impressed with Jake Winebaum, new President of R.RH Donnelley Interactive (RHDi). What caught my attention was that he feels, as do I, that the distinction between online local search and IYP is fast disappearing. More importantly, he spent some time indicating that one of the great weaknesses of online local search is relevancy (for background see our blogs on this topic). He briefly investigated using collaborative filtering of terms (Folksonomies) and yield management to harvest the terms that generate the greatest revenue and use those to profitably reduce ambiguity in search results.

Jake continued indicating that he feels that there is a significant mismatch between search and spending in local search (the gap is too big and the profitability too low). However, he noted that it is his feeling that we are very early in the local search game and that the disparity in advertising revenue between local search and general search will diminish quite rapidly. I think this is right directionally, but I also feel that the future may favor companies like Google who can provide a federated or universal search that includes local search results as a part of general queries.

Later in the day, Jay Herratti, president of CitySearch, spoke about the challenges facing his organization. I was interested, but not surprised, to hear him mention that geography and geocoding were among the difficult problems that the company faced. I was tempted to stand up and tell him to have his team read our series on Geotargeting, but was pleased to hear the leader of a visible online company talk about geography and spatial.

Jay also spoke about the problems of “social media” and how many business owners are up in arms about user reviews that are unfair or erroneous (a topic discussed in my paper “Local Search Meets Social Search”. He had numerous examples of how this contention is becoming a time consuming and potentially debilitating problem that needs to be addressed, although he did not specifically share his ideas on how the could be accomplished. I think this is an important topic today for any company that runs user reviews and one that will continue to grow in the future.

Towards the end of the day Claudia Poepperl, CMO of Mobile People, gave a talk that involved a canned demonstration of their mapping system which is running on SVG embedded in a Java environment. SVG has some speed advantages over sending GIFs across the wireless ether – but it also has some limitations. Take a look at their site for more info.

Finally, while I was devouring a hors d’oeurve or three I had a “back room” conversation with an unnamed person on UGC and map updating. He told me (and he might be in a position to know) that Google had taken a crack at creating a navigation map database using UGC and given up. Interesting, if true.

Tomorrow I will return to the conference to hear the Google and Nokia speakers. I will let you know what transpires.

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Posted in Geospatial, Geotargeting, ILM: 07, Kelsey Conferences, local media, Local Search

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