This is sort of amazing. I was reading about pinot noir wines on the NYTimes' Web site (perhaps I was too influenced by Sideways). The Times liked a particular New Zealand pinot, Peregrine Central Otago 2001, better than the other wines they tasted.
Just as an informal test of whether I could find a store in my area where I could buy the wine, I cut and pasted the name of the wine off the Times' Web site and plugged it into several different search engines' local sites, as well as several YP sites, together with my city name to see what would happen.
Without going into the full details or the complete list of sites, I was able to get results on Google Local and MSN (near me). The Google results, which were imperfect, were better because there was a map associated with the listing, which MSN did not have. But remarkably I did find a few local places where the wine was available€"a restaurant, a museum with a tasing event and a couple of wine shops.
So there are many criticisms to make of these results, but the point here is . . . this is the local search of the future. And it was remarkable that I was able to cut and paste a line of text into Google, add my city name, hit the "Local" link and get results. This probably took me less than 10 seconds.
The underlying data will become more complete and the relevance of results will get better. (The experience was even easier and more satisfactory on Google Maps because I saw immediately where the locations were in relation to one another.)
There's just no way for traditional offline media to match this performance. And IYP sites had better be able to match this ease of use. None of the IYP sites I tried could in fact give me results. Notwithstanding the current concentration of searches at the category level, this is the way that consumers will be looking for products in the future.