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Yahoo! EVP Hilary Schneider, during her opening keynote to Kelsey Local '07, emphasized that the company is really zeroing in on local to play a major role in Yahoo!'s growth plans. Local search's share of overall search within Yahoo! went from 11 percent to 14 percent in 2006, and local search itself grew 28 percent in the past four months, per comScore.

Yahoo! sees local usage in five key segments: Maps, which brings in 32 million unique visitors; local news and information, which brings in 30 million; social media and classifieds, which both bring in about 20 million; and directory, which brings in 18 million. “Local intent dominates the 'needs set,' ” says Schneider, citing top lookups such as maps, directions, nearby restaurants, stores, flight information and local movies.

Yahoo! Local itself is pretty well built out, with 18,000 city pages and 80,000 ZIP codes. But it only has 600 neighborhoods. “There are obviously many more than that,” says Schneider. “We have a long way to go.” Schneider additionally breaks out the local market as “national local,” with 17,000 businesses spending US$22.4 billion on advertising; “regional local,” with 85,000 businesses spending US$48.3 billion; and “local local,” with 22 million businesses spending US$33.6 billion.

Looking forward, Schneider points to mobile as a “massive opportunity” for advertising, citing Informa projections that the ad market will grow from US$870 million in 2007 to US$11.35 billion in 2011. “Much of our growth will come from local advertisers trying to reach local advertisers at the decision point,” she says.

Talking up Yahoo!'s newspaper consortium, which is now up to 225 papers, Schneider says it is too one dimensional to think of it as the same ol', same ol'. “We're providing complete ad solutions, including online marketplaces, Web sites, storefronts with billing, content match, keywords, branding/promotion and a targeting capability. We are really building out a platform that underlines ecosystem  and enables partner sales forces to bring it to the local advertiser, based on their needs.

“Which elements do we pull together for a Thai restaurant, as opposed to a real estate agent?” she says. “We bring together really broad audience.”

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