Local.com announced today that it will launch a basic version of its Local Promote service for small businesses. The full version of Local Promote ($39.95 per month) is a tool offered to businesses to establish a Web presence with a landing page on Local.com, in addition to various distribution, pay-per-click and featured placement options.
The free basic version includes the ability for businesses to post and update business name, description and contact info. This will make it easier for lots of small business to form a Web presence in line with the Webification trend we see growing in the local search marketplace.
This comes with the premise that there is a large segment of small businesses that have erstwhile been averse to getting online for various reasons. A growing number of those are coming around, but for the many borderline cases, a free offering can sway them to start a basic landing page or micro site.
Once there, they are hoped to evolve into paid marketers, whether that be a subscription service like Local Promote, featured placement or paid search (in the case of Google’s and Yahoo!’s free landing page services, among others).
In each of these cases, the idea is to provide Internet training wheels, as we’ve said in the past, in order to increase the number of businesses online and essentially expand the addressable market of online advertisers. Hosting company Hostway’s recent acquisition of Affinity Internet is a play toward doing just this, according to Hostway VP of Global Marketing John Lee, whom I recently spoke with.
However, this won’t scale, for traditional publishers, to equal offline revenues, as Greg Sterling points out. This means opportunities exist for online pure plays such as Local.com and IYPs alike. But IYPs face cannibalization sensitivities with their offline counterparts.
I was also able to sit down with Local.com VP of Marketing Jennifer Black and COO Bruce Crair at SES, who both endorsed the online Webification strategy as central to Local Promote and relevant to Local.com’s general direction. Local.com is, in fact, going in many interesting directions coming off its US$8 million investment from Hearst.
A deeper dive on Local.com and Local Promote will be in this week’s issue of Local Media Journal.