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At long last, The Kelsey Group’s Drilling Down on Local: Marketplaces program is just around the corner. Our version of Coachella (or Woodstock) takes place NEXT WEEK, Wednesday to Friday, April 30-May 2, at The Westin in Seattle. We think it is the first conference exclusively dedicated to the development of local online marketplaces.

It is certainly a big part of what is going on. In fact, new Kelsey projections suggest that  “classifieds,” propelled by verticals, will grow from 18 percent of all local online advertising in 2008 to 24 percent by 2012.

Some last-minute adds to the show include Adrian Madland from Google Automotive, who was a big wheel in the development of Ford Direct; Mark Britton from Avvo, the new legal vertical being co-developed by Zillow and Expedia founder Rich Barton (a keynoter); and Dan Goodman from Loladex, the new IYP that uses Facebook groups as a platform.

We have 43 handpicked speakers, and they are all leaders. But some of the bigger names include:

• Adam Bain, Fox Interactive Media
• Rich Barton, Zillow
• Rob Barrett, LA Times
• Tom Bates, Cox Enterprises
• Merrill Brown, Consultant (“Media Genius,” says me)
• Mitch Golub,
• Erik Jorgensen, Microsoft
• Genevieve LeBrun, Trader Pubs
• Pat Marshall, Yellow Book
• Patricia Lee Smith, Seattle Times
• Michael Yang, Yahoo!

It is going to be thoughtful, and it is going to be fun. And you will do business. Come!

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