Video and Local Search

I wrote a short “viewpoint” column on video as an emerging “must-have” feature for local search sites on the Local Search Guide site. Unfortunately all the embedded links to non-yellow pages sites are gone so the final paragraph has less impact.

Here’s the column with embedded links:

Video Is Becoming a ‘Must-Have’ Feature for Local Sites

In late 2005, for one of the Kelsey Group conferences I programmed, I created an online survey asking about product features on local search sites. Video was one of the roughly 21 features in a laundry list I asked local search executives to rate on a numerical scale of importance. The results of the survey clustered features into three groups: must-haves, nice-to-haves and those deemed not very important.

As you might be able to guess from this introduction, video was rated in the third group, albeit at the top of that category. Fast forward a little less than a year and a half later and the world has radically changed—at least the online world. Video is now approaching “must-have” status for many Internet sites, local sites included.

RH Donnelley’s DexOnline already sells it and YellowPages.com has video advertising in its roadmap. MojoPages (a Yelp clone) launched with video and community site Smalltown just added it. Restaurant directory SavoryNewYork is built around restaurant-related video. And SpotRunner offers a pre-produced video library that can be customized to create high quality commercials for local businesses.

But the most extensive local video can be found at TurnHere.com and on its related YouTube channel. TurnHere has recently shifted its focus and is now making its 2000 strong network of local filmmakers available to partners and third parties as a production resource.

The proliferation of online video, embodied in the rise and acquisition of YouTube late last year, has changed everything. And it has sent many traditional media companies scrambling to keep pace and formulate online video strategies. Having said that, publishers shouldn’t simply “jump on the (video) bandwagon.” Rather they should be thoughtful about how video can and should be most effectively used to add depth to consumer-facing content (whether user or professionally generated) or variety to advertiser offerings. However the question of selling video to local advertisers – not to mention shooting it – represents a challenge, though an increasingly surmountable one.

If you don’t have a video strategy you need to be thinking about whether video makes sense and, if so, how to cost-effectively add it to your site. There’s no question that the Internet is a visual medium and that text will eventually lose ground to imagery and video for both consumers and advertisers.

If you need convincing, just look at the difference between the impact of a listing for San Francisco French restaurant Fleur de Lys on YellowPages.com and on Savory San Francisco (on right).

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The Kelsey Group’s Mike Boland adds that Citysearch is going to launch video ads in May.

One Response to “Video and Local Search”

  1. Coverage from Kelsey « Screenwerk Says:

    […] attendees at this show are in something resembling a frenzy about online video. An emerging “must have” feature for local sites, it is still challenging, though inexpensive, to capture. […]

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