New Marchex CMO on Local

MediaPost features an interview with Bill Day, co-founder of About.com and Marchex’s new “Chief Media Officer,” in the wake of the company’s acquisition of VoiceStar last week. Here are some excerpts:

Why is the time right now for local?

When we did it at About.com, it was too early. The interest area was the place to invest. Things have changed. First of all, many more people use the Internet.

If you want to have a pro-sumer model, you need one that scales to be very comprehensive. Marchex is a leader. It already has thousands and thousands and thousands of sites.

You also need a model that can get really really deep within those localities.

I did a lot of diligence coming in and with the Yellow Pages advertisers now coming on, it suggests it really is a good time to invest in local. You have to invest to reap the rewards.

Who is doing local right?

There are certainly sites that get parts of it right. I can’t point to one network that gets it right consistently. I don’t know anything countrywide. The sites that tend to do that are using very stale and automated generic content that is not good enough to get repeat visitation.

I’ve looked at some of the WashingtonPost.com sites, what Sidewalk’s done for Digital Cities. We’re in a pretty open space for starting to do things that haven’t been done so far on the net–to truly create a broad, deep network of sites.

So what’s different?

1. The environment for creating the types of services you want to create is much better. Many more people are online. There’s enough critical mass to support an audience. Enough critical mass to find people in many of those localities to be part of the content-creation process.

2. The tools are better. Many more people are blogging. Video is hotter. The infrastructure exists for doing video and digital photography, and those are much better vehicles for conveying local content.

3. From the advertisers’ side, a lot of local advertisers have seen and heard about the Internet, but the action hasn’t really happened yet. It may take a little time to develop a lot of the infrastructure for the local services. But the consumers online are different than the sorts of people who were newbies. They behave differently. That plays to our advantage.

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It’s not clear what’s meant by “what Sidewalk’s done for Digital Cities.” Microsoft’s Sidewalk was acquired by Citysearch/IAC. Digital Cities was the old name for AOL City Guide.

Consumers are, of course, all over local. But, as Day suggests, the infrastructure is now in place to bring SMBs online in a bigger way.

What’s interesting and impressive about Marchex is that the company now has more than 100K locally oriented sites to support its forthcoming relaunch of OpenList.com as a consumer destination. Most sites launch and then work on SEO. But this is happening in reverse; the SEO infrastructure exists to point to the new-and-improved OpenList when it goes live in the fall.

One Response to “New Marchex CMO on Local”

  1. earlpearl Says:

    Living in the Washington DC area, I’ll acknowledge that the Washington Post has developed some pretty strong vertical directories for some popular and lucrative advertising areas. Besides ranking well for the criteria they drive people to the directories through ppc.

    How well are they doing? I don’t know. But their directories show up well for fairly popular and high ticket products and services.

    Dave

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