Yesterday, moderating the local search panel at OMMA in New York, I was in another one of these situations: facing a room of people who think local is a “nice to have” or a vertical or a niche. Nobody said this explicitly but this is the sense I had. One the panel with me were InfoSpace, Free411/Jingle and ClipSyndicate (video).
Local search is about the “last-mile” of search (and online branding): getting the user from the Internet to the “store.” More companies are trying to address this including ShopLocal, Krillion, StepUp/Intuit, Yokel, Channel Intelligence and a few others.
One company that solves this problem already very nicely in several verticals is AdMission. I rarely mention them because I’m an advisor. But I was with CEO Sarah Pate in the OMMA exhibit hall yesterday afternoon having a discussion that prompted me to want to point out that the company has already successfully done what so many ad networks and firms are trying to do or aspiring to: bring branding and direct response together. But, as mentioned, the company also brings national and local together in really interesting and provocative ways.
AdMission’s platform can combine inventory feeds (before Google Gadget Ads) — cars, jobs, homes, products, etc. — in real time with branding elements, whether it be static images or video. This is very similar to what Yahoo! has announced in SmartAds but not broadly rolled out yet. And the AdMission rich media platform can include any tracking elements desired (coupons, phone numbers, send to phone, map clicks, etc.).
Very few people are fully aware of this company or its capabilities because it’s small and has mostly dealt with online newspapers, but these ads are relevant to local search pure plays, verticals and directories also.
Getting people from their “research” to the local outlet or businesses (whether big boxes or SMBs) where they’re actually going to transact is a critical issue that very few companies have solved. AdMission essentially already has.