Where’s the Local AdSense Alternative?

In the Locals Only column today, Andrew Shotland asks the question “Where Is The Competitor To AdSense In Local Search?“:

Google has created a great thing with AdSense.  I work with several sites that generate thousands of dollars a month from of it and I have built an entire business that does nothing but help local search sites optimize their AdSense revenue.  I love it and so do my clients.  That said, it seems like the world is screaming out for a credible AdSense competitor that is not Microhoo and I think the local search world is the right place to start.

Because yellow pages-type search queries typically signal an intent to purchase locally, they have an extremely high value, particularly in relation to a lot of other types of ad inventory on the web.  Local search directories that generate a decent amount of traffic can make anywhere from $15 to $100 eCPMs just by participating in the AdSense program.  Perhaps this is why there are so many sites jumping into the local search game.

In the UK directory publisher Yell offers a version of “local AdSense” today. There’s also a local-mobile version in the US through V-Enable. Reach Local has a Local Xchange. And MediaTraks has an IYP exchange (don’t know if it’s still operating). Beyond this, I know of a couple of efforts to make something like this for the local PC Internet. We’ll see whether they in fact show up.


9 Responses to “Where’s the Local AdSense Alternative?”

  1. dylanfuller Says:

    That’s a good comment by Andrew Shotland. There have been other efforts to create local (at least local in country) competitors to ad sense – but to date none has gained enough scale or been given enough time to mature. And then the banking collapse came along. In Europe Schibsted had a go in Scandinavia. Naspers in Sout Africa and Sensis in Australia. Mots of those projects are done. Müller Media along with t-info in Germany is now doing this with some success. The trick now is how to provide decent revenue to publishers while building up the advertiser base (the old chicken and egg problem). We will be looking at this at our Local Social Summit in London next month (http://www.localsocialsummit.com/). Time to revisit the recipe here.

  2. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    To be “credible”, the alternative needs the same huge reach that AdSense enjoys. Hard to imagine any network delivering that kind of reach unless it was an aggregate network sold/distributed by the combined forces/websites of all the leading newspaper, TV and YP websites. Seems unlikely you’d ever get so many different interests to agree on either the business side or the technical implementation. Too many cooks. Plus any new competitor faces the chicken/egg problem as noted above. Oh to be Google. They are sitting very pretty on the local monetization front.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    Malcom: Read the next post.

  4. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    Interesting and no surprise. They hold most of the cards wrt both monetization AND traffic. I’ve argued several times recently that the traffic will trend towards them because their local search experience is, imo, better than anything else out there: 1) It provides aggregated content (esp. ratings/reviews) across all major info sources (citysearch, tripadvisor, yelp, etc.); and 2) Most users are already using Google for non-local searches a day so why go someplace else to do a local search. Not to say they can’t be beat, but they’re making some great plays…

  5. ‘Hyper-Local’ Sites Need HL Ad Nets « Screenwerk Says:

    […] But those sites that are focused on communities and neighborhoods need monetization that does a better job for them than AdSense. One approach is Cox-owned Adify, which allows the creation of custom or vertical ad networks. […]

  6. meltaylor Says:


    great coverage on this topic.

    some food for thought to throw on the table:

    while hyper-local ad networks will emerge in many markets, the most critical piece of the puzzle still relies heavily on local feet on the street.

    while a small handful of bloggers will sell some local ads, they will quickly find that even if they sell out their inventory at respectable cpms or fees, they will end up with a less than stellar profit margin, or they will hit some kind of un-appealing revenue plateau.

    this even holds true if they also sell into a local ad network.

    examples of feet on street strategy that currently prove this point : reach local and yahoo consortium.

    another proven way that quickly gets local advertisers to step up and buy internet, is putting on ‘web 101 for local business’ seminars.

  7. Greg Sterling Says:

    I do think we’ll see simple self service options gain some traction as well.

  8. meltaylor Says:


    self-serve, citizens sales, ad networks, all will play a role.

    but so far, even google is somewhat dismayed at their ability to entice local business to ‘claim’ and populate their free listings.

    my 2 cents: we just gotta throw alot stuff at the wall, and see what sticks.

    and i am well aware of how some take this as “bad medicine”…

    all local bloggers / indie journos will have to increase their business savvy, and blend it with their well honed editorial chops.

    my thought is that scenario is inevitable.

  9. alternative investments Says:

    Given how everyone seems to be jumping on the ‘local internet marketing’ bandwagon, now might be the time when we see it. Although I won’t hold my breath.

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