Cyberspace The next best place to put your advertising dollars
 
September 1st, 2004

 

By William Feldman September-October 2004

Who would have guessed, just a couple of years ago, that the World Wide Web would become the next great opportunity for local advertising. But it is. All around the country, consumers, including people looking for ceramic tile, have discovered the unbeatable advantages of turning to their computers and using Internet Yellow Pages to search for local services and products advertised online.

If you haven’t yet done so, consider including sponsored advertising in local Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) as part of your marketing mix. It is a perfect match because it provides the ability to directly reach people looking locally for the very services you offer, many of whom will search only at local IYPs. (In the first quarter of 2004, Yahoo and Google, together, sold over $1.2 billion worth of advertising. And Yahoo Yellow Pages alone are getting over 20 million local Yellow Page inquiries every month.)

Compared to laboriously thumbing through a hefty print Yellow Pages-assuming one is even handy that covers the geographic region of the search-the process is quick and easy. And the searchers follow through. According to one study, about 84-percent of IYP users contacted a local business after finding it online.

At IYPs, all “sponsored businesses” show up ahead of the alphabetized (non-sponsored) “all businesses” line listings. Plus, each ad for a “sponsored business” can carry a link to the business web site and may include some brief descriptive details.

Search results positioning of sponsored listings at each online directory is purely first come/first served, with order of placement maintained until an advertiser drops off, at which time every listing under that moves up one slot. As most people start reviewing results from the top of the screen, the higher the placement the better.

Typically, there is room for 20 or 21 sponsored business listings on the first results page. After that, the rest spill over to subsequent pages, so the power of a sponsored listing diminishes.

In most geographic regions, there are relatively few ceramic tile dealers and distributors listed as “sponsored businesses” so far and so, in most geographies, there is still plenty of “top billing” still available. Plugging in the key words “ceramic tile” for a search at Yahoo Yellow Pages covering Chicago, for example, pulled up just one sponsored business atop the results list, followed by 68 all-businesses listings that ran onto the fourth page. A search using the same terms in metro Atlanta resulted in four sponsored listings and 58 line listings. The same query in Dallas drew 87 all-businesses listings and not one sponsored listing.

Try your city or metro area with those or other key words and see how high a spot you can stake out ahead of the pack.

You can sign on as a sponsored business at an IYP yourself, typically on a monthly basis. The first decision is to determine the geography the listing will cover. At most IYPs, fees are based on the reach of geographic coverage and the number of categories under which the business will be listed.

The listing process at each directory is commonly self-service, calling for input of information into dozens of fields. Each IYP requires its own data input, and there is no live person to help with the process.

To expedite the listing process and to maximize return on investment from your advertising dollars, you may prefer to use the services of an online search advertising facilitator, such as Lead Logic, that partners directly with selected IYPs and offers small and medium sized businesses a range of fixed-price advertising packages including some not available directly from the IYPs.

The physical location of the facilitator is irrelevant because the agencies generally work via phone interviews. More importantly, make sure that the agency you decide to work with has experience buying geography search terms.

Typically, the facilitator provides a skilled representative to handle your account over the phone, helping you create the listing, choose the key words to maximize response from an ad, and monitor results.

Search advertising facilitators generally provide several ways to track how many people saw your ad and how many clicked onto your web site if you have one linked, enabling you to easily assess the effectiveness of the listings and your return on investment. (Monthly fees can be as low as under $100.)

Some facilitators also offer limitless free modifications of your listing, which can be advantageous because changing key phrases in an ad can result in a higher number of viewings of a listing and a higher rate of click-thru if the listing links to your website.

At a time when consumers are converting to online searching for local products and services by leaps and bounds, for many tile dealers and distributors, staking out a spot online ahead of the competition can be a very rewarding strategy.

William Feldman is the communications liaison at Lead Logic, a rapidly growing Internet Yellow Pages facilitator that offers local businesses assistance in setting up and optimizing online advertising. For more information contact getinfo@leadlogic.com or call 866-232-8110.

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