Google Maps vs. Yahoo Local: multi-billion dollar local search battle

In “Google wants $10 billion local online ad spend” I put forth Google’s local search advertising ambitions:Google is taking its mission to monetize “all the world’s information” to your neighborhood. Google laid down a local gauntlet today targeting the $10 billion in advertising local businesses are projected to spend online by 2010.

In “Google wants $10 billion local online ad spend” I put forth Google’s local search advertising ambitions:

Google is taking its mission to monetize “all the world’s information” to your neighborhood. Google laid down a local gauntlet today targeting the $10 billion in advertising local businesses are projected to spend online by 2010.

Approximately 109 million people (63% percent of U.S. Internet users) performed a local search online last July, a 43% increase over July 2005, according to comScore research:

Google Sites (30 percent) and Yahoo! Sites (29 percent) garnered the largest share of local searches in July. Microsoft Sites captured 12 percent of local searches, followed by the Time Warner Network with 7 percent.

Based on a recent comScore Search Satisfaction study, 41 percent of those conducting a local search were searching for something in their home area, as opposed to searching for information on businesses in locales that they intended to visit. Additionally, among those searching in their home area, 59 percent indicated they were searching for a restaurant or something entertainment-related, such as a theater, theme park or an attraction for sightseeing. Another 52 percent said they were searching specifically for a business phone number or address. Two out of five local searchers (41 percent) were looking for information on a local service in their home area, including car rental office, dry cleaner or lawyer.

The comScore study also found that performing a local search drives consumers to take action. During the second quarter of 2006, 47 percent of local searchers visited a local merchant as a result of their search behavior, while 41 percent made contact offline. More than one-third (37 percent) made contact online as a result of conducting a local area search.

Yahoo’s local search ambitions were underscored by Greg Coleman, Executive Vice President, Global Media Sales, at the MIXX conference earlier this week. During the “What will the future bring?” panel (see “Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, CNET on “What will the future bring”) Coleman noted the appeal of the local merchant ad spend: "Local ad dollars are three times that of national ad dollars."

Both Yahoo and Google are eagerly going after the local ad spend.

 

In “Google QuickBooks 2007: Death of Yellow Pages, local newspapers?” and “Google partners with Intuit QuickBooks for $120 billion SME ad spend” I discussed how Google is partnering with Intuit to integrate its advertising products within QuickBooks applications.

I cited Google CEO Eric Schmidt on Google’s targeting the advertising budgets of elusive SMEs and local businesses:

By adding key Google services into the world’s most popular accounting product, we’re making it easier than ever for small businesses to find and use all of the tools available to them.

Yahoo’s focus on local search and local merchant advertising is evident in the new blog it launched in June: Yahoo Local & Maps Blog. Paul Levine, GM Yahoo! Local and Maps said in the blog’s first post:

I am delighted to welcome you to our new Local Blog, brought to you by the Yahoo! Local and Maps team.

Whether you’re a user, merchant, publisher or developer, if you’re interested in Local or Maps, this is the place for you. Big things are happening with Yahoo! Local and Maps, and we’re continually adding items that don’t always get a big announcement. Here, we’ll point out both big and small new features in our product and APIs. We’d also love to make this a place to spotlight you - highlighting activities and gathering input from some of our favorite contributors, merchants & developers.

Both Yahoo and Google have a tall task ahead of them. The local ad opportunity is large, but the market is fragmented and difficult to reach.

In "Google wants $10 billion local online ad spend" I noted:

Google may have the product side of the local advertising equation figured out, but it has a long way to go to turn millions of elusive local merchants on to the Google self-service AdWords auction machine.