Bill Hartzer

Six Local Media Trends to Watch in 2008

2008 is already off to a great start in the online media world, and local media appears to be getting more ad dollars. Lately, we are seeing a shift in some of the ad dollars going to new media platforms, especially with the increased importance of user-generated content and the verticalization of local media.

According to the Kelsey Group, there are six new local media trends that you should watch in 2008:

Major metro markets are leading the revolution of local media sites.
More large-market publishers will proactively begin “opt-out” plans so consumers can opt out of receiving a printed directory. Publishers have typically resisted having opt-out programs in the past.

Expanding the online-only offerings.
Many publishers using their internet sites to expand into markets, which is leading to new printed directories. More publishers are expanding their internet presence in more markets where they have traditionally not had a presence. In many cases they’re expanding into markets where they don’t plan on publishing a printed directory.

Increased multi-channel selling in interactive local media.
Publishers are increasingly using call-tracking phone numbers with variable pricing on their print yellow pages’ advertising products. Merchants and call tracking numbers are being pushed across all the media channels to increase call volume.

Rising number of vertical sellers in interactive local media.
We’re seeing a rise in the number of vertical sellers, especially in the vertical sales effort in the traditionally high ad spend categories. The Kelsey Group reports that this will include search engine optimization and search engine marketing solutions being offered from newspaper groups. Internet and vertical resellers are targeting auto and real estate via SEO and SEM. And numerous start-ups will be announcing plans to enter these categories. On the content side, the Kelsey Group expects to see MLS listings creeping into sites and higher AutoTrader consumer engagement.

A higher cannibalization of traditional media sales.
The Kelsey Group says that the “promising growth of search engine click packages suggests one-to-one conversion will be sooner rather than later. Look for sales results, especially from Yellow Pages.” Personally, I’m not sure we are going to ever see one-to-one conversions anytime soon, especially because so many consumers “shop around” and compare before they actually buy. That’s just a feature of the internet, which is something that allows consumers to do so much comparing when it comes to actual buying. And, furthermore, tracking these conversions are difficult–one consumer may go to a site and shop around, only to come back to another site they’ve been to before to actually buy. This may not actually show up as one-to-one conversions because of the tracking issues involved. But we’re getting closer.

Cautious Additions of Video, Mobile, and Outdoor Advertising.
The Kelsey Group says that we should start counting ads and look for “pentration above 5 percent” in some categories. Advertisers are cautiously adding video, mobile, and outdoor advertising.

Among the trends that the Kelsey Group analysts are anticipating for verticals, classifieds and e-commerce in 2008 are an “acceleration in the print “fade rate” of Yellow Pages and newspaper circulation; the untethering of print and online usage; an uphill struggle to build independent local sales channels; more localization of national; and more use of robust ad reporting.”

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