‘Search Starts Here’: The Evolving Local Business Model

Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics and LSA chairman, hosted an insightful workshop on the evolving local business model. The group discussed the relationship and future of various marketing strategies that increasingly rely on impressions, clicks and calls.

In his opening remarks, Dylan Swift, director of National Marketing at Yelp, overviewed Yelp’s leadership in the local/regional category with 86 million monthly visitors and 36 million reviews. Dylan said Yelp has a good position at the bottom of the purchase/decision funnel, serving as a platform for consumers ready to make a purchase. He said that despite Yelp’s reputation as a website for restaurant reviews, restaurants only account for 21% of the site’s reviews. The largest category on the site is actually shopping (23%).

Dylan discussed Yelp’s ad products, which range from fixed-fee to performance-based. He showcased Yelp’s enhanced profile option, which allows local businesses to showcase photos, videos, update business information, and remove competitor ads from their profile.. He said Yelp is leveraging pay-per-call and pay-per-reservation models to demonstrate return on investment to advertisers.

Hynek Stehno, vice president of Digital Services at Local Spectrum, said he believes local engagement and holistic planning drive performance. He described how local targeting allows for better performance: geo-fencing, local offers, and place-based models enable advertisers to determine who the customer is, what they are looking for and how to address whether it’s the right place/time for a purchase.

Hynek said the proximity of a consumer to a sale is critical – that it’s more about neighborhoods than broader markets – and that addressing behavior needs is key to driving a purchase. He noted a Google/Nielsen study that found that 55% of purchase-related conversations occur within an hour of search.

Debi Hensley, group manager – National Marketing at SuperMedia, described SuperMedia’s directional strategy that includes print, direct mail, online, mobile and even presence and social solutions: anything related to finding customers ready to buy. She discussed SuperMedia’s trial approach to advertising models including cost-per-sale, cost-per-call, cost-per-impression and revenue share.

Debi focused on the importance of driving quality leads for advertisers. She noted that local advertisers may not be as  sophisticated and need help with basic tasks like how to answer the phone.  SuperMedia now offers clients “Call U”, a training program to learn how to answer calls in ways that increase leads.

Debi also shared an interesting example of a SuperMedia mobile app that allows service businesses like contractors to set advertising budgets and generate leads based on their availability, eliminating the need for backend support.


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