Localized internet advertising is becoming more and more popular for small businesses, whether those businesses are internet based or otherwise.  Google AdWords allows for local searches, and YellowPages.com is becoming a more popular online medium for internet users and advertisers.   

Localized ads can be very valuable for the right industries.  Brick and mortar businesses and businesses that have both a virtual and local brick and mortar presence have a localized incentive with their advertising.  For example, a pizza restaurant in Chicago has a greater incentive to bid on advertising space for the phrase “pizza” from Chicagoan internet searchers than it does for the phrase on a worldwide scale.  The fact is that the majority of your business at a local brick-and-mortar store or retailer, unless you are a tourist site, will probably come from residents of your geographic area. 

This subject accentuates the growth of YellowPages.com and similar yellow pages web sites.  You might recognize the online yellow pages television commercials, and the ads have apparently been effective.  As SearchEngineWatch.com reports, the number of searches conducted on Internet Yellow Page sites increased by 27 percent, according to data from comScore and the Yellow Pages Association. 

Clearly, local internet search is catching on.  There are two major questions that can be asked as a result of the growth of local search:  

1)     Are old-fashioned paper phonebooks being replaced by the internet? 

2)     Is advertising in online phonebooks a viable route for both brick-and-mortar and virtual stores? 

The first question, in many ways, simply depends on advertising revenue of phonebooks, where most of their revenue is generated.  Even in that case, the revenue may not be a clear indication of the health of the phonebook industry since media advertising tends to fluctuate so rapidly no matter the market conditions of phonebooks or other forms of print media.  It is evident that far more people are using the internet to look up a phone number than they were 10 years ago between the development of the internet, mobile devices, and GPS systems that provide this information. 

This debate is somewhat similar to the debate over newspapers.  While there are no stats to defend this assessment, it is probably not a stretch to assume that phonebooks are more popular with the older crowd while online forms of phone number references are more popular with young people.  Also, there is something to be said for the convenience of phonebooks for those users still lacking handheld media devices. 

The second question depends more on the particular online phonebook and the type of business.  Different online phonebooks have different advertising programs and areas of advertising.  Yellowpages.com might be a better return on investment than SuperPages.com in one area, while SuperPages.com could be better for another area.  Each phone number reference website offers different advertising programs, and it is important to evaluate these programs before taking the plunge.   

As of this writing, YellowPages.com is the 30th ranked website on the internet according to quantcast.  Obviously, these phone directory websites are very popular, and they are extremely viable options for your internet advertising dollar if you do your homework on the programs and spend wisely.

Seth Trachtman is a Web Marketing Account Manager for The Net Impact Web Development St. Louis

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