Infrastructure // Unified Communications
News
11/17/2005
02:47 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
Repost This

Local Search Market Heating Up

Local search companies such as Judy's Book and TrueLocal are finding a niche in Google's shadow

In the latest sign that localized search is the next big thing on the Web, Judy's Book, an online community that provides local word-of-mouth on everything from restaurants to car washes, has raised $8 million in venture funding, led by Mobius Ventures.

The site, which launched earlier this year, is essentially a forum in which consumers within a market can swap tips on businesses they trust. The founders, Andy Sack and Chris DeVore, are banking on the fact that local businesses will invest some portion of their marketing dollars into tapping into that word of mouth, and understanding how it impacts their business. The idea is to connect consumers with businesses that provide the best service, rather than those that have the biggest advertising budget.

Local search is seen as a potential hot-growth sector of the search market that could spread some of the wealth beyond search leaders Google and Yahoo, both of which launched local search features last year. Research firms such as The Kelsey Group are predicting that local search volume will exceed 20 billion searches in the next year, representing about one-fifth of all Web searches. How that growth will impact the way businesses allocate the estimated $100 billion a year they spend on local advertising will be one of the central themes at Kelsey Group's upcoming Interactive Local Media 2005 Conference in Reston, Va.

Meanwhile, Judy's Book's latest cash infusion (it raised $2.5 million in seed funding last year) isn't the only development on the local search scene this week. Startup TrueLocal launched its local search site, which is built on a technology it calls "ground to web." The company's goal isn't to spur E-commerce, but rather to drive online consumers offline and into brick-and-mortar businesses. TrueLocal starts with a base of listings from nationwide yellow pages, matches those businesses to their Web sites, and then, when a search is conducted, only returns results for businesses that have an actual physical address in the desired geography. Local businesses can advertise, Google-style, by bidding to appear high up on listings based on category and zip code.

Despite the increasing attention Google and Yahoo are paying to local search, it's clear that challengers like Judy's Book and TrueLocal think there's plenty of room for improvement. TrueLocal, for one, says Google and Yahoo both return too much "search engine spam," a term used to describe search results for sites unrelated to the search in question. In the local search context, it refers to results that aren't actually local. Yahoo's purchase of U.K. location-based services firm Whereonearth last month to boost its local search indicates that it recognizes the need to get better at addressing what is a fast-growing market.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 - 2014
Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.