Hey, Tom Sullivan...

It’s ALL About The New Middleman (Sacramento Search Advertising)


Written By: Jim Bonfield, Sacramento - Sacramento Online Advertising Specialist


Local information’s new place online


(See http://www.EyeballFarm.blogspot.com for entire posting with reader comments.)


Yesterday, I listened to talk-show host, financial-wiz and all around good guy, Tom Sullivan, as he discussed some of the news that we were all discussing yesterday – A9.com, Blogs and the major shift that is actually, finally, happening in the world of information exchange…


Having held the cell-phone for more than 25-minutes to speak with Tom during the show, only to run up against “top of the hour” time constraints, I have no outlet for those eagerly prepared thoughts and comments so I place them here…

What’s it all the noise about?


A9.com, Yahoo Local, Google local, Google Video, Blogging, Vlogging … The middle man is not dead as many expected he would be by now, but his address has changed to “www” and he’s ALWAYS available on your Palm, your smartphone, your email and desktop.


We are finally; really and truly (I promise) living in that On-Demand World we’ve all been waiting for. Consumers no longer need to wait for information to be “published or pushed” to them in the slower paced, traditional sense. Nor is that information only available on a printed page. We now log-on and get it when and how we want it.


Nothing new in the worldwide sense, but what bout the LOCAL MARKET?


A survey by The Kelsey Group and BizRate.com reveal that local commercial searches – those seeking merchants "near my home or work" – represent 25.1% of all searches being performed by online buyers… Princeton, NJ (February 11, 2004)


This is more than double the amount previously estimated by analysts, and that was a year ago!


Consumers are knocking, but not many local businesses can answer.


There’s very little information out there provided by local businesses.

Enter A9, Google Local, Yahoo! Local, MSN Local, Craig’s List and in the Sacramento market, the local, Local guys, like Sacramento.com. (Don’t forget the wizened veteran – Ebay)


We want to buy locally, and we want to research it online.


Advertising dollars will follow the consumer. Consumers want LOCAL information. A9 and others are looking to give local guys the platform and the tools they need to play. The tools will be free… for a while.


“Today, 65% of consumers have researched a product online and purchased it offline. This accounted for more than $100 billion in offline sales in 2004”. Forrester Research


Big Bucks at Play


If any of these players can actually get smaller retailers to “load their channels” with the kind of price and item, shopping content users want to see, there will be a lot of new income created for the site as well as small business.


How is that possible?

Because advertising online is now lead by pay-for-performance (PPC) programs (Introduced, I believe, by Overture and made popular by Google, Yahoo!.) even the smaller players will be able to participate in a way that makes great sense and has virtually no risk. (In this new world of “guaranteed advertising” if it does not work, you don’t pay.)


A small business owner will soon be able to present his merchandise right along side national sellers that compete in that same category, and may possibly be able to offer some advantages the big guy may not be capable of.




: WalMart Vs. Pops Mart: All things being relatively equal on a product or service, who wouldn’t rather buy from a locally owned store? (I’d even be willing to pay a little more to be a “good guy”, avoid shipping costs and insure easy return should something not go as planned.)


: Get it Now: We like things now. Find it online, get in your car and buy it. Or, buy it online and pick-it up at your convenience avoiding shipping costs.


: Please, NOT the same Widget: There must be millions of products out there (world wide and in our own backyards) sold exclusively by smaller specialty stores. I’d like to shop for those things too. Currently, they are not widely available.


Parts is Parts: RSS, XML (Feeds)

If you are still with me, the pay off gets sweeter. Once that information starts to flow, it can flow to places the small business may not even have dreamed of (and need never become expert on).


Enter “feeds.”


Feeds can take many forms (see RSS Feeds) but basically, if you can get this price and item, merchandise information into a database, by using something like A9’s planned upload tools, it can be distributed to virtually any digital information device imaginable. Blogs, cell phones, black berry’s, instant messengers like AIM and IM.


Cue Music: (Journey) “Any way you want it, That's the way you need it, Any way you want it…”

Steve Perry – Internet visionary. (Who knew? He is really cool you know...)


If you, dear, small businessperson, build it, they will come. Still don’t see it?


Consider the billions of dollars spent by local small businesses, on traditional advertising, that may not really be work ing them.


Now imagine if they had an alternative that was free if it did not work and promoted by some of the most exciting consumer brands available anywhere in the world with local market penetration numbers that make them real players.


Where do you think Pops Mart will be spending their next advertising dollar?


Jim Bonfield

Tom Sullivan: Sacramento Internet and Local Search Marketing

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