SOURCE: NearbyNow

December 06, 2007 12:22 ET

NearbyNow Identifies Top Local Search Trends for 2008

Leading Online Search Service Sees Shifts in Innovation, Technology, Creativity and Measurement

LOS ALTOS, CA--(Marketwire - December 6, 2007) - NearbyNow, the online service that allows consumers throughout the United States to search all products, brands, and sales currently available at local shopping centers using the Internet or mobile phones, today announced the most groundbreaking search trends for 2008. Based on the company's experience in connecting millions of shoppers with hundreds of retailers using local and mobile search, NearbyNow has identified top trends emerging from technology and business innovation, creativity and brand measurement. Hot topics include: multi-channel advertising, ad campaign localization and 1:1 marketing.

"The year ahead brings great potential as local and mobile search continues to evolve and mature," said Scott Dunlap, NearbyNow's founder and chief executive officer. "Focus on trends such as real-time inventory data aggregation, as well as making TV, print and radio advertising more measurable by creating multi-channel campaigns with Internet and mobile technology will undoubtedly be key considerations for 2008. Industry credibility is moving in a positive direction and is poised for large growth over the next few years."

Five key trends for 2008 identified in this release are:

--  Local search gets specific and becomes "better than the Yellow Pages."
    

One of the big reasons that local search has not hit its stride in a more timely manner is that consumers were not able to search for anything specific, and had to rely on searching for store names. As recent as last year, consumers would type in "Seven for Mankind jeans San Jose, Ca" and they would get zero results. As a result, it was left to the consumer to translate in their head "I think Bloomingdale's carries Seven for Mankind, so maybe they will have the pair of jeans I'm looking for" and then -- she would search for Bloomingdale's. To date, it has not been much better than the Yellow Pages.

Thanks to a number of companies getting their local inventory online (Wal-Mart, Circuit City, etc.) and a host of new companies (such as NearbyNow) making it easy to search inventory data -- consumers can now search for a specific product. This is going to make local search explode in 2008, as consumer begin to expect instant information based on localized search. Homes with broadband connections will begin using the Internet more frequently in place of the Yellow Pages, because it has the current up-to-date info. Local search, considered by some experts to be as much as 30% of all current searches, will continue to grow and enable the search industry to keep booming. The advertising dollars will follow.

In a recent article written by columnist Mark Walsh of MediaPost Publications, he made the observation that "paid local search is expected to remain the fastest-growing ad category, nearly doubling to $1.8 billion and accounting for almost a quarter of local online ad spending. Local e-mail will climb by 54 percent to $233 million, while local banners and listings will increase 18.4 percent to $5.6 billion."

--  Internet and Mobile Convergence paves the way for Search/Purchase
    Experience
    

Mobile devices are becoming an integral experience with Internet and in-store experiences. Find it online, send the information and directions to a cell phone, and go to the store.

Nearly all retailers who currently allow consumers to get an SMS receipt from a "buy online, pick up in-store" capability will see 30-40% of consumers use it. The concept is the beginning of the experience that connects the Internet and mobile (and the store) into a seamless search/purchase experience. This is going to force a lot of retailers/brands to think about mobile as a necessary part of a larger experience.

In a report from the Forrester Group titled: "US Mobile Commerce 2007: Low Reception - The State of Retail's Newest Channel," "More than half of online consumers who research products online before buying them offline, influence in excess of $126 billion of offline sales. Now, retail's newest sales channel, mobile, promises to change the dynamics of shopping yet again." *

--  Multi-Channel advertising goes live on Local Search
    

Everything goes multi-channel as Internet and mobile ads become the measurable extension of local TV, print, and radio. In 2007, the advertising industry experienced a consolidation of Internet ad agencies which came about due to advertisers demanding that ALL media become more measurable. As a result, the next trend entails using the Internet to understand how effective mediums, including TV and radio, are at raising awareness, driving purchases, building brand equity, creating customer loyalty, etc. By the end of 2008, we will most likely see a majority of ad campaigns that will include Internet or mobile as part of the combined advertising mix.

All advertising will be multi-channel. Mobile (text message) will become standard protocol for measuring print, outdoor, and radio. Internet and mobile will be used for TV and other rich media.

Additionally, there will be some form of local advertising platform that emerges in 2008. Quality UGC and validating the source of the content will be a critical component. The breakout leader in the online local space will be the company that provides the best user experience and has repeat users. Ideally this will occur without consumers being bombarded with national ads when they are looking for a local retailer, who carries a specific brand in a specific size -- rather they will receive localized ads customized to the consumers' desires and behavior.

--  Location-Based Services -- The Trifecta for 1:1 Marketing
    

The reason everyone gets so excited about location-based services is because "place" may be the single most powerful context for advertising, short of keyword. And keyword + place + now is the trifecta for 1:1 marketing. How much would a jeweler pay to target someone in the mall looking for a $20,000 necklace? "Local CPC (cost-per-click) display" will evolve to be a major factor in 2008 within the next 12-24 months will be when we will see the beginning of the words "near you" included in the marketing vocabulary like never before.

According to The Kelsey Group**, research indicates that there were six times as many keywords with a CPC of more than $1 in January 2007 than in the same period the year prior -- CPK (cost per click) rose an average 33% each month in Q1 2007 compared with the same respective months in 2006.

--  Online-to-Store Shopping will bring Instant Gratification
    

"Get it now" becomes the killer application. One thing that local search/shopping has that online shopping does not -- consumers can get the purchase right now. Over two-thirds of NearbyNow requests are to pick up items the same day. This is also reflected in the Forrester report on Online-to-Store written by senior analyst, Tamara Mendelsohn -- "want it now" is the top reason to buy locally, followed by "want to try it first" and "no shipping charges." Convenience is king for consumers and applications like "get it now" can propel local search and shopping into a whole new stratosphere. In 2008, we will begin to see more and more online stores create "buy online, pick up in store" capabilities for this very reason.

Dunlap added, "These are a few of the key topics we think will be consistently discussed during the conferences and industry events in 2008. We look forward to engaging our industry peers and business partners in the discussion; and to the ways these shifts and innovations will impact the next phase of local search."

About NearbyNow, Inc.

NearbyNow, Inc. provides a unique online service that allows consumers to search all products, brands, and sales currently available at local shopping centers using the Internet or mobile phones. Working with shopping centers and retailers across the United States, NearbyNow enables consumers to easily access local information both before and during their shopping trips. The company also creates an efficient marketing tool for retailers to target nearby consumers, helping to drive sales by turning online shoppers into in-store buyers. NearbyNow is headquartered in Los Altos, CA. Additional information can be obtained by phone at (650) 947-1300 or via the Web at www.nearbynow.com, or try our service at a shopping mall near you by texting to NEARBY (632729).

* Forrester Research, March 14, 2007 "US Mobile Commerce 2007: Low Reception - The State Of Retail's Newest Channel" by Tamara Mendelsohn with Nikki Baird, Carrie Johnson, Christine Spivey Overby

** The Kelsey Group, From NearbyNow: Part Deux, Kelsey Group Blog, August 25, 2006, by Michael Boland

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