New Online Ad Service Targets Consumers By Area

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It is now easier for businesses to use the Internet for connecting with consumers in their communities.

About 55 percent of consumers used a search engine to find information about a local business last year, up from 47 percent in 2003, according to market-research firm Kelsey Group. When people are looking for products and services such as restaurants, car repair shops and florists, they tend to spend their money in an area near where they live, work or play. It’s predicted that local search volume will exceed 20 billion searches in the next year and could exceed 30 billion by 2009.

In response to this trend, Yahoo! Local has designed an easy way for businesses of all sizes-from a major drugstore chain to an independently owned bakery-to place ads online that will be seen by people searching for related services in their community. This can help drive foot traffic to their stores and phone calls to their services at a reasonable price.

Called Yahoo! Local Self-Serve Featured Listings, this new advertising program enables merchants to get the most out of their advertising dollars by targeting their ads by geographic region and product or service category. The ads appear through Yahoo! Local searches, which combined with Yahoo! Maps, had 26.7 million U.S. visitors in March, according to measurement firm comScore Networks Inc.

Yahoo! Local Featured Listings was designed with a self-serve function that makes it easy for local businesses to get up and running quickly. The advertiser simply enters information about the business, selects their category, and then chooses the local regions where they want to advertise.

Pricing is set on a flat-fee subscription that begins at $29.95 per month and can be paid by credit card. Because the program is sold on a first-come, first-served basis, businesses don’t end up in a bidding war for popular keywords. The exact rate is determined by the particular business category, the geographic location and also where the ad will appear. Ads that run on the top-also known as the “north” of the page-are more expensive than those that run along the bottom to the “south.

Yahoo! Local Self-Serve Featured Listings complements other Yahoo! Local free and paid advertising products, which include:

• Free Listings: Yahoo! Local offers a free service whereby any merchant can upload detailed information on his or her business-such as hours, address and phone numbers, products and services offered, Web site or years in business-that can be viewed by all users of Yahoo! Local.

• Enhanced Listings: For a small monthly fee, merchants can submit additional content such as photos, logo, and marketing messaging that will help visually differentiate their listing.

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