Local Online Video Becomes More Prevalent

February 23, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — In the Chinese calendar, 2008 is the Year of the Rat, but for the advertising industry, this may be remembered as the year the World Wide Web went local.

Media research firm Borrell Associates, of Williamsburg, Va., predicts a 48 percent increase in revenue for local World Wide Web advertising — from $8.4 billion to $12.6 billion — mostly in the areas of local search and video, as banner ads, pop-ups and podcasts become yesterday’s news. Media Play reported that the local online video segment could triple in 2008, from $400 million to $1.3 billion.

John Sawyer, chief strategy officer for Grand Rapids’ Grey Matter Group, couldn’t agree more.

“Actually, we’re seeing all of our clients moving more and more of their marketing resources to, we call it, digital marketing,” said Sawyer, who will be one of the speakers at the Ad Fair’s March 5 “Best Brand Recipes and Prize Winning Panel,” sponsored by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. (See related story on page B2.) “That’s definitely a trend that other advertising agencies are experiencing, as well.”

Search word advertising makes more sense with Web tools that make it easier to identify and locate users, he said. The ad is presented when the user’s need and interest in a product is high. “That is a very efficient way to do marketing,” he said.

“The Web is becoming more regionally capable. You can, actually, by search word advertising, focus on a local area. That makes it even more available as a marketing tool.”

Charles McGrath, creative director and partner at Structure Interactive, said local companies are using the Web to push back against national-sized competitors.

“At the same time, local consumers are trying to make sense of the vast Internet universe — and locality is a valuable filter,” McGrath said. “When it comes to the Web, it’s all about search with a small ‘s.’ The Web is huge, but our personal Web space isn’t, so people are always looking for ways to find relevant information. Really, we’re all looking for filters. And local works.”

McGrath and Sawyer both said it’s essential for companies to have a Web site that is interesting and takes advantage of the Web’s ability for interactive content.

“In the beginning, people would post a Web site and leave it there,” Sawyer said, but today, content management systems can keep fresh information flowing and get higher rankings on search engines.

Sawyer’s other Web ideas for small business:

  • Pay-per-click or paid search campaigns.

  • Publicize the Web site through blogs.

  • Social media.

  • Video marketing. Fueled by the YouTube phenomenon, viewing of user-generated videos grew by 70 percent to 22.4 billion in 2007, Sawyer said.

  • Web widgets.

  • Wikipedia.

  • E-mail.

“Local business should advertise the way they always have,” McGrath added. “If they advertise locally, buy localized Web ads. If they already advertise regionally or nationally, then advertise on the Web at that level.”

But they need to rely on creative marketing ideas online as much as they always have in other mediums, McGrath said. “It’s the same method, new medium.”

He said he’s not sure advertising firms are doing all they can to bring clients into this brave new world, especially with pure-play companies that are experts in honing in on local ad dollars.

“In general, I think agencies are floundering. They're still thinking of the Internet as a brochure, and they’re not thinking ‘How can we take advantage of this medium,’” McGrath added. “Instead, they’re blasting the client’s message, whether it’s appropriate or not.”    

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