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From Mobile To iPad: Latest Opportunities For Growth In Local Advertising

At the end of last year, I predicted that mobile would drive local search growth in 2010. With smartphone use on the rise—specifically among iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-powered devices. I was confident that local search providers and advertisers would increasingly embrace opportunities in the space.

Already, various players in the local search industry, including SuperMedia’s SuperPages, Yelp, DexOne’s DexKnows and Citysearch have either introduced or announced plans for mobile apps across all three major smartphone platforms. These companies are not just expanding local advertising portfolios, but fundamentally transforming the ways businesses generate leads.

SuperMedia, for example, recently integrated its popular SuperGuarantee program into its mobile apps, allowing consumers to sign up for the service, find qualified businesses, register service appointments, and file claims on the go.

While mobile local offerings will undoubtedly continue growing, the launch of Apple’s iPad and the impending introduction of new tablet devices ranging from Samsung’s Galaxy Tab (powered by Android) to Research in Motion’s Playbook, represent a new frontier for local lead generation. In 2011, we can expect major efforts by our industry to capitalize on this growing platform for several reasons.

First, the rate of adoption for iPad and tablet devices is off the charts. In just 80 days on the market, Apple sold 3 million iPads, but that’s nothing compared to the 3 million iPads the company plans to sell each month starting this quarter. And according to a June report by Forrester Research, tablets will account for 23% of all PCs sold to consumers in 2015—a remarkable prediction for a device class just making its debut. With so many consumers planning to purchase iPad and tablet devices and use them in their everyday lives, it will become imperative that Yellow Pages companies and other local search providers have a strong presence on this platform.

Second, the new local apps for the iPad and Android-powered tablets have been widely successful and demonstrate the value that consumers place for the interactive local business search tools we develop. At BIA/Kelsey’s DMS ’10 conference last month, Mike Wilson, GM and VP, Digital Media for Yellowbook, noted that his company’s app is the tenth-most popular in the iPad lifestyle category and the fifth-most popular overall free app for the Android. Wilson described how Yellowbook’s apps use the iPad and tablet’s multimedia features to deliver a unique user experience, allowing consumers to access basic business information, navigate locations on a map, view Facebook and Twitter feeds, read reviews, access websites and videos and even use Skype to call local businesses. The continued opportunities for innovation and integration, in addition to consumer preference for our search tools, will drive additional investment in this space.

Third, iPad and tablet devices merge the traditional online and mobile platforms into an unprecedented advertising delivery medium. Personal computers, laptops, and mobile phones all have unique functional limits that are overcome with the iPad and tablets. The iPad and tablets’ large touch-screens, combined with their mobile and geo-location features, give local businesses a blank slate to design creative and engaging new advertising methods. The opportunities appear endless.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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