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Why Multi-Platform Advertising Is Key In Local Business Search

In today’s digital world, local search campaigns succeed when they create integration and leverage audiences across technologies. That’s why a multi-platform approach makes the most sense for local business advertising—it realizes the benefits and opportunities available across all forms of media, whether they’re in print, online or on mobile.

Sensis, an Australian Yellow Pages provider, opened a new pizza joint in Melbourne last month called the Hidden Pizza Restaurant. Located in the basement of a nondescript alleyway, the restaurant began handing out flyers in the local area, as well as posting messages on its website and Facebook page, offering a free pizza to anyone willing to “just look it up the way you would any other business.”

So what happened? Over a two week period, more than 8,000 consumers ended up searching and finding the restaurant to claim their free pizza.

And how did they search for it? According to Sensis, about 70% said they located the restaurant’s information by searching one of the company’s various Yellow Pages search offerings, including its print directory (which had just been distributed), its online directory, and search-engine ads placed by their marketing team. The remaining 30% of customers said they located the restaurant via blogs, social media and word-of-mouth.

As this example illustrates, consumers are increasingly searching for the same local business information across a variety of sources and channels. Ask a group of friends how they search for a local business’ address or phone number and you’ll likely receive several different answers, depending on their age, demographics, given location, preferred technologies and a range of other factors. The Sensis campaign shows that combining several search platforms within the same initiative captures a significant audience—larger than any component would individually.

Therefore, the core questions local businesses face today are not “should we shift our advertising from print Yellow Pages to search engines?” or “is a local business review site a better advertising choice than Internet Yellow Pages?” That approach is limiting because it makes assumptions about the benefits of each offering and trades the potential leads generated on one platform for the other. Rather, the real issue is how to enable businesses to utilize the full range of options available to generate the most leads for their products and services.

I’ve just returned from the annual Yellow Pages Association conference, and here are some of the key insights on how to maximize a multiplatform approach:

Print: As it has for decades, print remains an important platform for connecting local businesses and consumers. Last month in this column, we shared new data from the Yellow Pages Association’s Local Media Tracking Study, which found that print Yellow Pages continue to attract billions of annual references and generate a high number of quality leads.

New programs such as SuperMedia’s SuperGuarantee are changing common perceptions about print Yellow Pages. SuperMedia’s program, which ensures that consumers can rely on the provider to help resolve any service issues related to their experience with a local business they find in their directories, is building on established trust in the Yellow Pages brand to generate “meaningful spikes in registrations and healthy improvement in possession and usage,” according to SuperMedia’s CEO. Other programs are increasing the availability of performance metrics for local businesses to keep track of how well their print ads are performing.

Online: The number of online offerings available for local advertising is growing rapidly as consumers increasingly turn to digital tools for local search. That said, the focus on leveraging social media and user reviews remains constant.

There are several exciting social media integrations launching within the local search space. Yellow Pages Group recently incorporated Facebook’s new Social Plugins program into its flagship YellowPages.ca website, allowing consumers who “like” a business to highlight their positive relationship directly on the site and on their friends’ Facebook newsfeeds. AT&T’s buzz.com, which recently opened to the public, allows users to tap into their existing social networks to discover, share, and store recommendations for great local businesses. Also, SuperMedia’s new local Twitter channels allow businesses to easily share coupons in their communities.

Local business search sites are also increasingly teaming up to deliver quality content and user reviews. In March, DexOne announced a partnership with Yelp to provide consumer feedback on its local search listings.

Mobile: A lot is being said about the opportunities that mobile, location-based devices provide for local business search—especially with regards to Apple’s new iPad.

Yellow Pages companies including Yellowbook, Avantar, and Yellow Magic have launched new iPad applications that allow users to easily search for local business information on the popular device. The Yellowbook app, for example, includes an integrated information/maps split screen view which generates pushpin tags with background information about businesses, user reviews, driving directions, and links to company websites.

UK’s Yellow Group also recently launched an Augmented Reality iPhone app that allows users to see business information for more than two million local shops, office, restaurants and other useful services through the iPhone’s camera viewer.

The key takeaway for local businesses is realizing that future customers will come from multiple platforms, and that by working to build an integrated, multi-platform strategy, they will increase their ability to generate new business leads.

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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