June 28, 2004, 12:00 AM

Overture launches paid local search offering on Yahoo and network partners

Industry estimates are that perhaps 25% or more of commercial searches initiated by online shoppers now are from those looking for local goods and services. A growing number of engines are offering localized search options.

Yahoo Inc.’s Overture Service’s Inc. subsidiary has launched a new paid search offering that allows marketers to target the serving of paid listings to specific geographic areas. The new service, Local Match, already serves the local listings on searches powered by Yahoo and on MyCity.com. Over the next few weeks it also will start being distributed through other sites including MSN, ESPN.com, and some sites within the InfoSpace network, including search sites Dogpile.com, WebCrawler.com, MetaCrawler.com, and Excite.com.

Industry estimates are that perhaps 25% or more of commercial searches initiated by online shoppers now are from those looking for local goods and services. Local Match allows online marketers to pinpoint search queries that come from a specific geographic area surrounding the physical location of their business, from within one-half to 100 miles, as the queries for which Local Match listings are displayed.

Under that scenario, for example, a consumer electronics store in Austin, TX, could choose to have its listings appear in response to searches for “DVD player” only for searchers who are located within five miles of its location. Additionally, national retailers can use the service to target listings and discounts to customers looking to purchase items in specific local stores.

The partner sites through which Local Match is distributed will have the option of choosing how to target the listings, according to an Overture spokeswoman. For example, searchers could be prompted to supply a city of location or a ZIP code. Alternatively, targeting could be based on technology that automatically identifies IP addresses. Overture is encouraging partner sites that choose to use IP as a method of targeting to also offer users a method of getting results for localized searches for areas other than their own IP-identified geographic location. A user wishing to conduct a localized search outside of his own IP area, for example, could be prompted to supply a ZIP code or address, the spokeswoman says.

Local Match also provides a localized Internet presence for local businesses that don’t have a web site: a customizable business information page that lists location, street address, hours of operation and other key information about the business.

“The launch of Local Match marks another addition to our growing suite of integrated sponsored search offers,” says Geoff Stevens, Overture’s general manager, Local Match. “As the product evolves, we are confident that advertisers and consumers will realize the significant value of the highly targeted marketing and incredibly relevant search experience enabled by Local Match.”

Search on a growing number of engines such as through portal AOL.com and Google also now offer localized options for sponsored listings.

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