Overture Targets Local Search Ads

Yahoo's search advertising division joins Google and others in the market to deliver sponsored search listings based on an advertiser's geographic criteria.

Overture Services Inc. jumped into the local search advertising space this week with a new program that lets advertisers target sponsored listings to a specific geography.

Overture, a division of Yahoo Inc., on Monday launched Local Match and announced that local search ads had begun appearing on Yahoo and the MyCity.com site.

Local Match allows advertisers to target their paid search listings by selecting a radius of between 0.5 miles and 100 miles from a business location. Overture then delivers those ads to participating distribution partners. Other partners slated to include local paid listings in the next few weeks include MSN, EPSN.com and sites in the InfoSpace Inc. network, including Switchboard.com and InfoSpace.com, Overture officials said.

Overture, of Pasadena, Calif., has added a twist in its local offerings, providing participating businesses with a landing Web page that includes basic information on the business location, hours, description and an online map, Overture spokeswoman Gaude Paez said. The pages are generated at no extra cost for all advertisers in the program.

The goal is to offer a Web presence to smaller businesses without Web sites, while also providing users with a snapshot about a local business or regional location of a national chain, Paez said.

"Were not addressing people browsing the Web and doing long-term research, but were addressing people that are looking for something soon," Paez said of Local Match.

Overtures entry into locally targeted search ads ups the ante with its major competitor, Google Inc. In April, Google refined its local sponsored links offering for AdWords. Other online directory sites also have moved aggressively into the space, most notably Verizon Information Services SuperPages.com, which in March started a local pay-per-click ad program.

Local search-based advertising, especially from local, small businesses, remains largely untapped but is expected to reach $2.5 billion in the United States by 2008, according to The Kelsey Group, of Princeton, N.J.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about the challenges facing local search.

Overtures Local Match sponsored listings will be returned based on a search query that contains geographic information such as a city name, address or zip code; on a sites prompt asking a user to enter a city or zip code; or on user registration information, Paez said. Partners will be able to choose which combination of information to use to return the results, she said.

Overture also can support the use of geographic information contained in IP addresses to deliver the ads, Paez said, but no partners have chosen to use that approach so far.

In its main Precision Match sponsored listings program, Overture already let advertisers bid on geographic-specific keywords. That will continue, Paez said, and distribution partners can decide whether to deliver Local Match listings for local targeting or a combination of both programs.

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