The IAB released its annual study for online advertising expenditure in 2008 last week and growth in the top 10 mature markets slowed to only 20%. Some would say thats a tough year for online advertisers. It doesn’t sound too bad to me, given all the pessimism in Q3 and Q4 last year.
Once you look more closely though, there is quite a spread across those top ten markets.
Here is the breakdown:
- Spain: 26%
- Norway: 22%
- Denmark: 22%
- Belgium: 21%
- Italy: 20%
- UK: 19%
- Germany: 19%
- Sweden: 19%
- France: 18.5%
- Netherlands: 9%
Search remained strong with 26% year on year growth taking up some 43% of ad expenditure.
(Not sure who to credit for the image. If it is yours let me know)
I wrote over on afullerview the other day about how, a year ago, it was still much easier to just pick up the Yellow Pages and find local services.. despite the feeling that the paper version was very much an out of date medium.
Today I am in need of someone local to figure out what is wrong with my dishwasher.
Here are some real world results (searching for dishwasher repair london or if possible dishwasher repair my postcode. Lets take a look at how it went and see whether it was any better than last year.
- For the London search, it did a pretty good job – displayed a separate box of local results as well as some London-wide companies.
- For the postcode search, weirdly it displayed furniture shops first but lower down it listed a bunch of possible repair businesses nearby – but mostly for boilers.. changing the search slightly (“dishwasher repairs placed in speech marks”) restricted the results to 2 but nothing nearby.
- Using Google Maps provided the same localised results from the post code search.
- For the London search, Yahoo also did a pretty good job – some possibilities though not a local enough search to provide anything nearby
- For the post code search – nothing
- Yahoo Maps – I could not get it to find anything.
- For the London search, it found some London/nationwide companies but nothing truly local, and not as relevant as Google’s or Yahoo’s.
- For the postcode seach it found nothing.
- Using Live Maps, with the postcode it found one possibility the other side of Essex (that’s quite far outside London!)
- Looks like a quick win. It found a whole bunch of suppliers. On closer look though, they are all the same company (they all link to the same website!). What happened to all the suppliers that are listed in the Yellow Pages (paper version)?
Well the major search engines are starting to catch up with the dedicated local search engines. Yell.com is theoretically still one of the best places to start but it failed miserably here. I expected Google to do better, but with most of the info entered into its local search results being a manual process done by the businesses themselves we are really waiting for the local businesses to catchup. Yahoo and Live was a complete waste of time.
Yell has the advantage of its age old paper version which contains a huge number of businesses but it really doesnt feel like they are taking advantage of it online.
In the long term though, Google was able to recognise that the search results I required needed local businesses in the results and not just companies with websites. Once they get more information about these businesses into their servers, more and more people will surely just search from Google?
With the addition of mobile search, location is also going to become an important factor. Guess who is the default provider on my iPhone.. yup Google. I did a quick search and unsurprisingly it gave me the same results as the desktop version. It is not perfect by any means though.
There is still a long way to go to get local search right.
By the way, I eventually found someone using Google website search, as I cannot find my copy of Yellow Pages – I think I recycled it .
Corvida wrote an interesting post on a new ethnically targeted search engine called Rushmore Drive. She talks about it not being right to differentiate search based on skin colour. When put in that context it is hard to disagree with her thoughts. I commented there on her post but I wanted to expand on it here further.
Theoretically the idea is sound though if looked at in a different context – different cultures like (or search for) different things. That’s why they have different cultures, how bland it would be if we all wanted the same things! It’s natural that someone with a certain culture would use a search engine that is tailored to them – not because of their skin colour but because it finds them the results they want. Of course, it is a bit chicken and egg.. the service was designed for a certain community which you might be able to differentiate by skin colour, and yet it meets that community’s requirements. It may not be ethically a good thing differentiating software on skin colour but African-Americans (in this case) would be happier I bet to use a search engine which finds them what they want rather than have to search through Google.
That was the reason I left Altavista for Google in the first place.
I think over time though this specific search engine is irrelevent – Google (and the other major search players out there) will highly likely introduce profiles that tailor it’s results based on you (equally I would hope you could switch this off if you did not want Google to know that much about you).