Monday, January 22, 2007

Citysearch Expansion and What It Means

With the recent news of Citysearch's huge sales force expansion, customer service in the online advertising venue will become even more important. As giants like Citysearch open new sales locations and plan to double their revenues in local search, smaller search marketing companies will need to work harder to compete. As search engine usuage continues to grow, and small business owners are beginning to put money online, online marketing companies will need to be able to face the challenges that come with the complicated industry. Customer education and consistant campaign feedback might prove to be the deciding factor in keeping advertisiers, can large companies handle the task?...

When it comes to search, he expects Citysearch salespeople to better serve smaller businesses that don't react well to Internet ad jargon like SEM and SEO. Taking a cue from, where both Fore and fellow sales exec Neil Salvage hail from, Citysearch places much emphasis on training sales staff to understand the needs of the business owners they deal with. "It goes back to training our reps to understand that business much more than understanding online advertising," said Fore.

Sites like Citysearch also have a ways to go to catch up with search and IYP traffic. Search engine usage rose from 55 percent in 2005 to 59 percent in 2006, IYP dropped from 27 percent in '05 to 25 percent in '06, and city guide Web sites remained static at 18 percent between 2005 and 2006, falling from 21 percent in '03."It's such a competitive marketplace," Fore said. But he's banking on what he calls Citysearch's "sweet spot" between IYP and search. He points to the firm's variety of ad offerings as an advantage over more typical long-term IYP contracts, including pay-per-click, pay-per-call, flat fee-based pricing and long- or short-term contracts for sponsored listings.

Read more about Citysearch's announcement

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