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by Brian D. Chmielewski
As record numbers join the roster of Internet businesses each year in
hopes of orchestrating the next successful online business model or
capitalizing on some existing niche market share, distinguishing a distinct web site presence is
becoming more complicated. Contrary to earlier claims that the Internet
serves to break through global barriers to entry and places every business on a level playing
field, many small and medium size businesses are finding international and
domestic trade outlets impenetrable, or at the least, unfriendly. While this experience may not
hold true for businesses with products or services that serve broader
audiences or that require little or no customer support, there are many services, such as theatres,
auto dealers, banks, hotels and universities and other local-base
operations, who are finding extreme value in localized targeting.
With domain name registration growth and increasing online purchasing
behavior signifying acceptance of Internet exchange by both consumer and
and strong sentiment emphasizing personalization, one-to-one approaches
and catering to individual needs, localized ad targeted is the leading
contender for the next
killer marketing ap. Why? Imagine an Internet with indexes full of every
business on the globe. Search technology as we know it quickly becomes
will not be able to locate what they need simply by keyword. The important
search factors will become price, proximity, performance and promptness.
products themselves, the qualities that consumers will expect in the
future remain the same as they are today. The consumer wants quality
dependable and honest service, fair prices, accountability, getting their
expectations met and having access to regional vendors. So, what Internet
arise from the ashes to help consumers in their pursuit for the products
or services that match their needs?
For some time, magazines and television stations have segmented their
audiences by geography for its advertisers. While several ad networks use
domain names to
approximate the location of a user, these solutions have not always been
accurate because a computer's IP address may be registered in one
location, while the user
is actually someplace else. Until recently, this type of targeting was all
that was available, leaving retail and consumer producers reluctant to use
the Internet for
delivering more accurately targeted messages.
MapQuest, the Internet cartographic service, is one service that meshes
well with the idea of localized targeting. Via its 'GeoCentric' ad
targeting service, MapQuest
can 'geo-code' locations by area or zip code, providing advertisers with
highly efficient geographic targeting. MapQuest offers localized targeting
presenting prominent banners or links to advertisers to visitors when the
click on specific cities and perform searches on specific topics. Radisson
group was one of the first companies to employ the MapQuest targeting
For one-stop domestic and international targeting, DoubleClick network's
International package, a comprehensive campaign solution, hones in on
advertisers relevant specifically to business industries based on region.
DoubleClick's Local Network delivers the broadest audience of truly local
on the Internet. With a combination of premium content sites and powerful
targeting technology, this service makes sure your ad banner reaches only
the geographic region you desire.
Unlike other online advertising agencies, DoubleClick's localized
targeting technology can distinguish residents from tourists, segmenting
them to deliver advertising
messages accordingly. Targeting by geography and site category enables you
to reach local audiences with interests specifically attuned to a
particular product or
service. Geographic targeting offers the versatility to target by city,
state or region, granting businesses of all sizes the ability to triumph
in their cyber backyards.
Loews Cineplex Entertainment used the service successfully to generate
awareness of a new theatre opening in Maryland, increasing overall
attendance, repeat visits
to the theatre and increased web site traffic. The service was also
employed by FirstStar Bank, who wanted to raise awareness of their
services and online banking
capabilities to a qualified audience in the upper Midwest USA. FirstStar
enrollments into the program increased by 20 percent and web site traffic
increased by 30
percent as a direct result of the campaign.
Given the inherent irregularities of the Internet, localized targeting is
not yet an exact science. Not only do IP addresses sometimes yield
incorrect information, but as
alluded to earlier, there's no way of knowing if someone registered as
visiting a site about Chicago is actually in Chicago.
Still, the advertising dollars being spent on localization services in
burgeoning. Wells Fargo Bank, American Honda Motor Co. and American
Airlines can be
counted among those who target users through a combination of Yahoo's
localized content, their nine city-specific information services, and the
user registration data
collected through special features such as Yahoo!'s personalized My Yahoo!
And the Weather Channel's ability to link localized ads to its 1,300 U.S.
weather reporting stations is one of its biggest strategic advantages
against other large web
Localized ad targeting offers great returns on investment for those who
need to target by geography, but until technological advances in
location via cookie technology or lead qualification assurance arrives,
the service will not be perfect. With Internet fundamentalist cries
against cookie technology,
philosophical debate about the Internet's 'purpose,' and privacy, lurking
and false roll playing all acting as barriers to obtaining demographics,
the timeliness of these
advances is uncertain.