Portada Interviewed Ginger Neal, SVP ImpreMedia Digital, about the state of the local search market, an area that is very hot both in the Hispanic and the general market (According to market research firm BIA/Kelsey, online local business advertising in the U.S. will grow to nearly $20 billion this year and is expected to reach $35 billion by 2014, read about it here.) She tells us about impreMedia’s strategy in the area and gives an in-depth look at the relationship between publishing and advertising.
Portada: What is ImpreMedia's local search strategy?
Ginger Neal: “Of course, Search is critical to all aspect of our business. With our news teams we are refining how we optimize stories to ensure search ability with meta text, linking and many other common ways used to grow organic traffic. Also as we think through this strategy – similar to newspapers circulation – we are refining how we drive traffic to our site through search engine optimization and marketing and using relevant key words to ensure we generate audience traffic that has interest in our content.
For media business partners it is critical, especially in this economy, to ensure they market as effectively as possible and search is a key component of the media mix. First we need to ensure that they have a presence online and in language. If they do not we can build a robust yet cost effective Microsite that is organically optimized. We then couple that with a directory which is critical to web search-ablity and we can help them buy key words.
In addition our online classifieds and directories have been optimized for user search at the local level so businesses participating in these products also get the benefits of search.”
Portada: How does your experience at the OC Register translate into what you are doing at ImpreMedia?
Ginger Neal: “Just like at the general market media companies the Orange County Register and at The Press Enterprise (Riverside), audience engagement is a key from great journalism to bringing buyers and sellers together.
What we are doing at ImpreMedia have the same pillars, which impact every part of the organization; how we look at news content – it is now a multimedia and social experience; assessing what needs to be repackaged as content channel pure plays where there is both major transition in audience and dollars; and of course, the transition of our sales teams from a print sales organization to multimedia marketing team where we provide the local advertiser with the complete media mix.”
Portada: What do you think is the size of the local search market?
Ginger Neal: “Efficient Frontier's Q2 2010 U.S. Search Engine Performance Report indicated “search marketing is up 24% YoY “ …”with the highest growth category being Retail which is up 38%.” Per a 2009 Borrell study local search in 2010 will be a $5.9 billion industry. This is a sizable portion of the local media spend. While the steep growth will probably taper off, projections indicate continued growth.”
Portada: Do you think newspapers are in a good position to leverage the contacts of their local sales force to be leaders in local search?
Ginger Neal: “Yes, we are a trusted brand, lots of feet on the street and our local newspapers have a substantial customer base. Our sales force thinks about effective advertising all day long and we help our local businesses determine the media mix. We constantly add new tools like Microsites and search to help our advertiser reach their target audience in new ways. Our ongoing engagement has developed a level of trust and we find they typically like having one source for purchasing their media solutions.”
Portada: When it comes to Spanish-language "searching" it is still relatively small, do you see this growing?
Ginger Neal: “ImpreMedia recently led and participated in an IAB research study on US Latinos Online. This research clearly showed the emergence of a strong online community. Key indicators include a young market entering the workforce or moving up on their careers, a jump in entrepreneurial activity and rising levels of education.
The research also showed the 39M Hispanics will be online in 2014 that is 70% of the Hispanic population, 32% growth, 4x that of non-Hispanic White Alone and 61% of those surveyed indicated that the first place they look for information is the internet.
As we see this type of growth, search will naturally play a strong roll in how the Latino community gets its information.”
Portada: Do you also have a strategy for English search by Hispanics?
Ginger Neal: “Absolutely. AOL Hispanic CyberStudy’10 Conducted By CheskinResearch shows that 23% of US the online audience is Hispanic Dominant which means they consume most of their media in Spanish; 31% are bicultural consuming most media in English and 46% US dominant consuming most of their media also in English. English and Spanish search is critical that is why in our SEO strategy incorporates English and Spanish languages in our tagging, keywords and meta data so that no matter what a user searches, it will direct to our advertiser's sites.”
Portada: Do you partner with Yahoo, Google, or other search engines?
Ginger Neal: “Yes, we work with a number of search engines including Google and Yahoo plus a variety of others. Also for our users we are implementing a semantic search with the Nstein 3S technology which will crawl through our site and cross link contextually pertinent information.”
Portada: Online and Print Classified are very similar to Local Search or are they exactly the same?
Ginger Neal: “Local search is a technology used to sort through information. Online classifieds is the information being sorted -they go hand in hand. As you look at the continuum you see that directories are also a database and part of the shopping value chain to be searched because it expands into the advertiser's detailed information and takes the user closer to the transaction.
Classifieds is a more specific way to promote products and services. However, the key is to be able to link the traditional classifieds into business directory to make a powerful search. Advertisers are allocating budget for print and online classifieds but we do see a tremendous growth coming from online.”
*Ginger Neal has over 20 years experience in media with expertise in general management, market and business development, strategic planning and sales management. Prior to joining impreMedia, she served as VP Multi-media and Niche Publications at the Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, a Belo property and was General Manager of Autobytel, Inc.’s B2B website. She had also served at Freedom Communications as VP Business Development, was CEO and President of MyOC.com and OCRegister.com.