Vertical Search Poised For Dizzying Heights

by The Guy April 5th, 2007 

A couple of weeks ago now, okay, a month ago now… The (SEP) Guy has been busy… Piper Jaffray released its Internet Media & Marketing Report.

One the more interesting findings was the opportunity that abounds and remains untapped in search. More specifically, in Local Search or to put it another way, Niche Search or to put it another way, Vertical Search. Greg Jarboe had an interesting perspective at SearchEngine Watch with Piper Jaffray Maps Out Where the Search Industry is Headed.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to the Leah Messinger Red Herring article of March 20, 2007 Making Cents of Local Ads which, in a very pronounced subheading announced "Yahoo and Google say local businesses just don't understand." No less than Hillary Schneider, Yahoo's vice president for local markets and Google senior manager Chris LaSala proffered up those sage opinions.

Not so fast.

Let's for a second put the shoe on the other foot. Suppose it's Google and Yahoo that don't get local search.

My perspective here is Canadian so it's not clearly not in the context of the U.S. market, but it is relevant to Yahoo and it is relevant to Google and it is relevant to search and finally, to vertical/local search. Oh yeah and it might be just the teensiest bit relevant to search in Canada.

There is a tendency, and generally within market leaders to be, at best, tentative, when it comes to change. It comes from a position of the unintended arrogance (but arrogance nevertheless) that comes with being market leaders but it also tends to be a bit of an Achilles heel that can cause businesses to lose their market position when a young upstart or start up sees and seizes the opportunity.

Google doesn't offer Froogle in Canada. And commerce in Canada according to Yahoo!Shopping warrants little more than a banner advertisement strategy. (In fact at this writing, Yahoo.ca is down.)

If these two companies cannot or do not care enough to solve commerce in Canada, what chance do local markets have?

It's a position that advertisers need to do things on their (Google and Yahoo) terms. It's arrogant. It's presumptive. And it's risky.

Piper Jaffray has identifed the opportunity. Somewhere out there there's a company the has seized it and will make it work. (P.S. It's not that hard to solve particularly if you ask as opposed to insist.)

Alas, I fear it won't be a Canadian company. (Even though it would be nice if it was.)

Have a good one!

~ The (SEP) Guy

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