Local advertising sucks,or so claims froosh over at WatchMojo.com. I have to agree with froosh. Unfortunately, the internet has yet to fully take advantage of local advertising. I do admit that Google maps is fairly effective at finding local destinations for purchasing various goods. For example, a simple search for “bagels near 20008” returns a number of local bagel places. What would be great is if I could immediately have access to each of those restaurant’s menus and prices. I know that this is a huge undertaking to compile a list of goods and prices of all local stores, but I recall Ebay was actually contemplating such a move a while back, then they purchased a large stake in Craigslist.
I know that the newspaper companies are currently looking for ways to combat the loss in classified advertising revenue resulting from Craigslist. A couple years back, my friend and I were going to pitch a local ebay to Knight Ridder (the parent company of the Washington Times, and other large newspapers around the country). Unfortunately, my friend dropped out of the process, but the need is still there and I would have figured someone would have fulfilled the need by now. Rather than spending this entire post complaining about what’s lacking I’ll simply state the local ebay concept.
Ebay should create a system in which they allow local auctions and/or postings for items such as furniture, since there aren’t many people willing to pay for shipping on a couch. I’ll use furniture for this whole example. Imagine if while searching for furniture, ads popped up of local stores offering similar items. In theory you could eventually take this one more step and post pictures and prices of inventory items in that store. This could be accomplished via a tie in to the store’s point of sale system. I know of at least one site that has successfully forged agreements with the major point of sale providers, GlobalPawnl.com. If they were able to do so, why can’t Ebay?
Not only would such a system allow for targeted local advertising, but eventually there could be a published local price comparison engine resulting from the POS (point of sale) tie ins. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think this is completely feasible for a company the size of Ebay, and it’s pretty obvious that they are looking for new markets to expand into. Let me know if this is just a crazy idea.
After thinking about it, I think that the local listings wouldn’t necessarily work since Craigslist has pretty much satisfied this market. What definitely would be useful though is some sort of local price comparison engine. Additionally, as froosh pointed out, local search still has plenty of room to grow.