Posted December 13, 2011 9:02 am by with 1 comment

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So much that happens in the online space is dependent upon measurement. The ability to measure results also greatly influences the ability to forecast, predict or prognosticate about where all of this is going. It sounds very clean cut and very exact doesn’t it? Well, it’s not and it is extremely important to understand that before you make any marketing decisions based on ANY data whatsoever.

A recent study from eMarketer called “Local Online Advertising: Digital Trends, Challenges and Opportunities” (buy the study here as an eMarktere subscriber only; MP has no financial arrangement with eMarketer) looks at one very active discussion area of the online space which is local and finds that how local is defined will greatly impact any predictions about its future growth.

So why the disparity? MAGNAGLOBAL has a much different definition of local online ad spend as opposed to the other two research companies

[they] take a more narrow approach to classifying local online ad spending, including only dollars spent on local TV, newspaper and radio sites in its estimates. Local paid search and display ad dollars spent elsewhere are not included.

This is an interesting view of what is considered local. I have discussed in other writings that all businesses are local businesses so I also believe that all advertising efforts can have a local element regardless of company size and scope so to not include search in local ad spend is actually a strange defintion to me.

Of course, this varied point of view presents two very different pictures of just what portion of overall ad share the local element gets. By definition of the different research studies we see that the “predictions” are dramatically different.

We always caution about research and its source. What is also critical is the basic definitions of terminology that need to be examined when looking at any research in the online space. With change happening so rapidly it’s real easy for people to play fast and loose with just about anything. In a way, this example is refreshing in that it is a bit contrarian since it actually cuts back on an Internet forecast which would seem to break some unwritten rule. Isn’t all information and research about the online space only supposed to show double digit growth for, well, forever?

What is your definition of local advertising? Do you include search in that equation? Are you paying attention to the details of the research you are working from? After all, we are told that there may be some trouble that lies in those details if we are not careful ;-).

  • It probably depends on your definition of ads too?

    Is selling coupons classified as ads? Is lead generation? Is SEO and website building? Is sign writing your car?

    I think that local businesses spend a lot more on marketing than people really consider.