The annual local search advertising market is expected to grow 60 percent by 2015, to $8.2 billion, according to media researcher BIA/Kelsey. In 2010, advertisers spent $5.1 billion on local search advertising.
The revenue growth is expected to be driven by a surge in search ad volume — 30 percent of search is expected to be local in nature by 2015 — and smarter, targeted methods, said Matt Booth, senior vice president and program director of BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media group:
“Local search ad revenues hit an all-time high last year, driven primarily by better product integration across search engines, especially Google,” Booth said in a statement. “Revenues will continue to grow as better targeting, increased mobile usage and improving integration drive up local search activity.”
BIA/Kelsey’s outlook for interactive local media is part of its U.S. Local Media Annual Forecast (2010-2015). In addition to local search, the interactive local media forecast covers the overall search market; display and local display advertising; and email, reputation and presence management.
Who will be the likely beneficiaries of this $8 billion spending spree? Obvious candidates would include the major search companies. In April Google accounted for 65.7 percent of search traffic; Yahoo, 15.7; and Microsoft Bing, 13.9 (Bing powers Yahoo’s search results), according to comScore’s April 2011 U.S. Search Engine Rankings. But local search, much of which happens on mobile devices, increasingly bypasses the browser and search engines. More and more of it is happening in local-directory, news and mapping applications, where ads are served by third-party networks, some outside the control of the search giants. BizReport’s Helen Leggatt cites a separate comScore report on where search traffic and advertising dollars may be headed:
Over 17.3 million mobile subscribers accessed business directories from their devices during March of this year, found comScore. That figure represents 14% YoY growth… The number of people accessing business directories at least once a week from their mobile devices also rose – up 16% YoY.
As advertisers spend more on local search, expect them to spread more of it around on the third-party networks of choice for application builders. But don’t count out the search giants: Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will likely double down on acquiring these third-party networks and leverage their control of the OS (in the case of Google and Microsoft) to find creative ways to keep their hands on the advertising spend.