I’ve written before about the challenges of selling local online advertising and the difficulty of delivering a good local experience for end users. (and don’t even get me started about that most dreaded of all local advertising vehicles, phone books) So I was glad to see today’s announcement that Yahoo! will be partnering with Gannett’s sales force to peddle Y!’s inventory to local businesses. It’s also interesting that Yahoo will be offering ‘interest targeting’ as part of the inventory. That’s something that’s going to be more and more critical for publishers to provide to sophisticated ad planners/media buyers.
Whatever the economics of the agreed-upon Yahoo-Gannett deal, you can bet the numbers are a boatload better than if Yahoo had to put their own feet on the street to cater to local businesses. I recall my experience at AOL over a decade ago when their local sales force was integrated, separated, and re-integrated with the national sales team every 6 months or so. It was a complete mess.
Local businesses are by definition “people people” based on who their customers are. And in my experience, newspaper salespeople are also great relationship builders. Some might call them old school, old media, or some other uppity term, but the fact is that they know how to engage customers, brush off rejection, and ultimately close deals.
Yahoo! could use every boost it can get these days. Executed carefully, this partnership should provide one.