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September 27, 2006

Problems with Location based Search Marketing in the UK

The strongest growth in search marketing in the US has been in location based advertising. All the main search relevance advertising channels, Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing (was Overture) and Microsoft Search Marketing offer this service.

If a business offers a service in a specific geographic area it makes sence for their Adverts to show only to searchers who are in the area.
The searcher sees only adverts that are relevant to their query and some will be local. If a plumber bids on local cities in the West Midlands and someone from Coventry sees thier advert the word Coventry will appear under the display url. So this combines the advantages of relevance advertising, displaying only when the user is searching on the subject, with the Yellow Pages.

When I search here at the University and find location triggered Adwords the location shows as Warwick. The University is actually on the edge of Coventry but this is understandable. When I do the same from my Coventry home from a fixed IP ADSL broadband link it shows up as London!

Why is this? It turns out to be a limitation of the BT wholesale ADSL network. Their backbone ATM network can only resolve an IP address location dowm to three central hubs nationwide. Since BT’s ADSL has the majority of the UK’s broadband connections this is bad news for fixed line location based search marketing.

The Cable competition, Telewest and NTL, now combined as one joint company, do provide the correct location information down to the City and Town. (I am an NTL customer with their Analog TV service but unfortunately they will probably never upgrade my area to digital and offer broadband cable modems.)

Google Local and competitors will allow promotion alongside their Maps.
This will still work and allows users to look up restaurants, etc., where they plan to travel to.

True location based marketing in the UK will probably be delivered using mobile devices such as PDAs and smartphones as these really do need to know your location at all times to connect calls.

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