In Depth

Column: Next Online Gold Rush? It’s Local, Baby

I’m going to make a prediction: The next big money-making venue for new-media producers is in local online video ads.

So all you Web producers, creators and videographers who want to add to your resumes, my advice is: Start pounding the pavement at your local shopping center. Hit up the real estate firms, the clothing boutiques, maybe even the shrinks. (Wouldn’t you rather see a short video of what your potential shrink looks like before you go lie down on that couch and start spilling the beans?)

Because your next client could be the farmers market or maybe even the bakery selling those awesome cherry chocolate chip cookies. You see, there’s a whole new realm of online video content that’s going to start bubbling up this year. You already know that network shows, YouTube and the water-cooler viral video of the moment are hot.

I’m here to tell you your local plumber is, too.

Consider this: Ad revenue from local online video will grow to $1.5 billion in 2012, up from $10.9 million last year, according to the Kelsey Group. What’s more, video ads will command about 11.6% of the online ad budgets of small and medium-size businesses by 2012.

Where is this money going to? To local listings, to the yellow pages of the Web. Because, let’s face it, are you still looking up a locksmith in the actual Yellow Pages book? I don’t even get the Yellow Pages anymore. If I needed to fix my back door, you bet I’d find that locksmith online. And you know what? I’d give my business to the locksmith who was easiest to find on the Internet. That locksmith probably also would be the one with a video ad.

The Kelsey Group says local online video is growing in part because of the emergence of video production companies that focus on mining these local opportunities, such as TurnHere or Spot Runner. That’s because there’s money to be made. Video ads for local online Yellow Pages are selling at about $3,000 to $5,000 each to small businesses, said local media research firm Borrell Associates.

So the gold rush in the online video economy could be starting not in Silicon Alley, nor in Silicon Valley, but in our own neighborhood.