Colliding With The Social Web

American interest in getting more local should send a strong signal to marketers

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kick-off to summer travel. But with the economy still in decline, industry analysts see a continued trend shaping American travel patterns that will have repurcussions throughout the summer and should send strong signals to marketers in a variety of industries.

Reports indicate that Americans will reduce the amount of summer travel by air. During the Memorial Day weekend alone, air travel is set to decline by 1 percent and could set the pace for a 7 percent drop in travel by plane this summer.

The beneficiary of this decline in air travel are localities. According to a survey done by American Pulse, 27.4% of those survey are looking for a local get-away that does not require air travel. Many are in fact contemplating a series of day-trips and trying to minimize hotel stays whenever possible. This has some states and regions making a push for local tourism in an effort to keep wealth within their own communities and encourage people to rediscover the world closest to them, their friends and families.

Of course, this trend also sends a strong signal to marketers and business developers across many industries that going local may be a way to help take some of the sting of a prolonged economic downturn.

For example, local search companies and online advertisers, as well as those companies connecting people with local listings through GPS and other technologies, stand to help local businesses who are seeking to get their online act together. According to data from The Kelsey Group, a division of BIA, by 2013, local mobile ad revenue is expected to reach more than $3.1 billion, up from $160 million in 2008. Mobile search, which is an area local businesses can start to get engaged in now, will constitute a majority of that revenue at $2.3 billion.

What does this mean to local businesses? Essentially, more people are using their phones as a means for shopping (local and online merchants) as well as local business search. Companies are rapidly developing mobile coupons and text / sms campaigns to help drive commerce through mobile devices.

By connecting people to local offerings, businesses are more likely to build stronger word-of-mouth or viral initiatives to compliment their online marketing efforts. Overall, tapping into the online world can help a local business develop new revenue streams – but now the key is not just to be online, but to target your local consumers as well to address the renewed emphasis on Americans to stay close to home. Using mobile advertising and targeted online ads are two methods local businesses need to consider very seriously.

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