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Comcast Media Pairs Yellow Pages, TV for Local Search

"Yellow Pages on TV," a new initiative from Comcast Media Center, has married two emerging ad trends: local search and interactive TV advertising. The offering will enable viewers of local and independent cable operators to search for local businesses with their digital remote.

The service will link viewers to local businesses and give them opportunities to watch longer-form videos on demand.

The new service, provided by interactive content provider FourthWall Media, also affords advertisers a number of reporting tools to track ad performance. The revenue potential is significant because of growing interest in local search, as well as the $15 billion that print Yellow Pages ads traditionally bring in.

The Case for Local Search

The business case for interactive local search ads has been well proven, first by Google online and more recently by social networks Facebook and Twitter. Local online advertising is expected to hit $14.2 billion by year's end, a 12% increase over 2008, according to a report and five-year forecast from Borrell Associates.

Interactive TV- not as well developed as search-ad technology - is also of interest to marketers, despite more limited options. Most have found television advertising less effective in the past two years, but are interested in exploring new ad formats and forms of video commercials, according to the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester Research.

In particular, marketers hope to be able to try out ads in online TV shows (65%), ads embedded in Video on Demand (VOD) (55%), interactive TVads (43%), and ads within the set-top-box menu (32%), the study found.

Comcast recently has been experimenting with more than one of these techniques. Its new VOD ad insertion platform went live in Jacksonville, Florida, last month, allowing for the dynamic insertion of ads into its VOD inventory. Using technology developed by software vendor BlackArrow, the system enables advertisers to insert fresh ads into VOD streams on the fly.

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