Everything Geo: The Language of Local Online Commerce

    October 11, 2002

Local online commerce is going to be huge. According to The
Kelsey Group
, local advertising revenues are expected to
reach about $50 billion by 2006. Like all big trends, this one
has its own lingo. Here are a few of the buzzwords you may hear
in the coming months. All of them have the “geo” prefix, derived
from the word “geography” or “earth”. There’s very little written
on this subject, so please be aware that these definitions are
my OWN interpretations of various articles and resources.


As you might guess, this is the physical location of an individual, usually a web surfer or Internet user. This term is included as a point of interest — who knew there were companies that provide geolocation services, to pinpoint and identify certain groups of people on the Internet? There are businesses that need this kind of information for whatever reason, such as restricting access to websites based on physical location, monitoring criminal activities, stuff like that. Here are some geolocation links: http://www.i18ngurus.com/docs/1004514499.html


This is advertising targeted toward consumers who live in certain geographic location, which can be as broad as a country or as narrow as a zip code. The value of geotargeting to local commerce is huge — regional advertisers can now be sure that only local eyeballs will see their ad.

For example, car dealers can promote convertibles to folks in sunny climates, while people in snow country may get ads for 4-wheel drive SUVs. Geotargeting technology is still being developed, but most current methods rely on the surfer’s I.P. address or zip code. In the future, more precise targeting will be available as more user data is gathered and detailed user profiles are created. For a more detailed discussion of geotargeting, see “Geotargeting Delivers For Local Business”, http://geolocal.com/Articles/geotargeting.htm


This is information provided to a company about online users who use their product or service. Think of it as the product delivered by companies who provide geolocation services. Companies can then use this info to make timely and informed marketing decisions.


As defined by The Kelsey Group, geocommerce is “the use of the Internet to facilitate commerce among small to medium- sized enterprises (SMEs).” In essence, geocommerce is the ability to combine the new technology with traditional advertising. It gives SMEs the tools and utilities needed to leverage the global Internet, and traditional local media to geographically target local users.

Well that’s quite a mouthful, but it any way you look at it, geocommerce is where the money is. In 2000, this translated into a local media market of $33 billion dollars spent by small businesses on print Yellow Pages, newspapers, Web sites, banners, direct mail, coupons and other locally targeted advertising and promotional media.

“Small businesses will continue to adopt new electronic media as providers offer greater geotargeting options with proven results,” said Neal Polachek, senior vice president, research and consulting for The Kelsey Group. “This means that businesses will be able to target online promotional messages to consumers in the select geographic areas of the market where they want to grow their businesses-whether worldwide or within five miles of their location.”


This is a new technology, so new that I could find only a few references that related to marketing (the others were about weather and criminal profiling). Geoprofiling combines traditional geotargeting with Web user profiling. It’s a multi-dimensional approach that results in a more accurate pinpointing of geographic location than you would get from any one of the usual geotargeting methods alone.

It works by gathering data from web surfers, who can leave plenty of clues about geographic location during normal online activities: requests for driving directions or weather conditions; certain search engine queries, especially those that include city names; local entertainment information such as movie listings, sports schedules, concerts; requests for local business guides and other regional sites.

Lest the privacy police become alarmed, the profile collection systems are designed so that individual users remain anonymous. And because all of the data is either inferred or deduced, there’s no way to tie it to names and addresses. With its promise of precision and anonymity, geoprofiling offers a glimpse into the future of localized online marketing. For more info about geoprofiles (and to find more “geo” words), visit the Quova website at: http://www.quova.com/services/geoprofile.html


Finally, there’s GEOLOCAL, the word I chose to represent my “brand” so to speak. Geolocal — “local earth.” It seemed to perfectly represent my focus on using the Internet to promote business locally. Remember, the world is global, but our lives our local. Visit www.geolocal.com and stay geo- tuned …

Sharon Fling is the author of “How To Promote Your Local Business On the Internet”, and publisher of “Local Business Today”, an ezine that gives business owners tips, tools and resources for targeting local customers. Subscribe today and get a free ebook information, visit http://www.geolocal.com or send any email to: mailto:subscribe@localbizpromo.com