ReachLocal announced  today that they’ve formed a strategic alliance with Google to become an authorized Adwords reseller. Kevin Heisler at SEW reports  that this will give them a leg up on competitors in local search who won’t benefit from the same status in the Google ecosystem.
ReachLocal also sells local ads into Yahoo!, MSN, Ask, AOL, and my old company, Superpages.com.
I was privileged to be given a tour of the ReachLocal offices here in Dallas back in September, and I was pretty impressed with what I saw. ReachLocal has proven themselves to be highly effective at selling ads directly to local businesses, and they work primarily as an agency for those small companies, enabling them to easily get into multiple directories and websites. The centralized reporting they provide to those small businesses is also very useful, allowing businesses to easily compare ad effectiveness and referral/conversion rates across many different places.
ReachLocal’s training program for their reps is particularly clever, compared to what I’ve seen going on within major YP companies. I can’t reveal due to nondisclosure, but their methods really effectively prepare reps for the sorts of things they need to be able to do in order to communicate to a small businessman in his own language.
Others have reported that ReachLocal’s Adwords Reseller status sorta puts IYPs “on notice”, since selling directly to small businessmen has traditionally been the territory of yellow pages companies. But, ReachLocal was already a really big blip on yellow pages companies’ radar screens for their competitive ability to make sales and because of “poaching” of sales reps from the YPs.
ReachLocal is the sort of agency that YPs view with heavy distrust, and consider to be “coopetition” — “frenemies”, if you will, since they need and want the sales that ReachLocal can accomplish while being a bit afraid of just how facile the company is at maneuvering compared with them.
ReachLocal has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last two years, and have been industriously opening local sales offices throughout the country (check out the hiring section of their website just for an idea). This local sales presence is exactly the sort of thing that Google looks to leverage with this deal.
ReachLocal is operating in something of a niche market, but it’s a really huge niche market if that’s not an oxymoron. Local advertising continues to represent a gigantically unrealized opportunity, and companies which can effectively translate the online ad medium for small businesses stand to be able to really capitalize on that revenue potential.