Frazier Miller, General Manager of Yahoo! Local, spoke yesterday here at the SMX Local & Mobile  conference in San Francisco.
It was very interesting to hear the take on local & mobile from one of Yahoo! Local’s top thought leaders. It was obvious that Frazier has a very tight grip on understanding what motivates consumers and where the trends may be headed in local/mobile evolution.
Some highlights of Frazier’s presentation included:
- Mention of how Yahoo Answers has incorporated a local component;
- How SearchMonkey could provide more compelling listings in SERPs;
- Need of users to be able to easily search government sites;
- Heavy interest at Yahoo in Events, which is why they purchased Upcoming  in late ’05;
- They consider Local Product Search to be the “holy grail” of local search;
- The convergence of Local and Social is compelling, although Yahoo feels it’s not yet been adequately addressed and there are needs for managing privacy considerations in the way that it ultimately gets implemented;
- The “hyper-local” trend is perhaps getting filled out by a number of niche players;
- Geotargeting will provide the next acceleration of ROI in advertising;
- Educated the audience on the “ROBO” acronym: “research online, buy offline”;
Frazier’s candidness was refreshing when he spoke openly about other companies’ services which he found to be highly compelling for local work. These included:
- Walkscore.com  – a service which helps users decide how difficult a walking route could be — something that’s highly useful to many during these gas-crunch times.
- Yelp  – the highly-popular business rating and directory site;
- Craigslist  – the well-known classifieds site;
- Facebook  – the growing social networking site;
What Yahoo! may be working on for the future:
- Better geotargeting capabilities for advertising;
- Expanding Ad Exchanges and Ad Networks – “making the local ad market”;
- Increasing merchant awareness — channel resellers are transforming sales teams to educate merchants about online marketing. Some of these include major IYPs such as Yellowpages.com, Yellowbook.com, and Idearc Superpages.com.
Frazier stated that there are reasons to believe that mobile search marketing may finally be arriving, despite past predictions of critical mass that were off-base. The devices and hardware have evolved, with Moore’s law reducing down the cost of the products. Connectivity rates and badwith have improved. And devices and carriers are both opening up for app developers, with the technology getting beyond just SMS.
Yahoo’s Blueprint platform for mobile is different from Google’s Android, and may be superior in terms of easing development. Yahoo’s motto for this is “write once, run anywhere”.
Based on Frazier’s presentation, I think it will be interesting to continue to watch what Yahoo! is developing and deploying in the Local Search space.