After helping popularize automated ad sales on the Web, the Internet-search giant is quietly turning to a lower-tech tool -- phone calls -- to compete in the hot market for local business advertising.
in a new story today, citing people familiar with the matter. The effort includes an office in Tempe, Ariz., with around 100 sales representatives, one of these people said.
So far, only a fraction of local businesses advertise online, the story says. BIA/Kelsey, a local-media advisory firm, estimates that local businesses will spend about $20 billion online this year, a figure that could reach more than $35 billion by 2014.
Google's effort comes as Gannett pushes forward with its participation in the Yahoo newspaper consortium. In that venture, GCI representatives sell ads to local businesses on the web portal's websites as well as those of GCI's local U.S. newspapers and TV stations. GCI announced that deal in July, after it had been first reported here on Gannett Blog.