There aren't many things anymore that Yahoo can claim to do better than Google, or so it seems. But one area of advertising has Yahoo in the lead. Its forced Google to boost the stakes.
Yahoo has had a Local Ad Unit that helps small business advertise to consumers just in their immediate area. Google has had local business listings but no advertisement. They just launched a Local Business Center. (Quick little Youtube video here.)
The concept of local ads is really sound. By having more targeted searches businesses can reach out to people who actually might come to their store. The search engines win because a.) its better to have lots of little clients paying you for marketing consistently then one or two big deals and b.) the search engine will get known for having accurate local results that people are generally looking for. Everybody wins.
The new Google Local Business Center looks pretty spiffy. For as low as $20 a month you can advertise to clients in your area, there's a 30-day free trial and you get awesome statistics to back it up. So where's the catch? Yeah, the new Local Business Center is only open to San Diego and San Fransisco. Want to know when local ads will be available in your state? You can fill out a form (oh look, instant market research) and wait to find out.
So, on one hand, Google will probably do their local ads bigger and better, just to show-up Yahoo. But since the majority of the world doesn't live in two cities in California, we might be stuck working with the ugly step-sibling for a little while.
Would you use local ads for your business on a search engine? If so, which one?