Local.com

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I’ve been thinking more about the future of the web, and I’m convinced what’s coming is not just another phase or version, but finally the real deal. Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 are going to be looked back on as alpha and beta versions of the real Web which is finally upon us. Techies refer to it as the semantic web, which is going to be a big part of it, but ultimately it’s going to come down to making money for businesses. Every enterprise out there is finally understanding the importance of engaging the online medium and utilizing the communities and tools built over the past decade that have captured the attention and time of the consumer. There’s a really cool site I’ve found that’s seeming to capitalize on this opportunity… fittingly enough it’s called Local.com

Local combines the worlds of the big local sites out there, namely Citysearch.com, Yelp.com, Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com, all of which Local.com is partnered with. It’s essentially a 1 stop shop for finding local businesses and services.

The Local.com experience is incredible. It acts like a local yellowpages, and yet so much more. It automatically picks up what city you’re in based on your IP address and then generates a list of local restaurants, local reviews, local coupons, local favorites, and even local traffic and local weather. I find it to be incredibly valuable, especially for anyone moving to a new city. The local search feature is awesome too, as it brings up a list of nearby brick and mortar businesses. I typed in ‘groceries’ and got a great list of small hole in the wall grocers in my area.

This stuff is fascinating to me because it’s paving the way for a real business model on the Internet. With local businesses beginning to build a web presence, new web services will be able to track all consumer purchases, not just those made online, and evolve the Internet from the CPC (cost per click) model pioneered to a CPA (cost per affiliate) model in which web services monetize by taking a cut off consumer purchases. To make this work, however, local businesses are going to have to integrate their system in with a player like Local.com so that consumers can easily generate coupons and redeemable points. When this occurs, coupled with the proliferation of mobile technologies, the process will be seamless. You’ll find discounts in real time on your phone as you walk around through whatever web service you use. Then’ll you show up at the store, pick out what you want, and validate at the checkout counter with your iPhone… and boom you get your discount that easy.

Portals like Local.com, as well as the obvious Google, Ebay, Amazon, soon to be Marketplace, and the one everybody is ecstatic about… (check out CheapTweet and TwtQpon… wow!), is what will pull local businesses into the mix, incentivizing them to offer deals, because they know it’ll result in more long-term converting customers. And the more local businesses interact and engage with the community, the more popular they will become and the more feedback they’ll gain on bettering they’re products. And consumers who engage will win big by finding discounts and deals constantly.

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