Interview: Dick O’Hare, CEO and Founder of Local Yokel Media, Explains Breakthroughs in Hyperlocal Targeting

Following on yesterday’s announcement from Local Yokel Media on the launch of the first hyperlocal online ad marketplace, we had a Q&A session with Dick O’Hare, CEO and Founder of Local Yokel Media.

Otilia Otlacan: You have recently launched Local Yokel Media – Congratulations! – the first hyperlocal online ad marketplace. What were the main drivers of this launch, what made you look into hyperlocal opportunities?

Dick O’Hare: With the tremendous growth of the Internet, consumers continue to migrate online for local information.  More local businesses are moving their advertising spend online, to follow this audience.  As a result, online local advertising is now a $16.1 Billion market and growing rapidly.  Meanwhile, “hyperlocal” content is booming—filling the editorial void left by the waning coverage from traditional local media organizations.  This valuable, community-level content presents a compelling, targeted advertising opportunity.  Research shows that 80% of consumer spending happens within 20 miles of home.  Local Yokel Media (LYM) focuses on those 20 miles (or less) to help local marketers reach only those communities within their immediate service area on publisher content those community audiences know and trust.  This level of granular ad targeting delivers “geo-contextual” relevance which drives overall ad performance and media efficiency.

Local Yokel Media is the Internet’s first hyperlocal online ad marketplace.  We are aggregating hyperlocal websites, local blogs and websites of community newspapers to empower marketers to reach granular, local geographies in contextually relevant content.  Hyperlocal campaigns can now be done efficiently and at scale through LYM’s unique platform.

Otilia Otlacan: Geotargeting comes in many flavors already and it’s been years that targeting by zip code is possible in many ad servers, networks and exchanges. How does a hyperlocal targeting compare to zip code targeting, and why would it yield better results for local businesses?

Dick O’Hare: The big difference between more “traditional” geotargeting and what Local Yokel Media is offering boils down to contextual relevance.  Zip code targeting through more traditional means does not deliver contextual relevance between the advertiser and the content the reader is consuming.  It is mainly executed through data overlays.  Content is the proxy for geography in our business model, therefore we deliver “geo-contextual” relevance to the advertising.  It’s all about local businesses reaching local audiences in their service area on local content those audiences know and trust.  We aim to deliver this at scale…all from one platform.  Our campaign data shows that this level of granular, local targeting in context can outperform more traditional geotargeting by multiples.

Otilia Otlacan: What can you tell us about how audience pools are formed in a hyperlocal targeting context? Take, for example, a typical employee who spends maybe 9 – 10 hours a day in location X (at work) and the rest of the day in location Y, some 20 miles distance from X.

Dick O’Hare: Industry research confirms that 80% of consumer spending occurs within 20 miles from home.  Local Yokel Media is all about focusing on those 20 miles for local businesses to communicate their ad message only to the communities within a short drive to their location or within their service area.  That said, from your question above, we mainly focus on where these audiences live (and work if work is within a close proximity).  We see different media consumption patterns with local media vs., say business media.  For example, we often see an increase in ad reception on the weekends when there is more leisure time to consume local media.

Otilia Otlacan: What other targeting options are available through LYM? Any word of advice for those tempted to go about setting targeting options in the same way they’d do it in a standard ad network that supports geotargeting?

Dick O’Hare: Our main targeting offering is hyperlocal targeting, but we also offer behavioral, demographic, zip code targeting, mobile and search engine marketing for advertisers looking for a broader solution.  As far as geotargeting through standard ad networks, that has rapidly become a commodity.  Local Yokel Media is aggregating highly valuable “geo-contextual” ad inventory that can perform better and is truly unique.  We are aggregating, organizing and monetizing this level of inventory and look to become the market specialist in hyperlocal ad inventory monetization.

Otilia Otlacan: I understand that LYM is already in use by a good number of publishers. What was their #1 feature request during the trial period?

Dick O’Hare: Publishers are looking for innovative ways to monetize their inventory to appropriate advertiser sets at more realistic, premium price points.  We are starting to deliver this for our early publishers and also offer them full control and transparency on the direct advertisers Local Yokel Media supplies to them.

Otilia Otlacan: What post-launch plans do you have for LYM? Is it possible that we will get to see it working with non-US publishers and advertisers?

Dick O’Hare: Our plan is to continue to scale LYM across the US market and build a rich, robust marketplace consisting of hyperlocal ad inventory in the “nooks and crannies” of the US DMA’s with thousands of advertisers leveraging this off one platform.  The US market will be our focus for the immediate future.

About Dick O’Hare
Dick O’Hare has been a digital media industry veteran for the past fourteen years with DoubleClick, AOL and Yahoo.  At Yahoo, Dick created and managed the Global Strategic Partnerships and Emerging Marketing Channels team to forge strategic partnerships with Yahoo’s top 25 global clients.  In addition, Dick and his team developed and executed monetization strategies for video, mobile and social media.

Prior to Yahoo, Dick was with AOL Media Networks where he managed sales and account management teams across six US sales regions.  Before joining AOL, Dick served as General Manager of the Business and Technology Network within  DoubleClick’s media business.

Dick also has over ten years of experience in the offline media industry at CMP Media.  While there, he was Publisher of Home PC Magazine, leading it to the #1 position in its category.  During his tenure, CMP Media went public and  later was sold to United News and Media.

Dick holds a BA in Economics from the College of the Holy Cross and resides in New Canaan, CT his wife Claire and three children.