Local advertisers, aka SMBs (small and medium sized businesses), are increasing their online marketing budgets at dramatic rates.
In 2009, during the worst advertising recession since roughly Guttenberg, SMBs grew their online spending. A couple of studies say the increases were between 11% and26% in 2009, while shrinking the rest of their budgets. The social media activity of SMBs is also soaring-- roughly doubling in the last 12 months.
Why is this happening now?
-- Consumers are finding local information much more easily (Google, for instance, has really improved its local search capabilities)
-- Consumers are abandoning usage of other local media (when was the last time you actually used a physical yellow pages?)
-- Location based apps (fueled by mobile) are growing very rapidly
-- Advertisers are getting results
How long will this rapid growth continue?
-- For many years, since online is still only a fraction of the overall budgets (about 15-20%) of SMBs. I'd expect a significant majority of SMB budgets to migrate online.