"A lot of times when people are looking for something, they want to do it on a local level...This is a core search promise," said Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer Web products, who helped build the service with a team of engineers from Google's New York office.Google isn't the only one doing local searches, though. MSN, Yahoo, CitySearch, and AskJeeves are also working on local search technologies.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google is giving prominence to local search at a time when it's one of the most hyped areas of development in the industry. Financial analysts and industry executives say geographically targeted search listings are prime real estate for local advertising, an estimated $12 billion annual business in the United States. In 2004, less than $50 million of that market will go toward ads related to local Net searches, but over time, the dollars will find their way to the virtual world, analysts say.