Roughly a year ago when we first started assessing opportunities in the local advertising market, we had the opportunity to create a location-based service.  We saw a number of companies such as Loopt and Brightkite who did a decent job of building a user base and feature set.  We saw an acquisition of Plazes, a very early location based service.  And we saw another few later entrants as well.  The conclusion we came to at the time was that we were too late if we wanted to build a basic location-based service.  With the recent announcement about Google Latitude, I'm really glad we didn't take that route now.

I still think that LBS is a big opportunity.  It is a component of a broad local advertising solution that will emerge over the next five years.  Google opted to both shut down one (Dodgeball) and build up another (Latitude) all within about a sixty day period.  Other major tech players… tech giants and mobile phone providers alike… will have their own location-based offering.  I actually think that LBS companies with traction will probably get acquired as long as they can stay alive in what is a fairly challenging funding environment.  But it seems like a tough slog to both add users and stand out in a crowded room.

Instead, we opted to focus on creating a location-based ad network, where we focus on helping location-based businesses (both small companies and large companies with lots of locations) find customers.  We launch in a Closed Beta in Austin next week… but our consumer web site will be fully available.  I'm sure it will have warts and all, but I know we'll be helping the local businesses who work with us.

If your Austin area local business needs more consumer traffic, contact me for details on joining our Closed Beta.