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Yahoo readies Placemaker for local-aware content

Web publishers looking to add some local flavor--in the digital sense--to their content will have a new option from Yahoo called Placemaker

Yahoo is ready to introduce a new service that could let developers turn any piece of content into one that knows where it lives.

Placemaker will make its debut Wednesday at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose. It's Yahoo's latest addition to its ongoing work on making content on the Web more location-aware, which has already manifested itself in projects such as FireEagle and Yahoo GeoPlanet.

Developers who sign up for the Placemaker service can upload their Web pages to Yahoo for free and the service will comb the text of those pages for references to locations, said Tyler Bell, head of Geo Technologies for Yahoo. It's designed to add location-aware structured data to news articles, status updates, and ordinary Web pages in order to make them more relevant to a local audience.

For example, advertisers looking to target local areas often have to settle for picking the nearest Designated Market Area, an advertising concept that generally encompasses a large metropolitan area, such as the Bay Area. However, news articles about Sunnyvale, where Yahoo is headquartered, aren't necessarily relevant to residents 40 miles north in San Francisco, where CNET resides.

The tricky part is developing technology that's smart enough to know when the article is referring to Sunnyvale, Calif., or whether it's actually talking about Sunnyvale, Tex. Bell said Placemaker will be able to make those kinds of decisions on the fly.

The service will be available tomorrow. Yahoo has been making a big push around structured data over the last year, as shown through projects such as SearchMonkey.