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Marketing executives with Charles Schwab & Co. saw a promising trend in south Florida.

With three local businesses-Blockbuster Entertainment, Ryder Truck Rental and Sunbeam Corp.-leaving the area, thousands of soon-to-be displaced workers would be receiving lump-sum payments from their retirement accounts. It was money that needed investing elsewhere.

So the San Francisco-based discount brokerage found its way to Digital City South Florida, the local online media service.


The result was a three-month "micro-site" that launched in February on Digital City. Schwab also was promoted on the Sun-Sentinel's Digital Edition Web site.

`It's all local, local, local. It worked really well for them," said Cathy Stanton, field and marketing manager with Digital City South Florida.

As the Internet makes inroads into local markets, large national advertisers are finding viable ways to penetrate those markets online.

Last year, marketers spent $72 billion in local markets, according to a report by McCann-Erickson Worldwide. Local online ad spending, in comparison, was a paltry $5 million, Forrester Research said.


That's likely to grow considerably starting next year, Forrester believes.

Coca-Cola Co. on June 9 launches its "Incredible Summer" campaign on Digital City South Florida. Visitors can see what offers are available from promotion partners including Domino's Pizza and the Florida Marlins.

On Microsoft Corp.'s Seattle Sidewalk (, marketers including BMW of North America and Visa International are customizing messages to target Seattle residents.

A Visa International promotion reads: "It's everywhere you want to be in Seattle." BMW's theme changed to: "The ultimate driving machine and where to find it in Seattle."

For Prudential Real Estate Affiliates of Costa Mesa, Calif., a presence on Sidewalk will help it cut through the clutter of the Internet.

Prudential's Sidewalk site is very similar to the marketer's main home page, said Lyle Fuller, VP-interactive marketing.

"It defies you to determine, `are you really local, or are you national?"'

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