TrueLocal Head Jake Baillie Leaves

It is the end of the year, and the executive turntable is spinning a little faster. Today, it was TrueLocal Head Jake Baillie’s turn to announce his departure. TrueLocal,
a spin-off from GeoSign, provides unique, local company URL information for Internet Yellow Page and others. The company has hired an executive search firm, and will likely turn to a seasoned sales, data and organization person.

Baillie says he is leaving, along with several other members of the 36 person company, to launch an incubator company funded by GeoSign head Tim Nye. “My strength is in growing a business,” he says. Baillie adds that TrueLocal is meeting its goals, but he can’t see running it as it becomes an enterprise with hundreds of employees.

The company, in fact, has embarked on an effort to break free of its dependence on licensing its data. It is currently attempting to sell local advertisers directly. For the past couple of months, it has been working with a 3 person telemarketing firm that has sold several hundred ads on a test basis. Just last week, Baillie apparently decided to upgrade the effort and has advertised, via LinkedIn, for a VP of sales. “In 2007, our entire growth plan revolves around our marketing department,” he noted in the ad.

Greenman Steps Down as RHD Digital Head

R.H. Donnelley Senior VP of Digital Strategy Innovation and Products Simon Greenman confirmed today that he is stepping down and likely to be replaced by Sean Green, 36, who was promoted to VP of Strategy and Business Development in October. Greenman says that he basically declined to relocate from Denver to RHD headquarters in Cary, NC. After a brief sabbatical, Greenman says he will look for new executive positions in the business. He can be reached at sgreenman@gmail.com .

“It’s been a wild three years, starting on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange,” says Greenman. We just launched a new site, and really helped position Dex and RHD as true local search players that can keep adding the right features.”

He noted that his tenure had a number of notable highlights, including the introduction number of “groundbreaking SME products, including Dex Web clicks and deals with Google and Yahoo and the acquisition of Local Launch” to accelerate online sales. RHD’s acquisition of Dex – and its appreciation of Dex’s progressive innovative nature –in itself was a highlight, he says.

Internet Still Lags as Word of Mouth ‘Engine’

The Internet, email and instant messaging are great ways to jumpstart word of mouth “conversations.” But just four percent of word of mouth conversations (which are just short of a “lead”) are ultimately passed off via email, and three percent are passed off via Instant Messaging. Another one percent start the discussion via chat rooms and blogs. By contrast, an overwhelming 70 percent of conversations occur Face to Face and 19 percent occur over the phone. (Face to Face is “local,” right?)

The research comes from The Keller Fay Group, a unit comprised of veterans from Roper polling and other firms. Keller Fay surveys 100 consumers a day, seven days a week – 36,000 consumers every year — on the types of communication they use for word of mouth communications. The age range is 13 to 69.

Keller Fay’s Jon Berry says that the Internet is a “really important source of what people refer to” when they are talking about buying something – a good precursor activity. “It is right up there with television,” he said. Actually, it is a little short of TV: Eleven percent to nine percent.

Adicio: The ‘Un-Yahoo/Monster in Recruitment

Newspapers have always been a pied piper kind of industry, where everyone follows the lead of a few influentials. Right now, the pied pipers are whistling for the recruitment partnerships offered by Yahoo HotJobs or Monster.

There are definite merits in working with Yahoo or Monster. By doing so, newspapers gain access to their tools, national networks, and overall sense of momentum. But Adicio (formerly CareerCast), the “last” independent recruitment vendor and network, argues that newspapers shouldn’t give up their autonomy by going with a pure play.

It is a myth that newspapers can’t have state-of-the-art tools and participate in a meaningful national network while retaining their independence, says Terry Baker, Adicio’s VP of Business Development. Baker’s position, not surprisingly, is that newspapers are taking the risk that Monster or Yahoo may end up holding all the cards five years down the line if they make a “partnership” pact with them today.

Washington Post Co. Bails Out of B2B

If newspapers are to grow, they’re going to have to leverage their local, regional and national credibility to reach into advertiser segments where they don’t have much of a presence today. This means B2B and SME.

But somewhere, it is written that newspapers can’t do B2B. After flirting with job fair services (BrassRing), and vertical pubs, most newspapers have stopped looking beyond their traditional lines of business. The most they’ll consider are new slices of traditional vertical markets (“Entertainment,” “Home Improvement”)

This week we have a new case study, as The Washington Post Co sold off of its Post Newsweek Tech Group to 1105 Media in Chatsworth, CA. The division includes FOSE Government Computer News, Washington Technology, Government Leader and Defense Systems. Also included is FOSE, the annual information technology convention.

HopStop Pushes Transit as ‘Urban MapQuest’

The power of road mapping and directions sites like MapQuest and Yahoo Maps is now being channeled by HopStop, a New York-based startup providing the same type of complete info for walkers and subway and bus strap holders in major cities. In addition to standard mapping and direction info, the site hosts city guides and enables users to share tips on construction delays, rate various lines, and so forth.

The ad-supported site is being financed by IDT Ventures, a VC firm. It launched in January 2005, and has been syndicated on a co-branded basis to The New York Post and AM New York. It now claims 750,000 unique visitors per month – 95 percent in New York.

The site has had some agency support for nearby businesses and urbanite brands, and its advertiser roster now includes Wachovia Bank, New York Times, Volkswagen and Dewers Scotch. Wachovia, for instance, uses the site to promote a $50 metro card to customers opening new accounts at branches next to subway stops. In addition, Amex is using the site to promote its InNewYork imprint.

IAC Dances Fine Line With AskCity/CitySearch

IAC’s Ask.com rolled out AskCity this week in a bid to use IAC’s content to differentiate itself from Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. The site, which succeeds AskLocal, proves to be an excellent local research tool and effectively integrates listings, reviews and other content from IAC sites such as CitySearch and evite, as well as non-IAC sites (It is a little weird, however, that AskCity is not the URL, but rather a sub-site within Ask).

Remarking on the launch, Ask CEO Jim Lanzone, in an interview with Om Malik, noted that “local is very important in search. It’s a top five category for us” represents 10 percent of all Ask searches. With the addition of IAC’s proprietary content, Ask can really present a human element that competitors like MSN and Yahoo aren’t doing. “Our research showed that they rely too much on maps and gimmicks like fly-overs, have limited content, require too many steps to transact, and have a lack of coherence between various the local products they’ve all created,” he said.

Still, AskCity’s launch raises a series of logical questions. Won’t the launch of AskCity cause significant cannibalization from CitySearch? Isn’t it time to rollup CitySearch? While one is a “search engine” and the other a “destination,” isn’t that becoming a fine line, circa late 2006?