DMS ’10: Yext CEO Howard Lerman’s Top 10 Predictions

Yext CEO Howard Lerman, in the first of several keynotes at DMS 2010 in Dallas, says that “dozens of winners” will emerge in the local marketplace. Noting how fast technology has swarmed around local marketing, “it is basically the Jetsons we are looking at right now.”

Lerman used the keynote to throw out ten predictions. Among them: Directories will continue to drive the highest ROI for phone calls. He notes that Yext’s analysis shows that 562,000 calls made in January 2010, 113,198 resulted in transactions, for a ratio of 20.2 percent. IYPs such as SuperMedia’s ratio was the highest at 23.4 percent, which makes it 25.2 percent more likely to close than Google, he says. Google delivers a lot of volume, but “has the lowest likelihood of phone calls resulting in transactions,” he said.

Another prediction was that CityGrid will become the most important local advertising exchange. Its growth in phone calls in the last six months has been huge, he says. The average transaction ratio has been about 25 percent.

Lehman’s other 8 predictions:

1. Mapquest wlll become a key local discovery resource, leveraging off its 50 million unique visitors.

2. Patch is going to explode, and will have enormous synergies off of Mapquest, which is also owned by AOL. Patch already has 105,000 high quality listings.

3. Impulse buying will be hotter than ever, and Yellow Pages will seize a piece of the group buying pie.

4. Yelp will become the most important consumer resource tool, and will continue to spar with Google on how its content is used.

5. YP sales forces will grow revenues beyond advertising, with AT&T especially well positioned. Mobile website, rep management and video will lead the way, making up for the fact that “SEM is not high margin.”

6. Microsoft’s Bing will become second most important primary source of local advertising inventory.

7. The number of advertisers buying performance is going to peak. This growth won’t come from new advertisers; they’ll come from extracting more dollars from existing advertisers. The dollar spent will will rise. Eventually, one million advertisers will buy performance advertising, but we’re already at 600,00 to 700,000, he estimated.

8. Google tags will become the standard local advertising unit – a prediction that fits well with Yext’s imminent launch of low-priced YextTags. It is ironic that the company most responsible for performance based product will roll out flat rate product, Lerman noted. But Google sets the standard for advertising products.

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