Free, advertiser-supported Directory Assistance, launched six months ago by the likes of Jingle’s 1800Call411 and Infeeda’s 1800411metro, appears to be here to stay. Free DA’s emergence promises to have a significant impact on the $8 billion DA marketplace, which is roughly 1/3 mobile, 2/3 landline. It will also indirectly impact the market for local search and Internet Yellow Pages.
But will free DA mean higher volume or less? More money or less? And what’s the timeline before traditional directory assistance sees pricing pressure? Looking forward, how much time will it be before technology factors such as voice recognition, wireless and email coupon delivery, and text and video delivery play a convergence-like role? All these variables were the subject of debate at The Kelsey Group’s Drilling Down conference in San Jose.
George Garrick of Jingle Networks, the producer of 1800Free411, claimed to be sitting on research showing that 85 percent of consumers would rather hear a 15-second ad than pay $1 or $1.50 for ad-free directory assistance. Rather than eating into existing DA revenues, he made the case that Jingle (and others) was transforming it by switching to a targeted advertising model. “Users are making five times the number of DA calls than they used to,” he said.