Yahoo! Local Talks Merchant Offerings

Merchants that take out enhanced listings on Yahoo! tend to improve their impressions and clicks by 2X, and increase their all-important ranking on the page, said Yahoo! Local GM Paul Levine, in a Small Business Commando Tele-Seminar that also featured Kelsey Group’s Matt Booth (yes, I helped).

Levine said there is nothing mysterious about the relationship between rankings and buying enhanced listings. The inclusion of custom information in the profile, including photos, custom tag lines etc. simply make many listings more attractive for consumers. In fact, Yahoo! is emphasizing its wide array of integrated social tools (Flickr,, etc.) as a major differentiator.

“It is an opportunity for merchants,” said Levine. “The more they participate, the more likely they are to be on the first or second page” of listings. “The onus is on the merchant to get the message out. Consumers want to find what they are looking for quickly,” he added.

AgendiZe: Multi-Platforms Boost IYP Ads

If Internet Yellow Pages users can “store” advertiser information where they like, they’ll use them much more often, according to interesting research by “Click-to-Save & Share” vendor AgendiZe.

The AgendiZe platform, in use by True Local, YPG of Canada, Bermuda Yellow Pages, Gotya of Austria, Scaret in Sweden and QDQ Media of Spain, enables consumers to cut-and-paste ads from IYP Web sites to Instant Messaging, SMS, Desktop notes, personal information managers, printers, Skype Out VoIP voice calls, or email. Recently, social networking functionality was added to the service, giving it some Web 2.0 flair. For instance, users can freely exchange reviews, ratings and embedded coupons.

According to company literature, the use of additional platforms boosts advertising recall by 700 percent and conversion (i.e. calls and store visits) by 25 percent. The claims are impressive enough, at least, to convince investors this Spring to provide a new round of roughly $1.9 million (1.5 million Euros).

Topix Provides Localized Ads via ShopLocal

Topix, the news aggregator owned by Tribune, Gannett and (probably) McClatchy, is teaming up with ShopLocal to distribute its retail ads to users on hyperlocal basis. ShopLocal, a provider of onliner circulars and other local ad services, is owned by the same consortia. “They have the pricing information and we have the impressions,” said Mike Markson, Topix’s VP of Business Development.

The first customer for the service is WalGreen’s, which has 5,000 drugstores around the country, and frequently has different promotions for different locations. The ads, which have been branded as “Smart Media” by ShopLocal, are sold on a premium CPM basis.

Initially, the ads will be served by zip code to users of Topix’s local news aggregations. More than 50 percent of Topix’s seven million unique visitors access local news. Eventually, Markson says the service may be expanded to reach all its users, since Topix can identify users by location, whether or not they are checking out “Tallahassee news,” “The World Cup,” or “Diabetes.”

DSL Surpasses Cable Modem

DSL subscribers have surpassed cable modem subscribers, according a survey by The Pew Internet & American Life Project. Pew Director Lee Rainie, speaking June 29 at The Media Giraffe conference at The University of Massachusetts in Amherst, said it was clear by Pew’s fall 2005 survey that DSL had taken over the top spot. The primary reason was related to the telcos heavy discounting of DSL plans compared to cable modems. Some services are now available for as low as $16.95 per month, while cable is typically above $44.

While DSL leads cable modem, the usage habits of DSL and cable modem users is largely undifferentiated, said Rainie – except for the coincidental factor that people who are connected at cable’s faster speeds tend to be heavier users of Internet services, such as general news and hyper-local services. For instance, 43 percent of the U.S.’s 87 million broadband users use the Internet as their primary source for news, compared to 35 percent of the general population.

A few years ago, one would have thought that a telco-product would provide strong synergies with Yellow Pages, VoIP and other services. The reality is that most telcos have turned over their front page to Yahoo or MSN. While the telcos share in the proceeds from premium services such as music subscriptions, neither of those portals are pushing telco products. If nothing is done, the lost opportunity for Yellow Pages and VoIP with DSL could be compounded further as the telcos begin introducing their IPTV platforms.

HarvestInfo: Newspapers Seeking ‘Federated Search’

Newspapers are increasingly seeking out “federated search” solutions that can search and crawl all forms of their content, including display, classifieds, various feeds, editorial and archives, according to Catherine Kelly, President of HarvestInfo, a vendor to newspapers.

“We’re starting to hear the term ‘federated search’ pop up from different newspapers, without any prompting,” says Kelly, who was recently promoted from CTO. “They say ‘we have six search boxes’” and want to clean it up. Kelly says the papers also want to stop isolating their shopping content from classifieds and display.

HarvestInfo’s federated search unites its suite of five shopping and search-oriented verticals (and a sixth vertical, services-based directory, coming in Q3). Currently, 30 of its 300 newspaper clients have implemented some form of federated search. “The hardest part of it is the integration of the content, and bringing it all together,” Kelly told The Local Onliner.

‘First’ Auto Dealer Mashup Launches

Local auto dealers aren’t being found by Google. And their TV and print ads are largely invisible to a generation that TIVOs their television viewing, and doesn’t read newspapers.

That will change, if Jim Bonfield succeeds with what he calls “the first auto dealer mashup.” Bonfield, a veteran business development executive with The Sacramento Bee and Travidia, has formed Eyeball Farm Interactive, a company that puts together advertiser mashups for local verticals (and is a client of Krasilovsky Consulting).

To date, Eyeball has launched the auto mashup, Local Offers, in partnership with Intelligent Direct Marketing, a leading, Sacramento-based direct marketing agency for the automotive industry. More than 70 dealers around the U.S. will be running by the end of June. Next up will be launches of retail furniture outlets, currently in beta, and restaurants.