Tag Archives: Internet Yellow Pages

Gannett’s Planet Discover on the Evolution of IYPs

When it was launched in 2004, Gannett’s Planet Discover was a pioneer in local search and later, the development of local online marketplaces. But it has lately had a lower profile, dating to a temporary mid-2007 mandate to focus on Gannett newspaper and broadcast properties. That mandate ended in mid-2008, and the company has since been aggressively going after new accounts both inside and outside of Gannett.

Today, the company, which is headquartered in Cincinnati and also maintains an office in Cedar Rapids, IA, provides directory, local search, events and marketplaces for nearly 100 Gannett properties. It also provides services for a wide range of non-Gannett properties. These include, most notably, CBS owned- and-operated stations, as well as McClatchy and Dow Jones community newspapers.

CEO David Lenzen tells us that the company’s directory product has especially evolved. In one installation, directory listings pull in content from CityGrid Media, such as ratings and reviews. The highly targeted content really helps “ramp up the sales effort” for Planet Discover’s partners, he says.

The modern directory actually has multiple facets to it, Lenzen notes. “We really don’t focus on it so much as an Internet Yellow Pages as an online local marketplace,” with coupons, etc. The way it has been configured it also works very well with various vertical skins. “We can easily create vertical marketplaces for a local market, including wedding, dining, and specialty automotive, for example,” he adds.

The company is now leveraging its development expertise to create native mobile apps, such as a Local News reader for Apple’s iOS and Android. The news reader is based on content that has already been ingested into the company’s seven-year-old Search Publisher.

Idearc’s EveryCarListed.com Debuts ‘All Video’ Car Listings

EveryCarListed.com, a 25 person car portal quietly acquired by Idearc in February, has formally rolled out its new look-and-feel. It includes an unprecedented effort to provide videos of every car on the site.

The site currently has two million car listings, with one million listings already attached to videos. The site will be “all video” by the end of the year.

The site also includes consumer reviews, auto news, and manufacturer video, but the differentiator is the push on the all video listings. Given the logistical difficulty of acquiring video for millions of car listings, the “enhanced” video is computer generated, patching together composite photos, and informed by vertical information numbers. The technology can use up to 32 pictures sent in by a dealer.

To my eyes, the video quality is as good as “real” video shot by videocams. There are no obvious cut-and-paste issues. The technology also enables customized audio, and a photo gallery.

The ECL site offers free basic listings, which it heavily emphasizes in marketing materials (although the other auto sites also have free, non-featured listings). Its primary business model is based on AutoTrader/Cars.com-like bronze/silver/gold monthly subscription packages for dealerships.

A top-of-the-line package in Los Angeles costs $2,600 per month and patches together all the synergies of the Idearc relationship. It includes the video enablement; featured listings on top of the page; a half page ad in the local Idearc (Verizon) Yellow Pages; a premium listing on Superpages.com; and two direct mail pieces a year, using Idearc Direct Mail. Dealers that pitch their service departments as well as their new and used cars will have their repair work covered under Verizon’s “SuperGuarantee” program.

The outreach to service departments, in fact, might be the best path in for Idearc sales people. Service departments tend to be better Yellow Pages customers. Otherwise, less than one percent of dealer marketing is typically aimed at Yellow Pages. per NADA.

Local.com Marks 10th Year; SuperPages Deal Expanded

Local.com, the public company that started life as Interchange Corp., observed its 10th anniversary last week, complete with a red balloon-festooned party at its headquarters in Irvine, CA, and an upgrade of its three-year-old, local ad distribution agreement with Idearc’s Superpages.com.

There are, of course, a lot of pieces to Local.com, which has evolved right along with the local ecosystem. It includes the local directory/city guide sites, the outside sales force selling “Local Promote,” the networks, a mobile site, an SMS site, a UK site, and its growing “Local Connect” private label directory service (formerly PremierGuide).

The expanded agreement with SuperPages illustrates how some of the pieces can be leveraged. Under the deal, Superpages.com’s performance-based and subscription advertisers now receives preferred placement on Local.com’s 700+ regional sites. The expanded agreement also includes distribution of enhanced content from Superpages.com advertisers including ratings and reviews and links to enhanced local business profile pages and videos.

I’ve often pondered CEO Heath Clarke’s vision. It goes like this: “Local is really big. If you scale it right, you don’t need to be number one or two to make a go of it – you just need to get a few percentage points, and then leverage it.”

‘Dividing 11 Points, What is Your Preference for Print vs. IYP?’

Simmons Market Research Bureau called me at home on Saturday morning as part of a broad canvassing of Yellow Pages consumers in San Diego County.

After some preliminary qs, the surveyor asked me to walk over to where I keep my Yellow Pages (downstairs, in an old gun closet). I lugged six Yellow Pages out of the closet, put on my glasses, and read the tiny numbers off the spine to surveyor, who confessed that 20 percent of people hung up at that point. Not very many.

Next, I was asked the last time I used each directory, and for what reason (in my case, restaurant coupons a few weeks ago). Then I was asked about my usage of some Internet directories, some of which are mainstream, including all the online versions of the big YPs, Google and Yahoo. Some, however, were just barely alive or inactive in my area, leaving me to scratch my head why they were included.

Interestingly, the survey didn’t ask me about sites where I actually get listings from: Yelp, Angie’s List, Mojopages, InsiderPages, CitySearch, Servicemagic –the kinds of places where someone like me sometimes finds listings. It also didn’t include local independent directories for my area that I enjoy using.

The best question: “Dividing 11 points between Internet Yellow Pages and Print Yellow Pages, what is your preference?”

How would YOU answer that? 5-6? 6-5? 7-4? 8-3? 9-2? 10-1? 11-0? Let us know!

HelloMetro Rides Google’s City Name Keywords

One of the homespun stories of interactive local media is the rise of HelloMetro, a city guide company that started in 1999 as an entrepreneurial effort in Louisville, KY, and has since grown to include 15 staffers, including five direct salespeople.

The company, which has hundreds of Hello(City name) city guides, made $7.5 million in 2008. It is on track to make $9 million or more in 2009, says CEO and Founder Clark Scott.

A key to the company’s success has been its use of Google AdWords for “pretty much anything that mentions the name of a city,” says Scott. The company started with a $100 budget for Google, and now spends $350,000 per month. Scott says he tries to add “a little more” to the Google budget every month.

Content-wise, each of the HelloMetro sites include all the rudiments of a standard city guide, including Yellow Pages listings, events, weather, dining and movies. Lately, it has been bulking up more on original content –a strategy that other geodomain-oriented sites have also focused on.

The content efforts include mapping out neighborhood info on a Google map, and hiring 15 journalists to cover their local markets. The journalists are mostly out-of-work newspaper reporters, which are not hard to come by. The reporters typically get paid for 20-25 hours a week. Scott says he plans to keep hiring more.

“We picked out our largest cities to give us the biggest bang for a buck,” says Clark, noting they add a human-but-professional touch to the site that can’t be equaled by remote reporters, or most bloggers. Focus areas for articles include what Scott calls “the four corridors of content”: local attractions, restaurants, events and nightclubs (a little).

Nightclub and social information will never be the focus of the site, however, says Scott. HelloMetro’s audience is somewhat more mature than other sites, he notes. “We don’t want to be MetroMix.” Indeed, users are typically in their 30s and 40s, with perhaps 60 percent coming from in-market, and 40 percent coming in as tourists or business travel. (The ratio of national traffic is higher, however, in tourist meccas such as San Diego and Orlando).

The company has also branched out into mobile sites, which all use a Hello (Cityname).mobi address. On an aggregated basis, the mobile sites are receiving 250,000 unique visitors per month. While the site has some Google Mobile ads, it hasn’t begun selling its own yet.

Latest News on ILM:08, Santa Clara (Nov.19-21)

We’re just about ready to go with Interactive Local Media: 08, which is Nov.19-21 in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley. It should be a very important, game-defining event – and the first one for The Kelsey Group in the new BIA Advisory Services era (they acquired Kelsey last week, adding resources and smarts to the team).

Previously, we announced a lot of the lineup, with hand-picked execs from Google, Yahoo, Angie’s List, ServiceMagic, Comcast, NBC, TurnHere, Adify, Centro, PointRoll, IAC, Citysearch, Outside.in, Sensis, Topix, Praized, PegasusNews, Voodoovox, ComScore, Yodle, DoneRight, Metrix4Media, LiveDeal, Merchant Circle, CityVoter and Institute for the Future.

Here are some new highlights. Our opening keynoter is local search innovator Mark Canon, the ex Switchboard/AOL Search/Autobytel exec who now runs Yell.com. Mark will share his authoritative insights on local, vertical and directory/search, and the differences between the U.S. and international markets.

We have also developed a great “pre-conference” session with Andrew Shotland, the former NBC and InsiderPages exec who has become “Mr. Local SEO Guide.” Andrew is providing his insider tips on Search Engine Marketing.

From Yahoo’s newspaper consortium, we’re adding former Tribune Interactive exec Mike Silver, who represents the newspapers in all this. He joins Yahoo’s Lem Lloyd on the podium to talk about what we’ve learned so far.

On the SMB SuperForum, we’ve added Jeff Stibel from Web.com, who will be keynoting the mega-session. We’ve also added John Keister from Marchex; Travis Fore from Network Solutions Inc; and Matt Howard from SMBLive (an especially interesting broadband service).

On the Video Superforum, we’ve landed Brian McCarthy from Citysearch, Peter Bowen from SeeSaw Networks, Glenn Pingul from Mixpo, Diaz Nesamoney from Jivox and Steve Espinosa from eLocal Listing. We’re also adding an out of home twist –out of home is a huge growth area in local advertising – via John McMenamin of Ripple TV.

We’re also pleased to have lured Pieter Grasdijk from The Netherlands to talk about ilocal; and Josh Herman from Acxiom’s Info Base to talk about local audience segmentation.

Wrapping things up with “all thoughts local” are three of our smartest friends: Ethan Stock from Zvents, Jennifer Dulski from Center’d and Craig Hagopian from V-Enable.

Throughout the whole thing, we’re running state-of-the-art, and really fun iPhone and video demos, and even running some contests, with the audience voting via laser pen (yours to keep). See you in Santa Clara? Here’s the link to register.

DMS ’08 Keynote: Briggs Ferguson, President, Idearc Internet

Former Citysearch President Briggs Ferguson, who took the helm at Idearc Internet and its Superpages.com flagship about five months ago, said during a keynote at Kelsey’s DMS show in Atlanta that he sees tremendous potential for the Yellow Pages industry. “It should be much bigger than it is today. At the very least, we get past it as an $8 billion industry. We should see $10 billion online alone. (The whole industry should pull in) the $20-$25 billion range.”

Ferguson cautioned that the industry has some major challenges to get to such lofty levels. Among them: How to make sure that YP advertisers get a high volume of leads; lead quality; and standardization. “As an industry, we have to get into a genuine lead mindset.” Re standardization, the Yellow Pages industry is suffering through the same issues as the United States did during the industrial revolution, he said.

The gap between online and print monetization also looms large. “Print YP monetizes at $1.00 a lead. The local search side monetizes at 20 cents,” he estimated. “We need information and data that can move from one box to another box in such a way that can happen very quickly. Without it, it creates an enormous drag on the entire system.”

Online features also need to be intelligently applied. He noted that maps are often inappropriately applied, and aren’t always necessary. Moreover, the meta data that comes with listings is very inconsistent. While the incorporation of ratings has been an overall plus for online Yellow Pages, “they haven’t had the impact on the industry that you’d expect.”