True Local to Monetize 3.8 Million URL Database

TrueLocal has amassed a database of 13 million local businesses, including 3.8 million local URLs, and is now ready to aggressively sell advertising on its local search engine, according to company president Jake Baillie.

Up to now, the company’s revenue has largely come from six figure license deals with online directories, including Verizon SuperPages and Amazon’s A9. But it is now focused on pushing its own advertising via an independent sales channel and will activate it within “the next sixty days,” according to Baillie.

For starters, the sales channel is likely to push hardest on direct mail. “We have their listing info. Hello DM!” said Baillie.

The Ontario-based company was spun off from GeoSign in late 2005. It has 32 programmers and developers, with eight added in the past several months alone. The employee count is rounded off with three executive and marketing personnel.

The company’s local search offering purports to go a step beyond the standard licensed offerings from InfoUSA, Acxiom and Amacai. Its” Web to Ground” program aggressively crawls the Web, parses franchise information, and works vertical trade associations, such as The American Bar Association, The American Restaurant Association and The American Dental Association, as well as vertical trade shows and events. Just this year alone, the company has attended 15 shows. “It’s very rich data,” says Baillie.

TrueLocal’s current advertising program charges advertisers $4 for listings, plus $1 and up for bids that let them take the top spots of categories by zip code. Baillie says that the program is superior to other local directories’ pay per click efforts. Most of their top spots are taken by national advertisers. True Local generally keeps those spots reserved for advertisers that have local addresses.

Baillie adds that advertisers get a dedicated (800) number to discern which traffic is coming from TrueLocal. They also receive traffic estimators that enable them to do better media planning by letting them see the highest traffic rankings by zip code and categories. They also receive email warnings if competitors are outbidding them for top placements.

Some advertisers are already generating fairly strong leads from TrueLocal. Restaurants in Chicago, for instance (a very strong city for TrueLocal), are seeing upwards of 1,000 views a month.

Baillie says he isn’t especially concerned if companies that are licensing TrueLocal data suddenly discern that their database provider has become a competitor. No one else is providing the same quality of local data, he asserts.