I just got off the phone with Eric Chandler and Robyn Rose, president and VP of marketing for Superpages respectively. As usual they were extremely candid and forthcoming, which I really appreciate.
Chandler explained that Superpages actually had introduced video ads on its site “four or five years ago, but we were way too early.” Now the timing is right and advertiser demand is growing. Consumer behavior associated with video is also well established. Another report is due out this week from Pew, confirming again the popularity of online video.
Superpages intends to syndicate video to a range of destinations, including, potentially, its current network of PPClick partners. What’s interesting is that Chandler said they were also open to syndicating video to other Internet yellow pages sites.
I was told that Superpages is charging a production fee of “under $1,000″ and then a per click/stream fee for each viewing of the video. This is unlike the Citysearch fee structure that bundles video production into an overall ad spend at a certain price threshold.
The per-stream charge will be auction-based, like Superpages’ PPC and “pay for calls” products. There will be a floor and bidding will similarly be category based rather than keyword based.
Chandler said he thought that the value of the videos sat “between clicks and calls,” with calls being the most valuable ad unit. But we also discussed the possibility that ego and the analogy to TV might drive the competition and prices for video up above many categories of calls.
He then told me that in their calls packages the pricing floor for calls had been increased to $10 per call. He said that there were “a la carte” options for calls that still preserved lower per-call bid pricing. I asked about the range of pricing and the response was “anywhere from $2 to over $100″ per call.
I also asked about Superpages’ click to call offering, which I had thought disappeared but is somewhat more buried behind phone numbers now. They said that it had “plateaued” after ramping “up to a point.” Google recently discontinued click to call.
Regarding syndication Chandler also discussed the possibility that it would eventually include cable TV in addition to the Internet.
Perhaps most interesting of all was that now, with the various PPClick and calls packages that Superpages is selling, the company is often within “80% to 85%” of print spending on a per advertiser basis. What that means is that if Superpages can successfully spend online advertiser budgets it will be making, in some cases, 80%+ of print on a gross basis. Margins are lower online. Chandler said that while cannibalization had been “minimal” to date, they were seeing more interest from advertisers in online products. Video will only increase that trend.
We also discussed that Superpages traffic and platform “agnosticism” was driven as much by pure economics as the company’s “openness.” If Superpages can drive more quality traffic from whatever source, it can make more revenue. “As bid rates go up you don’t need as many streams, calls or clicks,” added Chandler.
Related: Superpages does distribution deal with Jingle’s Free411 for pay-for-calls advertisers.