The Local SEM products that YP publishers have been selling with varying degrees of success are deeply flawed in many respects — going to the way they’re sold and/or explained — and they don’t deliver the margins that publishers need. Google, Yahoo and MSFT will always be central to some “network” proposition that the YP publisher (or newspaper) offers local advertisers. But increasingly the “sales channels” are looking for alternative sources of qualified traffic.
Call it the “post Google” future, where reliance on Google as a source of traffic is not as heavy as it is today. That future requires lots of cooperation and the knitting together of many different traffic sources. Eventually the sources of traffic may become totally “opaque” to the individual advertiser — “We’ll deliver you 100 leads from our network.” As with the old Overture or the online ad networks today, publishers and traffic sources will be listed but advertisers may have little or no choice regarding where the traffic comes from.
Yodle has undertaken to build a version of this. YP publishers Idearc, RHD and Yellowpages.com, in exchanging traffic and advertisers, are moving down this path. Citysearch and Marchex have as well. Local.com and a range of others are doing a version of this too.
More of them are coming together to try and deliver quality clicks, calls and impressions without relying on buying search traffic as heavily.
More to come . . .