Canpages Buys GigPark with Big Plans

Picture 32Canpages acquired competitor ZipLocal in June and just announced the acquisition of social directory GigPark as part of a more aggressive expansion into the broader North American market. I wrote about GigPark a couple of months after it launched last year:

GigPark is a Toronto-based startup that seeks to create a network of friends so you can tap their knowledge base about local-anything, but predominantly service providers . . . In the US there are dozens of competitors. In its home market, GigPark faces competition from ZipLocal, Torstar’s Toronto.com, iBegin and YellowPages.ca (not to mention the search engines) . . .

The problem right now is that there’s basically no there there, just an aggressive effort to get people to upload their contacts and to start posting about local businesses . . . If the site were widely adopted by my friends and their friends (or the parallel Facebook app) you’d have a potentially rich database of content. But the site hasn’t bought a commercial database (InfoUSA, Axciom, Localeze, iBegin Source) so that there’s at least some content to jump start that process. This is the chicken and egg problem taken to new levels.

According to an article appearing today in Canada.com:

Canpages, a private company based in Vancouver, plans to integrate the user recommendation functions from Gigpark.cominto Canpages.ca by the end of the year, creating Canada’s first hybrid local search-social networking site.

Not exactly. Google Maps features reviews (and the ability to write reviews) and Yelp.ca pretty  much fits the description above.

The article also says Canpages’ revenues are north of $100 million (Canadian?) and the site is profitable. The terms of the GigPark deal weren’t disclosed. The deal makes sense because it makes Canpages social, while GigPark really had no future (or a very long term future provided funding could hold out).

Canpages is currently a yellow pages lookalike site and the GigPark acquisition signals a move away from that approach. The Canada.com article quotes CEO Olivier Vincent:

“I think [the brand] Yellow Pages is a liability more than anything else. It’s associated with a print experience,” Mr. Vincent said. “In the past year we’ve got 70% of the traffic they do. David is almost as big as Goliath.”

Goliath is of course YPG in this case.

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6 Responses to “Canpages Buys GigPark with Big Plans”

  1. The Praized Blog » Blog Archive » Canpages Acquires Social Recommendation Site GigPark.com, Validates Praized’s Model Says:

    [...] Greg Sterling analyzes the [...]

  2. AhmedF Says:

    You should really add weblocal.ca too as up there – it really kicks ass and takes names.

    On the larger view though – beyond unique visitors, I think pageviews and engagement is extremely important here too. Using Google Ad Planner, we see that UVs for Yellowpages.ca is 1.6 million vs 1.1 million for canpages.ca (The Toronto Star – our ‘NYTimes’ also clocks in at 1.1 million UVs). What blows the lid off though are pageviews – canpages.ca clocks in at 6.8 million, with YPG at 19 million (The Star with 45 million).

    This of course is discounting very successful localized sites. For example – CastaNet.net. It serves a relatively small city – 100k people – and while it gets only 150k uniques/month, it pushes a massive 23 million pageviews a month!

    So while canpages.ca is close in pure UVs, it is greatly lagging behind in engagement.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    “So while canpages.ca is close in pure UVs, it is greatly lagging behind in engagement.”

    . . .hence the acquisition it would seem.

    Ahmed: thanks for the additional context and color.

  4. Steve Curry Says:

    Engagement is an important factor going forward – I’m sure all the major players in local search are working on this concept.

    As for the comments on branding, I agree with the assertion in the article that ANY brand tied to PRINT is actually a liability. People (site users) relate to these brands like they would a paper directory – which is very different from a quality, online experience.

    You also neglected to mention 411.ca, which is the #1 local search site in Canada, that’s not tied to a print directory. Usage patterns are quite different than the print-dominated brands mentioned in the article, with higher time on site, more PVs per user and a simpler experience overall.

    Thanks for your article Greg – we’ll see how the engagement process plays out over the next year or so.

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    Steve:

    Thanks for correcting me. Wasn’t trying to leave anyone out. That was just a quick article based on the announcement.

    Helpful to have the additional context. Thanks again

  6. Canpages Continues to Build Its ‘Street View’ « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] to build out its street-level photography offering for the Canadian market. Last week the site acquired social directory publisher [...]

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