I met briefly with Yext at the Borrell show after months of emails back and forth. The company partly showed me and further described an elaborate and impressive calling platform directed at new customer acquisition exclusively. The company doesn’t currently offer a product for CRM or loyalty.
All calls are recorded, analyzed and, then, merchants are only billed after the fact for good leads. Analysis of the calls is done with speech-to-text technology and data mining for various key words and phrases to determine caller intent. Traffic comes from syndication, SEM and Yext’s own directory. Yext participates in CityGrid for example.
In terms of business models, it’s an interesting variation on PPCall that remedies some of the problems of the model. Conventional PPCall just looks at call duration to determine whether to bill. For example the old Ingenio (now operated/owned by AT&T) billed after 30 seconds. This product involves a great deal more sophistication to determine the actual content of calls as a prerequisite to billing. It pushes closer to a model that is more “risk free” for advertisers, though not as far as a HelpHive or LocalTop, which take a commission upon completion of a project.
Yext also rewards merchants that respond to calls; answering the phone is a problem for some SMBs. Those that are responsive rank higher in results than those who do not (price is of course also factored in).
I specifically asked about the $20M revenue figure floated during the recent TechCrunch event in which Yext had a bit of a coming out. Many people I speak with don’t believe that the company actually has those revenues. Not only are those revenues real, said CEO Howard Lerman, they’ll be bigger than the quoted figure this year. The strategic use of that number helped the company secure a $25 million round of funding.
My belief is that if the revenues weren’t real the VCs (who presumably do due diligence) wouldn’t have invested.
Correction: Ingenio charges for calls after 12 seconds not 30.