Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

YPG Debuts iPad App

June 15, 2010

Canada’s Yellow Pages Group becomes the second major YP publisher (after Yellowbook) to launch an app for the iPad. It also promotes other YPG properties, such as its Urbanizer iPhone app, Restaurantica and its deals site, RedFlagDeals.com. However the buttons below take users to the Internet versions of those sites rather than specially iPad/mobile optimized versions.

Overall my sense is that the app is a good start but can be tweaked improved, especially at the profile page level.

A couple of thoughts:

Three years ago I wrote about the “PC in the kitchen” that would replace the phone book. This is it — it’s where my iPad sits much of the time.

One of the simple YPG iPad app features that I like, which is relatively common across directory sites, is favorites and recent searches. This becomes an informal list of contacts — you can also add SMBs or locations to the formal iPad contacts — for quick reference. So in the kitchen this is like a phone book in a way. The potential for engagement around this simple idea is quite high.

The next step is for the iPad to become a phone, which it is with the Skype app, and integrate calling into an app like this. So when I tap the number above, Skype launches and I can call the business. YPG could track that call and get credit for delivering it. You get the idea.

The YPG iPad app is also a potentially great “deals” platform. Coupons/deals should be integrated into this app as well. One could imagine a Groupon-like local deal of the day . . .

Print YP Will Eventually Be ‘Opt-In’

June 6, 2010

AT&T started it but now Canada’s Yellow Pages Group has decided to stop delivering residential white pages directories:

The Yellow Pages Group has ended automatic delivery of the residential phone directory in seven major cities.

“An increasing number of Canadians, particularly in urban areas, use our online and mobile resources YellowPages.ca and Canada411.ca to find residential phone numbers,” Marc Tellier, president and CEO of YPG, said in a statement . . .

That move is expected to result in a reduction of more than five million copies – about 3,500 tonnes of paper – a year across Canada.

In the affected markets – Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, the Ottawa-Gatineau area and Quebec City – delivery of the Yellow Pages directory will continue on an annual basis.

Right now most YP publishers offer an “opt-out” policy with print yellow pages. If users don’t want to receive them they can request cessation of print YP delivery.

Yet the public doesn’t make the same distinctions between yellow and white pages that the industry does. White pages, for most publishers, are a “cost center” and deliver little or no advertising revenue. (There are some publishers in Europe for example that do make considerable ad revenue from print WP.) Print yellow pages generate the lion’s share of directory publisher revenue.

However consumers at large likely view white pages and yellow pages print directories in a very similar way. As I’ve argued in the past, pushing opt-in white pages means that relatively soon consumer, environmental groups and individuals will be calling for opt-in print YP (some already have). There’s a logic here that’s almost inevitable.

Regarding the white pages initiative, publishers are seeking to be good “corporate citizens” even as they act in their own self interest to reduce costs. I’m not trying to say that they shouldn’t make WP opt-in.

What I am trying to say is that they need to be mindful that the longer term impact of this move will be a similar call for opt-in YP. There are several things they can do in the interim:

  • Advertise the value of print YP both to the consumer and as a source of economic value to the community
  • Continue to invest in the directory to improve its utility
  • Integrate the print and digital products in several ways (websites, email addresses, SMS/QR codes)
  • Prepare for the coming day when print YP becomes opt-in. It may be three years; it may be seven years from now but it is coming

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Update: California State Senator Leland Yee just tried unsuccessfully to do this very thing. Yee accused AT&T of behind behind the defeat of the bill, which would have made home delivery of YP opt-in:

Yee, D-San Mateo, in February had trumpeted introduction of the bill, which would end home delivery of phone directories unless customers opt in to receive them. But when SB 920 came to a vote Thursday, eight senators decided not to weigh in — including the bill’s two co-authors and a few members who’d voted for the bill in committees. One of those earlier “aye” votes even turned to a no.

YPG ‘Likes’ Facebook’s Social Plug-ins

April 22, 2010

While lots of local publishers are using Facebook Connect as a sign in, to transmit user reviews and other actions back to the Facebook news feed, Canada’s YPG appears to be the first that has integrated the new social plug-ins and “Like” button in particular. (I wrote a long piece at SEL about the new social plug-ins and Open Graph announced by Facebook yesterday.)

Every profile on Yellowpages.ca now has a “Like” button. And when I show up at the site (if I’m signed in to Facebook) I’ll see the activity on the site from my Facebook friends (for “instant personalization”).

Here’s how it looks. First without the FB log in:

And now with me logged in to Facebook and “Liking” a business:

My Like goes off to my FB news feed (and later a dedicated area on my profile page). My friends’ recent activities on the site are immediately shown to me:

Some of this was already going on with Facebook Connect but the new tools and capabilities that Facebook announced yesterday go well beyond that. For example, by “Liking” a business you’ve become a Fan (in the old Facebook Fan sense), which means that if you’ve permitted it with  your privacy settings every time there’s an update associated with that “Liked” business you’ll get a feed notification, including potentially an email if that’s the way the site is set up. The equivalent things would have happened if you had become a Fan of a company or business on Facebook itself. In other words, the Like button makes any profile or website into a Facebook Fan page.

In the case above I’ve effectively become a fan/follower of the sushi restaurant. And it’s a kind of “stealth CRM” vehicle for sites and businesses that choose to exploit that potential.

Every single local publisher will undoubtedly become part of this system, which is now much easier to implement than the old FB Connect.

YPG Buys Canpages, Consolidates .Ca YP Biz

March 30, 2010

Not that it wasn’t already dominant, but Canada’s Yellow Pages Group (YPG) has bought its most successful/threatening remaining directory publishing rival, Canpages, in a $225 million transaction that includes US assets.

According to the press release out this morning:

Yellow Media Inc. (“YPG”) announced today that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Canadian Phone Directories Holdings Inc. (“Canpages”) from an investor group led by private equity firm HM Capital Partners for a purchase price consideration of approximately $225M. Canpages is a local search and directories publisher in Canada . . .

Headquartered in Vancouver, Canpages publishes 84 directories for a total circulation of approximately 8 million copies. The company’s website, Canpages.ca, attracts more than 3.5 million unique visitors each month. Canpages generates annualized revenues of $110M with an online contribution of approximately 23%. The Company employs about 700 people in Canada of which more than 450 are sales consultants . . .

In addition to the Canpages acquisition, YPG announced the contribution of its U.S. directory operations, YPG Directories, LLC, publisher of Your Community Phone Book (“YCB”), to Ziplocal, LP. YCB is the publisher of independent directories in selected Mid-Atlantic and Southeast American markets and was acquired from Volt Information Sciences, Inc. in September 2008. Ziplocal is a leader in providing an innovative source of information for the businesses and communities it serves. The company operates ziplocal.com, and once the two entities merge, Ziplocal will reach over 300 markets across the United States.

There are essentially two transactions: the acquisition of Canpages and the transfer of YPG US operations to Ziplocal, an online local search provider that had previously been acquired by Canpages. Previously Canpages announced a partnership with Utah-based Phone
 Directories
 Company (PDC). The latter was contributing its US online operations to Ziplocal. I would imagine that will still be in place, but may set the stage for another YPG acquisition.

One person described this transaction to me in email in this way: “This would be the equivalent of pulling AT&T, SuperMedia and DexOne together” in the US.

As the quote implies, YPG will be the dominant local media company in Canada. It will compete against a few smaller players in the directory industry and independent channels such as ReachLocal for local advertisers. There are also some newspaper publishers that may decide to make a bigger push into “local search.”

On the consumer side, it will compete with Yelp, Citysearch, Google and some newspaper owned city sites like Torstar’s Toronto.com. Foursquare is also in Canada and has a deal with daily newspaper Metro.

YPG is the supplier of local data to Google Maps in Canada.

The US local market is much more competitive than in Canada and Ziplocal is a minor player. But he US represents a growth opportunity for YPG.

This is just the latest in a series of transactions for YPG, which include the acquisition of sites like Restaurantica and several shopping-related destinations such as RedFlagDeals. The company now has a broad portfolio of local digital assets beyond its flagship yellow pages directory site.

Canpages Releases an API

February 25, 2010

Call it a Canadian version of Citysearch’s CityGrid strategy. Canpages has just released an API and is about to announce a developer contest.

The API includes images, videos, recommendations & lat/long. There are also 1.3 million Canadian business listings made available through the API.

I’m not clear on whether monetization is a part of this, but I would imagine so (w/rev share to third party developers). This strategy represents something of a challenge for dominant Canadian local publisher YPG, which outside of Google is the leading “local search” provider in Canada.

Will YPG match this? And will this strategy make its way south?

A number of US publishers have considered something like this but Citysearch is the only company to really broadly syndicate its listings — so far.

YPG Search Engine Solutions: ‘Not about Clicks’

February 18, 2010

Canada’s YPG has launched a combined SEM and SEO product for SMBs called “Search Engine Solutions.” It features an effective Apple-Google-like video explaining the product and how it works:

The product is built around a customized rich landing page with a custom URL that will track “every single action taken” (it extends into mobile). The “leads page” offers call tracking and will also capture clicks, emails and other “actions” (using Telmetrics and AgendiZe I believe). The leads page will feature video and maps as well.

According to the release:

At the centre of YPG’s Search Engine Solutions offering will be the ability for advertisers to create a custom leads page with interactive mapping, driving directions, and ‘send to friend’ capabilities. Businesses will also have the option of setting up call tracking to help measure the number of calls received from YPG leads.

I actually thought that YPG had a version of this in market already. But I was wrong apparently — so very wrong :)

As with Yodle’s recent SEO product introduction, this reflects a move away from a pure SEM solution toward a more “holistic” offering for SMBs. And because video is a prominent potential feature of the leads page it should also help YPG sell video to advertisers.

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Note to YPG PR: in the future put a version of the video up on YouTube so that it can be embedded in blogs like this.

Update: Silly me, it already exists:

eBay-CL: Smoking Gun?

December 10, 2009

I’ve long said that eBay’s presence on the Craiglist (CL) board, given the auction giant’s ownership of Kijiji was a breach of fiduciary duty in every sense — ethical and legal.

Indeed, eBay’s motivation to buy the stake may have been two-fold: buy CL or if not possible then “go to school” and use inside information to better compete with CL both in and out of the US market. As I said in mid 2007, having a seat on the board of a company you’re directly competing with would seem to be a significant violation of eBay’s fiduciary obligations to Craigslist (even if the board member had nothing to do with Kijiji, etc.). 

The latter is consistent with what Bloomberg appears to be reporting:

An EBay Inc. lawyer said confidential information the online-auction company gleaned from its part ownership of Craigslist Inc. was used to help start up a competing classified-advertising Web site.

Brian Levey, an EBay vice president and one of its in-house lawyers, said today that EBay received the information because of its minority stake in Craigslist and used it to develop the rival Kijiji site in 2007. Levey testified in a trial over EBay’s claims that Craigslist unfairly devalued EBay’s 28 percent stake in the company.

CL may have acted improperly in diluting eBay’s ownership interest but eBay pretty clearly has “unclean hands,” which will compromise their ultimate position in the litigation.

AgendiZe Integrates Booking into Social Toolset

December 9, 2009

AgendiZe, which describes itself as an “engagement platform,” has integrated online booking/scheduling into its suite of tools and services. According to the release out this morning:

AgendiZe Online Scheduling allows customers to do much more than just book appointments online. Customers can see headshots and pick from specific service employees; choose exactly which service they want; and even pay for reservations, deposits or services online. Moreover, since AgendiZe Online Scheduling is a part of the AgendiZe Engagement Platform, users can also Share their appointment info with friends via SMS, social networks or chat; Save it to their calendar or mobile device; schedule a reminder phone call and much more, making it easy to remember their appointment and inform others about it. 

There are a range of other companies in the market that offer booking including Book Fresh, Booking Angel and several others. Early experiments to create a Pay-per-Booking model in the local directory segment failed or were false starts. Of course restaurant booking and hotel booking online are wildly successful. Fixed fee billing or adding the capability in as part of a service package is a better model for several reasons. 

AgendiZe has a dizzying array of what I would call “social marketing” tools and capabilities and works with numerous directory publishers in North America and Europe. The company is now trying to push beyond the directory industry into new market segments. 

As part of past research with Canada’s Yellow Pages Group (2008-2009), AgendiZe found that users were “time shifting” their business contact behavior. In other words they were doing research and then subsequently calling the SMB they’d selected; it wasn’t happening in the same session. The AgendiZe platform and tools, embedded on publisher sites, captured and facilitated these interactions. Here’s a kind of summary of how users interact with the AgendiZe widgets/tools on publisher sites:

Some 70% of all user actions are to “save for later” or to “set up reminders”; only 20% of users want to “Contact Now” (ie. Click-to-Call or Chat) and only 10% want to “Share” (ie. Facebook, Twitter). 

The new online scheduling will be very successful in some verticals and not used in others. There’s a bit of a learning curve for SMBs, but consumers are already conditioned by travel and OpenTable to use online booking.

For existing customers and recurring visits (e.g., Salons) it’s a great tool provided that there’s no per-transaction charge for the SMB. This is one reason why a fixed fee or subscription is the right model for most SMB segments. While they’ll pay for new business generally speaking SMBs don’t want to pay for their own customer. But in a subscription model online booking becomes a CRM tool to facilitate repeat visits or appointments.

YellowPages.ca Relaunches Site

October 26, 2009

Yellow Pages Group has relaunched the YellowPages.ca site:

Picture 3

From the release out this morning:

The new YellowPages.ca features a cleaner overall design with simplified search criteria and highly intuitive auto-fill functionality that suggests up-to ten locations in the ‘Where’ box to make searching for local businesses and service providers effortless . . .

In addition to boosting the site’s overall presentation and functionality, enhancements have been made to refine the relevancy of returned search results and improve the interactivity of maps. As a result, users can search for information by neighbourhood, small city of even local landmark with fewer clicks and more flexibility.

I don’t have time at the moment to do a thorough evaluation of the site but let me know your thoughts if you’re inclined to take a look.

YellowPages.ca is still the 800 lb gorilla in the market but it increasingly competes with Google, Canpages and Yelp.

Canada’s YPG Refreshes iPhone App

September 17, 2009

Picture 127I finally got around to testing and comparing some of the YP iPhone apps yesterday, something I’ve been meaning to do literally for months. Among the ones looked and and compared were:

  • YPMobile
  • Superpages
  • Sensis (Australia)
  • Eniro (Sweden)
  • YPG (Canada)
  • Pages Jaunes (France)
  • Dex

It’s quite interesting to see what features are present or missing on each of them. While there are some differentiated elements on some of them, most don’t stray too far from a basic template. There are some clear leaders in the group but no single app that “brings it all together” in a breakthrough or break out way. Which is your favorite? Do you use any of them?

The update of the YPG app adds SMB video to many of the profiles (AT&T is the other app that offers video). Here are the list of new or improved features on the YPG app, from the press release:

  • Full access to merchant content, including video and photo montages
  • Business, Person and Reverse phone number look-up
  • Save to your favourites (My Favs) and/or address book
  • Share listing results with others via email/sms
  • Local proximity-based search using GPS & Maps
  • Direct connect to Voice Search (no charge usage)

Picture 126

YPG also has an Answers product (not a part of its app), which conceptually is the same as Aardvark. While Aardvark was something of a longshot before its iPhone app, it how has a much greater shot at mainstream adoption. And it works pretty well in my experience.

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Related: Praized and YPG launch “real-time” local search site Calgary.com:

Picture 128

Praized appears to be hitting its stride with implementations like this.

Canpages Continues to Build Its ‘Street View’

August 27, 2009

Canpages is continuing to build out its street-level photography offering for the Canadian market. Last week the site acquired social directory publisher GigPark.

According to the release issued the next city for Canpages’ “Street Scene” photography will be Montreal:

Street Scene provides 360-degree street-level views of the city for people searching for local business Canpages.ca. The technology enables users to pinpoint their search results on a map as well as see high resolution images of the results in the context of the local environment. For example, users can take a virtual “drive” down a city street to find out whether a restaurant offers parking or to see what a particular storefront looks like. Street Scene views are currently available for local businesses searches conducted in Vancouver and Whistler, BC. Canpages recently wrapped up shooting in Toronto. These images, along with images collected of Montreal streets, are expected to become available on Street Scene in the fall of 2009.

I think there’s no question, notwithstanding some of the privacy issues, that users like this imagery. The question for incumbent YP publisher Yellow Pages Group is how to respond here:

  • Build a similar product
  • Use Google’s Street View on its site
  • Use crowdscourcing (a la Everyscape) to offer street-level imagery

What would you do if you were at YPG:

  • Compete head on?
  • Dismiss this as as a costly novelty?
  • Integrate the Google imagery?

Update: Courtesy of AhmedF, here’s an image from Canpages “Street Scene” (using MapJack):

Picture 65

Canpages Buys GigPark with Big Plans

August 25, 2009

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.

Picture 33

Wiki Directory BizWiki Launches in US

August 1, 2009

BizWiki formally launched on last week. It’s an international wiki-based directory site, like Brownbook. According to the release:

Bizwiki was built by industry-veterans with years of business directory and meta-search experience behind them, including Keith Hinde, Matt Aird, Craig Sefton and Arthur Jenkins, who between them have helped develop directory and search products for Infospace, local directory publisher Thomson Directories, TradePage and Webcrawler.

The fact that it involves people experienced in local and the directories business is the only thing that suggests there’s any chance to gain visibility and usage. Regardless success with a directory wiki (unless acquired) is a relatively long-term play.

Picture 6

Yellowikis was the original effort to use a wiki to develop a directory site in 2004. Since that time the major search engines have allowed users to add or edit listings on their local sites.

YPG’s ‘Demographic’ Vertical: PrimeLiving

July 23, 2009

I wasn’t aware of this before . . . YPG in Canada has created (or maybe had it for some time) a demographic destination: PrimeLiving.ca:

Picture 22

Part yellow pages, part cityguide it targets seniors. We’re about to see massive “verticalization” of the yellow pages industry online (and in mobile perhaps). But this demographic approach is also an interesting model for publishers.

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Sebastien Provencher also points out that YPG has a legal vertical:

Picture 30

Canpages Acquires ZipLocal to Battle YPG

June 22, 2009

Picture 20The press release went out this am:

The acquisition, which is expected to be finalized in July 2009, will see Canpages’ advertiser base grow by more than 2,300 new customers and expand its reach to the 695,000 unique visitors(i) who conduct more than 3.2 million searches on the ZipLocal website each month. Additionally, it will allow Canpages to further enhance the functionality of its online search platform, Canpages.ca, with ZipLocal’s considerable amount of user-generated content that includes reviews, ratings and business tags designed to help consumers make more informed decisions during their search.

ZipLocal was a public company and also launched a US expansion. It’s unclear if that effort will continue. Regardless, the acquisition means the competitive landscape for local search in Canada basically looks like this: search engines vs. YPG vs. Canpages, Yelp, Weblocal.

Note: Ahmed corrects me on Compete’s reach and accuracy, saying it only shows US traffic.

Here’s a better representation:

Picture 14

I’m also reminded that there is 411.ca as well.

YPG Promotes Answers

May 29, 2009

Picture 3I previously posted on the new Answers service from Yellow Pages Group, but a formal press release went out yesterday:

Available at http://answers.yellowpages.ca/, the Yellow Pages Answers Service lets consumers ask questions and get recommendations in real-time for the most relevant local merchants. The service also gives users the opportunity to broadcast their questions within their Facebook or Twitter networks with all answers coming back to a unique page that leverages the more than 1.2 million YellowPages.ca business listings.

Picture 4

Praized Media is behind the new service.

As I said before:

The ability to ask questions of a group on local sites is nothing new. Both InsiderPages and Judy’s Book offered Q&A functionality from near inception (in 2007). It’s no longer on InsiderPages, now owned by IAC. And Judy’s Book has been sold and relaunched. Yelp has had questions and answers for several years as well (though not well integrated into the experience). Trulia and Zillow have very robust communities and Q&A tools in which local real estate agents can participate in conversations or provide answers to consumer questions. Beyond these there are a wide range of pre-existing services, Yahoo! Answers, Amazon’s AskVille, LinkedIn and several others, that also offer Q&A — though not in “real time.”

However, Twitter has brought Q&A or “real-time answers” into vogue and this is a smart (as well as useful) thing to add to the site.

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As an aside, Microsoft’s Bing/Kumo is being positioned in forthcoming ads as a “decision engine.” YPG bills itself as a “find engine.”

Classifieds News: Oodle, Kijiji, OLX, CL

May 16, 2009

The big “news” in the classifieds space has been about Craigslist and the site coming under pressure to make changes in its erotic services ads. But there’s a bunch of other stuff going on. . .

eBay owned Kijiji (whose growth has stalled somewhat) is reportedly considering a name change to “eBay Classifieds.” (Recall that eBay owns a significant minority stake in Craigslist and the two companies are in litigation. I’m unaware of its status.) In the meantime, Kijiji has been busy adding features, including Twitter and Facebook integration (@KijijiUS). Not long ago the site also added a bunch of new functionality:

  • Category icons
  • Watch Ad function
  • Résumés Category
  • Swap/Trade Category
  • Foreclosure & REOs section in Housing Category
  • Enhanced Ad Reporting

New York-based classifieds purveyor, OLX, which operates in the US but has greater strength in non-US markets, raised more money $18 million over two recent rounds, for a total of roughly $29 million in VC funding to date.

Earlier this month MySpace launched classifieds in Canada, powered by Oodle:

Picture 17

Even with all the negative publicity, the primitive functionality and the competition from a number of powerful companies, Craigslist continues to dominate the segment and has arguably been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the recession. (Don’t take the traffic data comparing CL, Kijiji and OLX below as actual, but rather directional.)

Picture 18

Source: Compete (CL is the blue line)

Canadian YP Scores, US YP Struggles

August 7, 2008

YPG announced positive Q2 revenues and strong growth online:

Consolidated Adjusted Revenues increased 4.3% in the second quarter to reach $430.6 million. Revenues increased by $19.3 million to $430.4 million during the second quarter of 2008, compared with the same period last year. Consolidated Adjusted EBITDA1 grew by 7.3% to $235.4 million, while EBITDA (income from operations before depreciation and amortization) increased by $15.7 million or 7.1% to $236 million in the same period.

Online revenues from Directories and Vertical Media combined amounted to $61.4 million in the quarter. This represents organic growth of 44% over the second quarter of 2007. On an annualized basis, online revenues reached $245.6 million.

If I’m doing the calculation right online is now 14% of YPG overall revenues. That compares, generally, with <10% for US publishers.

How does one explain the Canadian success, while American publishers continue to struggle?

  • Better management
  • Monopoly status in directory industry
  • More diversified online revenue sources
  • Less online competition in Canada
  • Pact with Satan
  • Other?

GigPark’s Concept and Challenge

April 28, 2008

gigpark logoGigPark 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. The company has also built a Facebook application (like Loladex).

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 site launched in February and I was unaware of it until recently. 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. Literally there’s almost no content that I could find in several searches. And you can’t do any searches until you register.

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.

However there is, apparently, content in GigPark’s hometown of Toronto, linked off the homepage, e.g.:

Gigpark listing

The concept behind this is of course sound. It’s populating the content that’s a challenge. The Facebook application may help. But nobody wants to be the first one at a party.

The Rise and Crash of GeoSign

March 8, 2008

TrueLocalThis is old news but, courtesy of Tech Soapbox (Ahmed Farooq), here’s the lengthy story of the rise and fall of Canada’s Geosign Corp. — a company that built a $100 million business on search arbitrage until Google changed its policy.

GeoSign also started TrueLocal (not discussed in the article), which laid off its staff and became something of a shell well before GeoSign exploded.


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