User-Generated Content Phobia? Get Over It

While I was in Atlanta speaking with EW Scripps, The Kelsey Group’s yellow page conference kicked off in LA. Now that I’m no longer with the company I can be a little more direct in telling the industry what I think. My former colleague Charles Laughlin posted the following statement as part of a larger discussion of some of the themes and issues of the conference:

User-generated content is a wild card for directory publishers. Consumers love it, but getting to a critical mass of user reviews is a huge challenge, and directory publishers have an understandable phobia about anything (i.e., “Bob’s Pizza tastes like ketchup and Velveta baked onto cardboard…”) that might conflict with the sale of advertising.

Here’s my blunt statement to the industry: Get over it.

Ratings and reviews (and user content way beyond that) are making their way into most of the local search offerings on the market. Reviews will be “table stakes” going forward. Sites like Yahoo! Local, Yelp, InsiderPages and, soon, ParentsConnect go well beyond the content and functionality that appears on most IYP sites. As a result their consumer value proposition is much stronger.

To date, SuperPages is the only traditional US yellow pages publisher that has (wisely) embraced user reviews. As Charles correctly points out, getting critical mass is a challenge — but that’s not a reason not to do it. And if you want to get there, you’d better get started.

Directory publishers who waffle and think they can take usage (of the online product) for granted are simply delusional. Online, in contrast to in the print world, it’s all about the consumer-user experience. Advertisers (and publishers) will simply have to adjust to that.

3 Responses to “User-Generated Content Phobia? Get Over It”

  1. Andy Vogel, Interactive in Chicagoland » Blog Archives » User-Generated Content Phobia? Get Over It Says:

    […] Right-on Greg… […]

  2. UGC Directories vs. ‘Traditional’ IYPs « Screenwerk Says:

    […] Here’s my earlier post on the yellow pages and user-generated content phobia and why they need to “get over it.” […]

  3. Will Sullivan's Journerdism - Online journalism, multimedia, web design, media changes and all things nerdy. Says:

    […] User-Generated Content Phobia? Get Over It “User-generated content is a wild card for directory publishers. Consumers love it, but getting to a critical mass of user reviews is a huge challenge, and directory publishers have an understandable phobia about anything (i.e., ‘ (i.e., “Bob’s Pizza tastes like ketchup and Velveta baked onto cardboard…’) that might conflict with the sale of advertising.” […]

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