AT&T’s New 1-800-YellowPages

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AT&T is launching an ad-supported directory assistance (DA) service through the phone number 1-800- YellowPages (1-800-935-5697). Right now it’s available in three markets: Bakersfield, CA.; Oklahoma City, OK; and Columbus, Ohio. Described as a “controlled trial,” it’s not clear yet if the service will roll out nationally. However, I would assume so eventually.

It reportedly will support both business-name queries, which currently constitute about 80% of DA call volumes and category search, which is critical for ad-supported models. There are four ad options:

  • The Jingle (1-800-Free411) inspired “switch pitch,” where a competitor’s ad is played before the requested listing (this is a flawed model and bad user experience)
  • Sponsorships, which are the equivalent of CPM/display advertising online
  • Ads at the “top” of category search results (e.g., florists)
  • Ads for the requested businesses themselves (an ad for the business plays before the caller hears the business contact information)

Ads will also probably come from AT&T-owned YellowPages.com as well as direct sign-ups for the service.

The AT&T free DA debut follows public consideration of an ad-supported DA model by Verizon. AT&T-owed Cingular wireless offers enhanced, though not free, DA services through a partnership with TellMe.

Jingle Networks was the first one to make ad-supported DA “viable” (though not yet profitable). Jingle competitor Infreeda basically ran out of money and is no longer operating. But with the experimental entry of AT&T and, potentially, Verizon into the market it’s clear that “free DA” is here to stay.

The rest of this post is at SEL.

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2 Responses to “AT&T’s New 1-800-YellowPages”

  1. AT&T enhancements to Local Search & YellowPages.com Says:

    […] AT&T is in a potentially strong position because it now effectively “owns” the yellow pages brand with YellowPages.com. Depending on how well the company executes over time, this fact will have justified the $100 million price tag the company paid for the URL. AT&T has also recently started testing ad-supported directory assistance with 1-800 Yellow Pages. […]

  2. steve Says:

    Looks like AT&T has been pretty busy. They also own yellowpages.travel which happens to be a pretty cool site! its nice to see at&t brought back the yellowpages brand, it was a dying brand they revived.

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