ZipLocal: What’s Their Difference?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.In a word: Canada. I only partly mean it. 🙂

The fact that the Canadian market is so much less crowded when it comes to local search than the American market makes ZipLocal, a new consolidated combination of several Canadian local search destinations, much more viable than it might otherwise be in the US. The site has existing advertisers and revenues (and a sales force).

(Here’s the Kelsey Group’s Mike Boland’s write up of his interview with ZipLocal and here’s my prior short discussion when the site launched.)

That’s not to impliedly critique or take anything away from ZipLocal. Earlier this week I had a good, wide-ranging conversation with ZipLocal CEO Elaine Kunda, who came from Torstar’s She’s very smart and thoughtful about all the local issues: the product, branding, user-generated content, etc.

One of the smart things they’ve done is licensed Urban Mapping‘s technology to improve results and make the overall user experience more intuitive (and accurate).

Kunda is only competing against Google, Yahoo!, Yellow Pages Group (YPG), Torstar (newspapers), and a couple of others. If ZipLocal were US-based, it would be competing against 25 different sites (or more) that are all employing some version of the same strategy: yellow pages listings + ratings and reviews + emerging features (e.g., video).

Here’s where brand comes in and building a trusted relationship with the user. Easier said than done but a critical strategic objective for longer term success. (We also discussed the VC bias against and skepticism regarding brand building — my view: it’s foolish and shortsighted.)

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