The Need for an IYP Network

The yellow pages publishers are all competing with one another online and to varying degrees offline. But what they need to do is sit down in a room and start working together. They’ve done it with “frenemies” Google and Yahoo!; so why can’t they do it with one another?

First, they need to support coordinated marketing for the industry that reflects a new multi-platform strategy: print, online and mobile. They’re all doing this to some degree independently with the net result being less visible and/or powerful than a joint effort. That consumer marketing will also get the message across to advertisers as well so it’s valuable for that reason too. (The conundrum here is that AT&T paid $100 million for the “brand” Yellowpages.com and probably doesn’t want to share any of that equity with anyone else.)

Then they all need to build a joint online ad network (as the newspapers are doing with Yahoo! and quadrantOne). They may even want to use a third party platform such as Adify or RightMedia to expand beyond IYP sites. The chief problem for any individual IYP is volume. Marketers like the conversion rates on IYP sites but almost uniformly want more volume. (That is not true for true SMB advertisers however.)

If the publishers could get together and pool their traffic they would go a long way toward accomplishing that. IYP publishers are using Google and Yahoo! as part of their extended “networks” but there is a difference there.

There are various local ad networks today:

  • MediaSpan
  • WorldNow
  • Internet Broadcasting
  • Quigo (now part of AOL)
  • NNN
  • quadrantOne
  • Marchex
  • Centro (not a network per se, but functions like one in some respects)
  • Traditional ad networks offer geotargeting but are typically “blind” save AdBrite

Those criticisms may be less true for YP publishers and IYP sites but forming some sort of larger network would benefit them with certain groups and categories of advertisers – especially national advertisers or brands that have local outlets or franchises.

Once upon a time the YP industry was poised to come together in a portal strategy to compete with Google and Yahoo! in search. That never actually happened but now might be a good time to revisit an updated version of this idea.

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12 Responses to “The Need for an IYP Network”

  1. Old timer Says:

    hmmmm…..anyone remember the “success” 😉 of the Athand network in the late 90’s?. Waaaay too many egos at the incumbents to think outside the box like this. Nice idea but I don’t see incumbents such as ATT, RHD and Idearc, playing nice together ….add in someone like Yellowbook and the chance is even further removed.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    You’re probably correct in your pessimism. However, AtHand was shut down in part because of anti-trust issues that no longer would be controlling.

  3. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    I agree, Greg. This is exactly what IYPs need. They can each maintain their own branded site and sales force, but share content inc. courtesy listings (esp. extended data), ads, and metadata such as ratings and reviews. The only possible argument against content sharing is that IYPs want to differentiate themselves on content. I suspect the benefits of sharing (improved user experience) outweigh any competitive advantage content siloing might bring.

    Businesses want to update/enhance their business in one place only.

    Advertisers want to buy in as few places as possible.

    Separate sites for the 3-4 major IYPs thwarts both desires and helps Google.

    Egos might prevent this from happening, but logically it’s clearly the way to go.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    You’re enlightened but others might not be.

  5. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    You, me and David Carradine…

    – Grasshopper

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    Apparently

  7. Chris Silver Smith Says:

    This is a strong concept.

    Enabling an easy/uniform process for nationwide companies to purchase ad placements across many main IYP sites simultaneously could help to bullet-proof their ongoing purchase of products for a lot longer. All the IYPs and many nationwide companies would likely benefit from enabling a one-stop purchase to get placement across-the-board.

    In addition, I’d go further and encourage the IYPs to collaborate some on improving overall data reliability for the public good — benefitting consumers of directory info as well as local businesses. One method I’ve proposed before would be an Open Local Profile Format — allowing businesses to generate a single business profile for use by many IYPs/local-engines, similar to how the engines cooperated to create the Sitemaps protocol. There might also be other industry-wide ways to address this, too.

  8. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Chris. It just struck me that this should happen but it probably will not.

  9. The ‘Local Paradox’ and IYP Affiliate Network « Screenwerk Says:

    […] essentially a competitor to AdSense for local sites. This is the flip side of my argument about an IYP ad network — or an extension of […]

  10. Idearc, AT&T YP in Cross Distribution Agreement « Screenwerk Says:

    […] See my related post: The Need for an IYP Network […]

  11. Andrew DeLorenzo Says:

    I am in sales at RHD and this is the only good idea I have heard to save this company.

  12. yellow submarine Says:

    A great example…

    And here is a good example of what they talked about…

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