There are two things that got me thinking this morning about . . . whether the bulk of the local market/SMBs might ultimately reject PPC or performance-based advertising in favor of a fixed-priced product: the Borrell report on Local SEM churn and a vFlyer announcement about another syndication partner, Kijiji.
For those who don’t know vFlyer, the company enables sellers in key categories to publish once to many different sites in the classifieds/vertical universe. There are free accounts and then subscription products that offer more capabilities.
While many in the SMB world clearly like pay-for-performance ad products (clicks, calls), the majority are not used to paying on a per-lead basis. They’re historically used to fixed-rate, predictably priced products.
Yet, like everything in the SMB realm, there’s no one-size-fits all offering; subscription products (like vFlyer’s model) and PPC offerings for those that are more sophsiticated and aggressive will probably live side by side. However at the low-headcount end of the spectrum a vFlyer-like product is probably a better model than paid clicks. That product ultimately includes a mix of traffic sources as well as other tools and services.
But there’s another (radical) performance scenario in the mix too: YP publishers simply selling calls derived from whatever source (print, online, mobile). This product is being tested right now in certain markets. That makes the traffic sources more of a black box and the publisher manages the delivery of leads or calls from any/all of them. It also means that under certain circumstances “organic” calls can potentially be counted as well (ethical caveats here). This has the advantage of no required education and no analytics to understand, pay attention to or optimize against.
The fixed price product I’m talking about above probably doesn’t yet exist, but GetListed provides a model for at least one component of that product. But there are a range of other components that include directories, search, (potentially) display — and social media tools of various stripes. Nobody has yet to put this package together but I’ve heard a number of things that suggest it’s emerging.
I believe that paid search will be just one component — not the killer app — of the online products that are sold to the bulk of the SMB market in the future. Third parties and intermediaries remain critical to the segment. Traditional media companies (absent the radical calls scenario) are under increasing pressure to justify some of their traditional ad fees as those products see continuing usage losses over time.
The local market is messy and remains a mess for the medium-term.