AT&T has apparently decided to that attract a younger demographic (those under 30) it’s going to build a different kind of yellow pages with a different brand. It will be a mix of listings and user-generated content. According to Forbes:
Later this year, AT&T plans to roll out an alternative brand for local search, geared primarily at younger users. The site will feature the same core data–listings and advertiser information–as Yellowpages.com, but differ in how it presents information and how it uses user-submitted information. While Yellowpages.com returns data based on advertisers’ profiles, similar to a directory, the new site will prioritize results based on a user’s social connections and recommendations, says Yoo.
Though perhaps about three years late, the concept is sound. The question is whether AT&T can build the site and make it more than simply a copy of Yelp, Yahoo Local, Citysearch, GoodRec or others in the segment. This is the problem that exists in search too — historically companies have built me-too products that are unable to compete with the market leader.
If AT&T is simply looking for incremental traffic and usage then this approach might be fine. If the company is looking for a brand and UX that are going to pull people from their existing allegiances and behaviors that’s going to be much more difficult.
A smart move perhaps would be to simply buy Yelp and run it as a separate division but with AT&T advertisers as the monetization engine. Perhaps that has already been explored.