Smartphones Are the New Print

I awoke this morning to discover that my car was broken into: driver’s side window smashed, glass everywhere. Called the police (worthless), called insurance (repair cost is below my deductible); so I wasted an hour or more with those guys. Now on to getting my window fixed . . .

I was given a glass repair company name by my insurance carrier. I called them and got the cable TV line: “we can have someone there between 12 and 5.” That basically means 5 or 5:30. So almost unconsciously I went to the search box on my FF browser and typed in “auto glass replacement”:

Interestingly the 7 pack was lower down on the page than it would have been had I included a geo-modifier. However the work must take place in a physical location so this is no less a “local search.” Google is hedging a bit here.

I ignored the commercial results at the top of the page. The top organic link was the one I already called, so I called the second link. They’re coming out and got my $185 already over the phone.

This is very analogous to the emergency plumbing situation in many respects. Auto repair is a key YP usage category; here are the top 20 from 2008 (per YPA):

  1. Restaurants-Fast Food, Other & Non Specific
  2. Physician & Surgeons Specialist & Non Specific
  3. Auto Parts New, Used & Non-Spec
  4. Auto Repairing & Service
  5. Pizza
  6. Auto Dealers New, Used and Non-Spec
  7. Dentists
  8. Attorneys/Lawyers
  9. Plumbing Contractors
  10. Department Stores
  11. Hospitals
  12. Beauty Salons
  13. Veterinarians
  14. Insurance
  15. Hardware Retail
  16. Tire Dealers
  17. Pharmacies
  18. Florists Retail
  19. Banks
  20. Theaters

The challenge then is to get in front of me on Google when I use it to find a service provider. We talked at length about the SEO challenges on Google today. But I also want to bring something else up.

Increasingly mobile has to be factored into the equation. Here are the same types of queries on the Bing and Google iPhone apps:

There’s even less real estate here than online. Yet in the near future more users will be doing the look up here — in the way they might have gone to the “book in the kitchen” at one time. They’ll use voice search and get a result and then click to call; it will be much faster than looking for the print YP (if it’s even there anymore) or going online. Ads will get extremely good response (think: 20X) because they take up much of the screen (see Google at left).

YP publishers and others in the local space need to plan for a time when smartphones are the primary tool consumers use for the “my toilet’s overflowing” type of scenario. The typical line — “consumers aren’t going to go into another room and fire up the PC” doesn’t apply any longer. The smartphone is on the nightstand.

Local publisher apps need to be top of mind (which means great user experience) and/or publisher results need to be at the very top of SERPs on these devices (that means PPC generally speaking).


5 Responses to “Smartphones Are the New Print”

  1. Todd Leiser Says:

    Greg: Nice post. Sorry about your car but there’s nothing better than a real life experience to bring out true perspective.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:


  3. Ed Kohler Says:

    As someone who’s solved leaky pipe, locked out of car, and broken window window issues without a print directory, I can definitely relate. I turn to my phone first for local information because the results are better than online on my computer since websites and apps know where I am. I haven’t found a need try a YP app yet but will if a trusted friend ever recommends one to me.

  4. Gomez Says:

    It’s a brave new world, eh?

    I’m amazed at how competitive this space is anyways. I have an auto glass Web site, and even though we are one of the only ones that can give a confirmed appointment, there are thousands of sites that are pushing for page views, so it’s pretty tough.

    I threw away my last print directory ten years ago…

  5. Andrew Says:

    Given the value im suprised that it is not a lot more competitive.

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