SuperMedia Getting Vertical

Not long ago DexOne (formerly RHD) launched a vertical strategy with a weddings site. I didn’t talk to the company but assumed this was the first in a series of verticals that it was going to pursue. Now, SuperMedia is doing something similar but more aggressive. It has built a new “AskLearnHire” platform and three new verticals at launch, all with the “prefix” Super:

They all follow the same “template” and these are the first verticals in a larger planned rollout. The sites try to capture and address different stages of the consumer research and decision-making cycle with Q&A, content and lead-gen, hence the tabs Ask, Learn, Hire:

Consumers can ask a question and get it answered by a service provider; they can read content (written by writers but later by SMBs) and/or they can submit an RFP/lead-gen form:

According to the press release out this morning:

During the beta phase, leads will be sent to participating businesses at no charge. After official launch, businesses can purchase exclusive leads at a competitive market fee. Leads are only offered to one business at a time with information about the consumer’s needs so businesses can evaluate before deciding to accept that lead. Businesses are only charged for the lead if they decide to accept. The consumer’s contact information is only shared with the business once the lead has been accepted, which eliminates consumers being contacted by multiple businesses.

As you can see from the presence of the cape-wearing fellow, the SuperGuarantee is a prominent part of the entire offering. SuperMedia is trying to build lots of brand equity around the SuperGuarantee, which I’ve been told independently by several people at the company is very popular and “working.”

During a call last week, I was cautioned by SuperMedia VP Robyn Rose that the sites are a work in progress and in beta. The initial three categories were chosen because they’re popular on Superpages and involve varying degrees of research and consideration.

SuperMedia is trying to learn from consumer and SMB interaction with them whether and how to modify the sites before proceeding with a larger rollout. Conceptually this is very creative and interesting and trying to go beyond and provide more utility than the typical profile page details and content that are common to directories. There’s also broad SEO potential here in the Ask and Learn categories.

The sites will also gain exposure on and vice versa.

Taking a broader view, the changes and new efforts at Dex, and now SuperMedia reflect a time of transition and change in the US directory industry. The local market is now incredibly dynamic and competitive (as it extends into mobile) and these efforts are new attempts to bring more content, relevance and value to consumers and advertisers. In the case of SuperMedia, in addition to its various syndication programs, this vertical strategy is an effort to not only provide a useful consumer experience but also something of a hedge against reliance on a single consumer destination.

What do you think of this new vertical approach?


7 Responses to “SuperMedia Getting Vertical”

  1. Kevin Marsh Says:

    IYPs are in a desperate state of affairs. Directories were once strongly perceived as local content leaders, but that has since eroded and their offers are ubiquitous. IYPs have to compete with Search Engines and players like Yelp whose offerings go beyond local listings.

    Since this expands the content a searcher has access to, i think it’s brilliant. However, this should have happened a while ago. I wonder if it is too little too late.

    I’d also be concerned about the user experience:
    How long are users willing to wait for a question to be answered. And will articles be perceived as credible or biased.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:


    I think the challenge, as you point out, is getting participation for Q&A (but merchants will have incentives to respond) and maintaining quality content. I think bias is less of an issue than quality over time.

  3. MerchantCircle Expands Q&A, Says HelloMetro « Screenwerk Says:

    […] local: Aardvark (now part of Google), kgb, ChaCha, Quora, YPG Answers, Yelp has forums, SuperMedia just introduced this today, AT&T’s coming and there are other examples (e.g., Facebook, Twitter […]

  4. Mike Stewart Says:

    Like the domain I registered and commented awhile back, glad they are fighting back, SuperTradeExchange is Tanking on Subscibers. Lol

  5. Ben Barney Says:

    Users are wanting a more 360 degree experience in their quest to find products and services, and in the main-stay, the traditional IYP’s are a little one dimensional and not fulfilling user demands. [In their defence it is a difficult task to personalise a directory around each heading, hence verticals have been able to capitalise by focusing on more targeted group of headings.]

    Providing UGC in the form of reviews and forums/discussion boards is a compelling user proposition and SEO proposition, which therefore make it a highly monetisable proposition.

    I think we will see many more directory publishers follow this lead, and in turn, allow them to start selling more verticalised products aswell. The days of the directory “one size fits all model” are numbered IMO!

  6. Greg Sterling Says:


    I agree that we’ll be seeing more of this driven by the need to create better consumer experiences and to find more traffic.

  7. Jian Says:

    To me, I think Yelp is sort of taking the lead on a solid business model. To build something on top of user generated reviews. I think it could apply to ecommerce as well, say, product reviews.

    People are looking for review information and will find such content very useful. So, directories going the way of augmenting the functionality with reviews and forums would be a good move.

    However, as far as controlling the quality of reviews, and cultivating user participation, are very tough job. That’s where I think innovation could come in, in terms of better technology and model to make it work.

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