Modeled on BellSouth€™s "Real Search Engine Solutions," which offers simplified search-engine marketing (SEM) to local businesses based on subscription pricing, SBC Yellow Pages and YellowPages.com are introducing the same product in their respective markets. Called "SBC Search Engine Solutions" and "YPclicks!" respectively, the search traffic packages are supported and facilitated by TrafficLeader technology. TrafficLeader is behind BellSouth's product as well.
Later this year, both the BellSouth and SBC online brands will be merged into YellowPages.com. But for now they remain distinct.
We've been told that the BellSouth product is easy to sell and now, in its second year, renewing at high levels. That suggests that local merchants are eager to have someone else take care of SEM for them, which they probably wouldn't be able to adopt (en masse at least) in the absence of these products.
Despite the reportedly high renewal rates, there is a question over time about whether the local SMEs will understand and be able to convert search-engine traffic (which is not of the same quality level as IYP destination traffic) into sales.
Ultimately, these products will probably need to bundle calls or call tracking into the product mix. Also, given that they're based on an arbitrage model, there's a question about whether the margins can be sustained in the longer term.
But for now, this type of product solves many problems for the IYPs (delivering more traffic to local advertisers), the search engines (the channel problem) and the local merchants (how to get in front of consumers using search engines to find local products and services).