Yellow Book Buys Click Forward

I had heard a rumor earlier in the week that Yellow Book was buying Click Forward. Before I saw the release Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal confirmed it.

Click Forward was started by alumni of WebVisible, formerly SME Global Solutions. And like WebVisible, Local Launch, Reach Local, MatchCraft and Marchex (which just announced a search marketing distribution relationship with The Berry Co.), the company helps enable third parties (e.g., Yellow Pages publishers) to sell search marketing to local businesses in simplified form (flat pricing, guaranteed clicks).

The release quotes Joe Walsh, Yellow Book’s president and CEO:

"We feel that Click Forward is the best of breed and is a natural fit within our portfolio of products," said Joe Walsh, President and CEO of Yellow Book USA. "By working with Click Forward, Yellow Book will be able to continue to connect buyers and sellers together in a way that will provide more choices to the consumer and a great return on investment for small business owners. The acquisition of Click Forward represents another step in Yellow Book’s continued focus on the internet. With over 5,000 sales people nationwide, it makes sense for Yellow Book to innovate and expand its product offerings both in print and online."

Now Yellow Book can sell search clicks along with its other suite of traditional ad products (it fully controls the offering). The acquisition indicates just how far Yellow Book has come. Formerly a big skeptic of the Internet, Yellow Book is the first to bring one of these "simplified search" businesses in-house. This may set in motion events that result in more consolidation or similar acquisitions by other YP companies. We’ll see.

The move is good for Click Forward because it was one of the smaller and less established players in this market. In addition to the YP publishers, expect more newspapers this year to offer similar products to their local advertisers.

As we’ve argued before, traditional media sales channels are the primary way that local businesses will get into paid search marketing — in the near term.

Here’s the press release.

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