Canpages Relaunches; $60 Video Ads Featured

Canpages, the energized Hicks Muse-owned rival to YPG, has rolled out revised versions of its print Yellow Pages along with a unified brand and a dramatic new Web site, which officially launches at the end of next week. The new Web site has “Google Maps and Satellite Images “as its calling card  a feature the company is touting on the cover of its 40 print books.

Featured on the Web site are such Web 2.0 features as $60 a month video ads (for 12 month contracts), easy text message forwarding; mapped locations for searches (i.e., Indian restaurants) that scroll down past all the alphabetical listings when moused-over; and neighborhood name breakouts. To my eyes, it is pretty much the state-of-the-art.

Company President and CEO Olivier Vincent, the former leader of SuperPages Canada and a 20-year Yellow Pages veteran, says Hicks Muse sees tremendous opportunity in Canada, where YPG has long ruled. While he respects YPG as a company, “there are so many cities without competition.”

To date, most of Canpages’ markets are in the West  including its biggest books, in Vancouver and Calgary. But last year, the company rolled out some new books in Ontario, and it will continue pushing eastward. In all, the company hired 200 salespeople last year  including some YPG veterans who were recently laid off amid company downsizing. The salespeople are entirely focused on selling Canpages and for now, won’t be used to sell for other companies (i.e., Google and Yahoo! click packages).

Vincent adds that the company is going to go “all out” to make the books a comprehensive, one-stop resource, complemented by the Web site. In Vancouver, for instance, it has provided 120 pages of front-of-the-book content  stuff that is often being relegated to the Web site by other companies. Promotions-wise, it has an aggressive billboard campaign and is working closely with radio station contests, which have been provided with some barter space in the book. “We’re creating usage,” he says. “We’ll be above $100 million in a couple of years.”

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