Palore: ‘Forget Listings, I Want Just One Thing’

We’re all guilty of feature creep. A lot of the stuff isn’t especially useful. Now comes Palore. When it comes to directory listings, Palore believes hardly any of the info is useful. In fact, consumers want to know just one thing

It isn’t much different than what LongTail author Chris Anderson said at the YPA show a few weeks ago (per Ken Clark’s YP Talk). “Consumers are saying ‘I don’t care that the dry cleaners hasn’t chosen to list the hours they are open, it is the information I’m looking for, and without it, your products may be considered inaccurate or a failure.’

My gut reaction is to just pile on the copy points and keep adding features (like user reviews). There are, after all, a number of reasons why a consumer chooses a business. But Palore co-founder Hanan Lifshitz says that a survey of a couple hundred of users shows they’re more in line with Anderson’s thoughts.

“The interesting thing was that they all wanted just one thing and didn’t care much about the rest.  It was all about users wanting to see something very specific and personalized to them when making a local search,” says Lifshitz, an Israeli who had previously started a banner exchange network.  “They didn’t want more reviews or better maps. They wanted to know things like:

* The size of a restaurant’s wine list
* Does the business have handicap access?
* Is the business sustainable / vegetarian / organic etc.
* Is there free wifi access?
* Did the restaurant win any award?

With such results in mind, Lifshitz launched Palore in Israel a year ago. The service quickly got 100,000 – quite a landmark in a small country – capped it there, and has been working on bringing it stateside since then. He’s raised $1 million from angels to do so, and has set up shop in the Bay Area.

“People are going to still use Google and Yahoo. But we want to enhance the user experience.” What Palore is doing is providing a plug in that rides on top of a Google Maps or a Yahoo Maps search. It crawls the web and summarizes related information about a business. Users can click on site icons to get more complete information.

In San Francisco, for instance, Palore will add related information for coffee houses from coffeeratings.com. The summary includes rating points, espresso makers used, etc. Going back to the site, by clicking on Palore’s coffee bean icon (a new feature), will tell you what the reviewer thought and add additional information. Similarly, a Vegan site, with related info, will be marked with an icon;  sites that allow dogs, etc.

“There are endless amounts of information. There are hundreds of attributes per business,” says Lifshitz, who notes that the business model is to sell contextual ads around searches, place referrals, and rank advertisers on top of searches. The service may also set up user groups and other social network features.

For sure, Palore is an interesting and fun service to use, and it is likely to become richer to use as more vertical content develops.  But like many vertical sites, I think its searches will prove the exception, not the rule. When people are searching, I think they ultimately want the whole enchilada.  And if someone is willing to go deep enough to look at fringe data, they’re likely to pore over dozens of listings, not just the top ranked ones. But don’t you like the innovation?

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