Starting this fall, Idearc Media’s Superpages may be accessed via instant messaging as a result of a new relationship with Multiplied Media, the Calgary-based provider of Poynt, a local search service that operates over IM. Multiplied Media was formerly known as IllumiCell. Poynt currently hosts Yellow Pages Group’s Internet Yellow Pages and classifieds in Canada.
“It is all about driving purchasers to the merchant,” says Multiplied Media CEO John Lowe. “We’re disseminating merchant information; getting them to click to chat; getting them to make reservations; buy a ticket – whatever.”
Lowe says IM has proved to be very user-centric for local search. “It is intuitive, very quick and easy to use as possible. And there is no spam inside the system. The trend is accessing information across multiple platforms. Our core capability is optimizing across networks.”
Several years ago, there was a flurry of experimentation around instant messaging. The problem in the pre-BlackBerry age was that small businesses were not ready to respond to IM queries. Lowe says that hasn’t proved to be a significant problem in this generation of users.
“Younger age groups are living on IM” more than any other platform, he says. Older users are also well penetrated at this point. And they’re using IM as the platform for voice, video, click-to-chat and click-to-call. “With IM … people are instantly connecting with merchants.”
In some respects, IM is proving to be more than just an alternative platform – except it doesn’t have the archiving capabilities of e-mail. One prediction, by Gartner Group U.K., is that “by the end of 2011, IM will be the de facto tool for voice, video and text chat with 95 percent of workers in leading global organizations using it as their primary interface for real-time communications by 2013.”
While it is hard to gauge actual demand for the product, Lowe notes that in the first several weeks of testing with YPG, there were 200,000 queries.
The other issue, of course, will be to get the word out. No specifics on a promotional campaign, however, have been finalized with Idearc at this point. Lowe anticipates it will be ironed out sometime this summer.
While the Idearc deal will begin with AOL Instant Messaging and its 42 million U.S. users, Lowe says it will be extended to a variety of IM channels in the near future. MSN Instant Messenger has been in testing since May and will launch later this summer.