Why Internet Yellow Pages Can Compete for Local Search

Last week, we raised the issue of the potential for Internet Yellow Pages offered by print publishers. In a world where people seem to be routinely going to Google, Yahoo! and a few other sites for all their information needs, how can even the strongest IYP brand compete? In this note, I want to outline a few of the reasons why The Kelsey Group continues to predict that IYP will grow faster than local search over the next few years.

First and foremost, print publishers have an outstanding sales force in place. Sales reps are often not enthusiastic about selling IYP because of lack of product understanding and experience and a concern about being turned down by the customer. However, we believe sales representatives will receive an increasing amount of training that will give them the confidence to sell IYP. Further, newer sales reps will naturally be better at selling electronic. In the meantime, Google’s plan to create its own sales force does not strike me as being economically viable for anyone involved.

Secondly, print publishers are continually improving their IYP offerings. Yellowbook.com‘s humorous advertisements did a good job of educating consumers about going online to find basic category information.

IYP offers both White and Yellow Pages, and this is a service that customers can’t get as easily through the search engines. Importantly, publishers need to do a better job of telling consumers that their people pages are the best in the business.

Fourth, several of the print publishers are enhancing their IYP products so people can search either through the traditional Yellow Pages classifications or using a more local search-like approach. IYP is too important to print publishers for them not to make a significant commitment to its success. They have the money to do the research to learn what customers like and need, and they are going to provide products that are valuable.

A fifth reason why I believe IYP has a real opportunity for growth is in vicinity searching on mobile phones. The Kelsey Group believes one of the most significant opportunities online is for IYP companies to work with mobile devices. This will succeed if publishers are able to get their logo and IYP service on future 3G and 4G cellphones.

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