We have been discussing the issue of the potential for Internet Yellow Pages offered by print publishers. The question is whether IYPs can be sufficiently significant to merit the necessary investment.
At our recent Drilling Down on Local conference, one of our keynote speakers, Peter Horan, CEO of IAC Media & Advertising, gave a speech titled “What’s Local Really About?” He said we are “now in the second decade of local: So much promise. So much logic. So little progress. How come?” His answer was that we are in the age of Internet-driven media where local isn’t about reading, it’s about doing.
Peter told the audience that the litmus test for local is usefulness, but he went on to describe the issue that has been facing city sites since they evolved from being mere bulletin boards hosted by a techie in a community. He called this the Grand Canyon of local — the trade-off between efficiency and effectiveness. Few media are able to bridge this gap. In order to keep costs down, city sites need self-service, low cost of sales and abundant promotional coverage at very low prices. But to meet the needs of consumers and advertisers, they require such high-expense items as a strong sales force, unique content and broad market coverage. Under Peter’s leadership, Citysearch is well on its way.
Print publishers have a product that is local by definition. We have long subscribed to the research that suggests that 80 percent of a person’s purchases of goods and services are made within 20 miles of home or business. Ultimately, success for the advertiser, whether in a city guide or any other local search product, is generating leads. A print Yellow Pages publisher does that through the book that is in a home or business. IYP is a complementary method of helping advertisers bring in new customers. Successful print publishers, especially independents, will offer a wide range of lead-generating products.