Jake Winebaum, president of RHDi and CEO of Business.com, a self-admitted neophyte in the local search space, shared his unique “new guy” perspective of the state of selling local search to small businesses at ILM:07. Now working for a large incumbent directory publisher, R.H Donnelley, Winebaum outlined a number of critical challenges and advantages of incumbents including:
- Brand history can impede incumbents from doing what is necessary to meet consumer needs since they must also be concerned about balancing the needs of their existing advertiser base.
- To compete effectively in local search, companies need to aggregate a critical mass of advertisers and queries to make local search work.
- Local search on IYP needs to be more keyword and geographically based to deliver more relevancy and more loyal users.
- The winners in local search will be those that leverage their existing sales force and advertiser base and make search accessible and easy to manage.
- Deep, structured, relevant content that can be aggregated for easy use will help win over small advertisers.
- Transparency of pricing and results to advertisers is critical; if SMBs are not savvy now they will be in a very short timeframe.
While many questioned the acquisition of Business.com, the real value for RHD is the advancement of its online strategy by 12 to 18 months. “The acquisition provided RHD with an experienced online management team, more effective content management, search technology and user navigation that will allow the site to function more effectively to drive consumer traffic,” Winebaum said.
“An additional benefit of the acquisition,” according to Winebaum, “is that B2B companies are a high growth rate segment that spends a greater amount of money on their advertising in order to generate high quality leads.” As an example it was revealed Business.com is generating $0.60 revenue per visit, offering RHD a high return vehicle going forward in the B2B segment.
With all its online properties now under one RHDi management team, the focus is on creating more pay-for-performance products on the publisher’s own properties as well as partner networks. This move may also signal a pay-for-performance model being utilized across all its advertising products.