Is there still a role in local search for a “niche” provider like Gannett’s Planet Discover? The question comes up after Boston.com VP of Product Bob Kempf said there really is no substitute for a major search engine tie, and that alternative solutions would be “second rate.”
Planet Discover CEO David Lenzen certainly thinks there is a role for his company. In a note written in response to the Boston.com post, Lenzen articulates several reasons why the company is still relevant. I thought it was interesting enough to merit more than just a “comment.” I’ll be talking with Lenzen in depth next week. But in the meantime, here is the text of his note:
Niche companies like Planet Discover, while not necessarily having the massive powerof a major search engine, make up for that by focusing in on a narrower set of data. In Planet Discover’s case, it is local search. Planet Discover realizes it is not just about search power alone, it is about providing search relevancy that is tied to local businesses. Local search users are not interested in buying from acme.com, they want to find a local business with the products or services they are looking for.
On the other side of the search coin a local advertiser wants to pay for ads that are going to drive sales to their business. The market for local advertising is to get people into your store not necessarily your web site. For example, say I want a used musical instrument. I am not going to go to a major search site and search for ‘used trumpet,’ I am going to get a bunch of auction sales and other online businesses where I won’t be able to go and touch or play the instrument before making a purchase. I want to go to a local site, put in ‘used trumpet,’ and get results for local dealers. From there I can bring up the integrated map and see where the business is and read reviews from local customers.
As the article also stated. it is much more about the local brand, such as Boston.com, than who is providing the search. In many cases people don’t even know who, or how, the search works, they just like the results they get.
In addition to providing the local directory search, Planet Discover has a very extendable search platform that allows for a wide range of data sources to be indexed and controlled. This allows us to provide local search solutions for content sources such as news articles, blogs, auto listings, and real estate that are either too diverse or small for a larger company to deal with.
Planet Discover’s platform allows for variable indexing intervals, giving much more immediacy to data that large search engines do not necessarily provide. This allows articles that a newspaper publishes on their web site to be available almost immediately in the search results. Large search engines can take days or even months for those kinds of results to gain relevancy.