Denver-based Local Matters announced a major deal with European Directories “whereby Local Matters will develop and enhance the online white and yellow pages websites across European Directories’ 8-country publishing operations,” according to the press release issued today.
European Directories is a London-based, private-equity-owned publishing holding company with operations in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden.
TKG has learned that European Directories has already developed the Local Matters “Local Mosaic” platform in Finland (www.02.fi) and will roll it out across the remaining seven markets over the next 12 to 18 months.
This morning, TKG spoke with European Directories’ Simon Greenman (MD-online), who said a key advantage of moving from multiple platforms to a common platform is that “We get scale from our online investment. We will be able to build it once and deploy it eight times.” Greenman adds that this will greatly increase ED’s pace of product development and speed to market.
In an e-mail exchange following the announcement, Local Matters CEO Perry Evans noted that in general, the online directory market in Europe is advancing at a rapid pace right now. Much of what is happening involves taking things proven out in competitive U.S. search markets and applying them in Europe, offering a first mover advantage in many instances. An example is the map-based search implemented in Finland via the new 02.fi platform.
Evans also made an observation shared by TKG, which is that many European publishers are in stronger competitive positions online than the leading U.S. directory companies.
“Most countries have in market positions in the top 10 traffic sites to begin with, and have advanced to online revenues of 20 percent to 25 percent of total media revenues. This gives them a much stronger point of leverage for growth than their U.S. counterparts.”
Evans cited the following as key “themes of advancement” in the European directory market:
- Integrated Approaches to SEO/SEM. “Combining their website traffic and advertising distribution models.”
- Social Media. “Expanding on and beyond ratings/reviews into new models of engagement.”
- Vertical Search. “There is a lot of interest in leveraging ‘mash-up’ approaches to extend media reach into specialty publications. Most European countries are less populated with competing city guides or vertical market guides or (occasionally) even consumer mapping sites, so there is more of a ‘green field’ opportunity.”