The “Deconstructing Internet Yellow Pages” panel at DMS ’08 revealed a number of areas in which IYPs need to evolve. Based on Kelsey’s IYP research, conference chair and TKG Program Director Charles Laughlin said, “IYPs appear too conservative and unwilling to do what it takes to win in the local search space.”
One of the key areas consumers value in IYPs remains accuracy of data, but items like look and feel and the ability to add and share information have risen to the top. Two of the “new breed” IYP sites, Brownbook.net and YellowBot, are certainly listening to consumers and responding with uniquely positioned sites.
While major IYPs have advanced, they appear more oriented to supporting advertisers than the consumer. According to David Ingram, CEO of Brownbook.net: “There seems to be a mismatch between what consumers want and what the directory industry sees as important. Consumers want ease of use and accuracy versus publishers, who seem to focus more on advertiser-driven needs.”
The need to structure data to make searching for and finding relevant information easier was viewed by most of the panelists to be vital in providing a satisfying experience on their sites. The challenge is structuring the content you control amid the vast amount of information on the Web, such as user reviews, consumer-generated content and other disparate data. According to Morgan Zimmerman, VP business development for Exalead, “Consumers are looking for more localized information and demanding it from the sites they use and prefer — in an easy to digest manner.”
Taking a counterpoint was Erron Silverstein, cofounder and CEO of YellowBot, who felt consumers alter the way they search too frequently to adequately structure local search. “Tagging listing information shows you how to classify the information and how people are searching and offers suggestions to the advertiser base on how to connect. You need to let the consumer direct the structure.”
The conclusion of the panel is that the current view of an IYP site needs to evolve with a more consumer-focused approach, which in turn will drive more traffic and ultimately better quality leads for advertisers. James Ashford, president of Yellow Assistance, summed it up when he said: “The user experience is key, and how they want to use your site will dictate how best to design and set up your functionality. Ultimately the users will supply the appropriate content and how they want it served up; this will drive the traffic your advertisers need.”