New Kid on the Block for Canada Local Search

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New Canadian local search destination Weblocal.ca has launched. The site is the product of a partnership between Canadian publisher Transcontinental and social/local pure play YellowBot (see profile).

The site is one of Transcon’s first moves into online local search. As the fourth-largest print publisher in Canada, most of its publishing assets are in consumer magazines and newspapers (and associated Web sites). Transcontinental’s size and clear interest in chasing an online local search strategy will guarantee a level of investment, while YellowBot will bring lots of social and “Web 2.0″ sensibilities to the table.

Right off the bat, visitors to the home page are met with video, social networking, reviews and photo sharing features (see screen shot below). YellowBot’s signature tag-based taxonomy is also clearly present in a “browse by popular tags” section on the home page.

Meanwhile, the Canadian online local search space is remarkably consolidated compared with the runaway fragmentation we see in the U.S. market. Yellow Pages Group owns the lion’s share of traffic, while independent publishers like Canpages have come along to take a certain amount of share by competing on features (see recent redesign).

Then you have upstarts like ZipLocal (profile) that are trying to breathe some Web 2.0 appeal into new products to compete in this market. That’s where Weblocal.ca comes in, and we expect that Transcon’s brand equity and cross promotional abilities, combined with YellowBot’s technological chops, will position it well to take some share from this short list of competitors.

The site also hits the ground running with respect to local ad sales. Transcon has 400 local reps selling print products and 125 Web properties under its publishing umbrella. Some of these sites could also come in handy with content generation: Local news and events can be cross-pollinated with Weblocal.ca’s content.

We’re scheduled to talk to both companies soon and will dive a little deeper on these possible outcomes.

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