Attendees at The Kelsey Group’s ILM:08 conference received a multinational view on what is working in the “new” business directory space. The panel included iLocal CEO Pieter Grasdjik (Netherlands); Chris Smith, Sensis’ general manager of online search and directories (Australia); Insider Pages’ Eric Peacock (United States); and My Virtual Paper’s Manoj Verma (Canada).
Here’s a glimpse at what is working for some of these providers:
ILocal credits its success to an ROI-based guaranteed leads offering that is sold through its own quickly growing field sales force (currently at 75 FTEs and will likely double in the next year.) The company, which expanded from the Netherlands to Belgium in June 2008, is scheduled to hit breakeven by the middle of 2009.
Insider Pages believes there are two factors that have helped it evolve from a cash-flow negative business in March 2007 with 2.5 million uniques and 550,000 reviews to an IAC-owned business that in October 2008 claimed 5.5 million uniques and 1 million reviews with positive cash flow. Those factors are Insider Pages’ pay-for-performance value proposition and Citysearch’s sales force, which Peacock indicated have helped move the firm from one that was burning cash to one that is throwing off cash.
My Virtual Paper, which just today announced an agreement with Yellow Pages Group Canada, has found that it needs to “digitize to monetize.” What Verma talked about is My Virtual Paper’s focus on taking print-ready materials and digitizing them to make them searchable online. Those print materials include menus, brochures and catalogs to give SMBs a richer online experience.
Sensis has been incredibly successful in its last fiscal year not only growing online revenues, but also growing print revenues. Part of the company’s success is tied to its pitch to SMBs in which it tells them to provide the content and Sensis will do the hard work. That hard work (done by a 2,000-person sales force) includes providing a multi-channel approach — IYP, print, GPS, classifieds, mobile and other platforms.