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Yell has announced that its iPhone app is available for download in Apple’s App Store. It has been available previously but it’s now official. The app itself will allow users to search the 2 million local business listings on (see the promo video).

This comes weeks after the publisher announced that its mobile search widget will come pre-loaded in the “widget gallery” of Samsung phones sold in the U.K. It also comes as the iPhone begins to take the U.K. by storm. It’s now available there from three carriers (Vodofone, O2 and Orange) and price competition is further driving adoption.

Yell’s head of mobile, David Pearce, spoke two weeks ago at DMS and expressed excitement over the iPhone’s growth potential in the U.K. market and elsewhere where the publisher has properties. Much of this has to do with the higher levels of engagement of iPhone users and the device’s leading traffic share among smartphones.

He also showed interesting data around mobile searches in general — further solidifying the opportunity for publishers. In this case, he filled a missing data gap, which supported the notion that mobile searches are happening times and places when people are away from their PCs (read: incremental).

So as publishers move toward the leads-based model they are all talking about (delivering business leads across platforms), mobile can be viewed simply as a source of more leads. This viewpoint may undervalue mobile leads, or the levels to which they convert vs. online or print. But it’s an easy way for publishers to swallow the concept of mobile monetization at early stages.

Eventually, there will of course be discreet monetization in certain categories known for high-value leads (autos, etc.). There is also an opportunity to monetize categories or headings that underperform in print or online; Pearce’s data show that mobile doesn’t just bring incremental leads, but also incremental categories.



This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. For a leading publisher like Yell it would be interesting to understand the strategy behind mobile. This appears to suggest is that there are some nice tactical elements but no real direction to establishing the channel. The iPhone is a niche device (3% of marketshare of top 100 devices) yet takes a disproportial amount of focus – Nokia have well over 30%.

    Also why are they looking to compete at a map level when their core competencies are around the listings they have? They will never be able to compete on that basis due to the investment being made by the likes of Google and Nokia.

  2. I explained in my presentation that our focus isn’t on iPhone only, but iPhone produces a disproportunate amount of mobile searches. We’ve had services for Nokia et al for the past few years, but the ‘niche’ iPhone is currently producing in excess of 50% of mobile Internet usage in the UK. When more ‘smart’ phones (I prefer to refer to them as just the next generation of mobile devices) hit the market at lower prices (I’m thinking Chinese manufacture/Android, and soon), I believe we’ll see this usage pattern take off amongst a wider base of users.

    To the second point, Yell is not looking to compete at a map level. We compete by focusing on our core competence, local search advertising. Display of results on a map is just one option.

  3. Oh, and one more thing (copyright Steve Jobs), I did make the point in my presentation that mobile searches may be inherently more valuable at particular times and in particular contexts. A search for a taxi from a mobile at 2am (when the consumer is likely to ‘buy’ immediately, the ‘I want it now’ need for immediate gratification) would seem to me to have more value than a desktop search at 2pm (when the consumer may just be looking to compare prices for an airport transfer in a few weeks time). We’re working on this.

  4. Robert has a point in questioning the underlying strategy, versus tactical elements that we see from Yell. In the US a high percentage of mobile traffic too comes from iPhone users, very little of that is, or is likely to be, linked to classified search. We know these guys are very service transient as many have up to 50 apps installed but only use a handful frequently.

    The top ten searches that you display for mobile have historically been pretty tough for the Yellow publisher to monitize – in mobile are you making money from these sectors in the UK?

    Calls conversion ratio on mobile obvious. Not sure I get your point on cabs one ride is worth $20 the other could be $200?

  5. It’s relatively early days, but we’re still seeing a disproportionate amount of our mobile search traffic coming from iPhone. The point I tried to make earlier is that I see the same trend continuing when other ‘iPhone like’ devices come to market in volume in the UK. Future growth is not necessarily from iPhone per se, but from the iPhone ‘concept’.

    Agree with the point that some classifications have been tough to monetize in the past. My taxi example is to illustrate that we *may* be able to monitize the $20 transaction as the 2am mobile search means that this is likely to happen, whereas the 2pm $200 transaction may not (as people decide to use a less expensive mode of transportation).

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