Universal Business Listing first launched as a “list once, be found everywhere” label to enable SMB listings to comprehensively populate the “fragmented Web.” However, with social media fueling an even more fragmented Web, UBL is now coupling listing enhancement with presence management — a move that puts it in competition with such players as Marchex, MerchantCircle, Yext Rep and ReachLocal (through its acquisition of SMB Live).
It is also expanding beyond the U.S., with operations set to begin in the U.K. and several other European countries. European operations will focus on “business ID management” — not just getting SMBs distributed and discovered, but also enhancing, monitoring and modifying their online storefronts.
Inner Balloons founder Robin Allenson has been recruited to serve as managing director of UBL Europe. He told BIA/Kelsey that moving into the U.K. and Europe represents a natural business extension because of the “awareness of the need” for similar products internationally that transcend simply being found and “encapsulate” the diffuse Web.
The European launch is under way in 10 markets in the U.K., with expansion into Germany and the Netherlands this year, followed by Austria, Switzerland and Belgium in 2011. Further U.K. market penetration will pivot on partnerships, as the majority of UBL’s business comes from white labeling platforms for SEO, CPC and other search providers to utilize for their SMBs.
While some would believe that UBL competes with listings companies, Allenson insists they are valuable partners with existing advertiser relationships that can build off UBL’s platform to achieve wider distribution for their clients.
Pricing ranges from 30 pounds ($46) per year for bulk purchase to 35 pounds ($54) for a smaller number of listings to 45 pounds ($69) for a la carte. Partners receive a one-two punch of services that begins with universal platform distribution and widens to presence management.
UBL CEO Doyal Bryant emphasized that while there is pressing need for presence management, standard listing enhancement also requires more detail and texture than ever. SMB profiles now have numerous rich media and sharing capabilities, from video and photo uploads to blogging to social media connectivity. Mobile and GPS accuracy are also vital for listings to be discovered. Altogether, these features can improve SEO and empower online sellers to use pay-per-action (PPA) models for higher conversion.