ZipLocal, the U.S. independent directory publisher, has launched a new “hyper local” leads-based advertising model called Local Leads that taps into a distribution network featuring 18 properties and 80 billion monthly impressions, according to ZipLocal execs who briefed us last week. The main players in the network are CityGrid, SuperMedia, Chitika and DiscoverOurTown.
ZipLocal is the publisher that comprises the former Phone Directories Corp. and DataNational. The two entities were combined earlier this year when Canada’s Yellow Pages Group acquired its rival Canpages.
According to ZipLocal execs Olivier Vincent and John Eliott, the model will be a pay-for-performance model with a cap, so local advertisers will only pay for qualified calls that their ads generate. The price per lead is segmented by category so an attorney pays more for a lead than a restaurant.
Vincent told us that ZipLocal itself has 700 sales reps and 200,000 advertisers. By tapping into its network of Immersifind (IYP platform) partners, Local Leads could potentially be represented by more than 1,700 reps and have access to 300,000 advertisers.
Clearly Local Leads represents an opportunity for distribution partners looking to monetize more local content.
Additionally, providing smaller publishers, those with just a few print books and a small sales force, with a viable online offering is another huge opportunity (one also being pursued by CityGrid). However, the challenge in training up small print-focused salespeople to sell a performance-based product cannot be underestimated. Given his background running independent directory publishing companies, Vincent understands this as well as anyone.
Interestingly, ZipLocal will use human operators, aided by technology, to provide call qualification. Increasingly, we are seeing call qualification as table stakes in leads-based models, either involving speech-to-text technology that produces transcripts that are mined for keywords or direct human intervention. This enables the provider to charge a premium for leads of certified quality while avoiding arguments about paying for worthless calls.
Before the Canpages acquisition in March, YPG owned DataNational, while Canpages and PDC (later renamed ZipLocal) were owned by the same private equity group (Hicks Capital). Immersifind, the platform provider developed by Canpages, was paired with ZipLocal as part of the deal.