Talkin’ ‘Tags’ With Yext CEO Howard Lerman

As my colleague Jed Williams has previously written, Yext’s Tags initiative is a big one, going up against Google Places with a broad (and “open”) network of 20 participating Internet Yellow Pages and online directory sites, including AOL’s MapQuest and Patch, Citysearch, Superpages, Yahoo and Yellowbook.

Yext CEO Howard Lerman describes Tags as “full-time, real listing information” that will eventually go beyond simply updating text promotions. Future versions will also include deals and photos. “You can do a lot of things,” says Lerman.

All these things require businesses to take it into their own hands to update the tags. It won’t be a problem once SMBs see how easy it is to do, says Lerman. “It is a myth that SMBs won’t self-service.”

As for pricing, Lerman explains that the $99 monthly fee has been designed to be split between Yext, as the host, and participating publishers. The fee, of course, is considerably higher than Google Tags, which are priced at $25 a month. Lerman believes they are being deliberately under-priced in order to position an upsell with Google Boost.

But the network reach will be greater, and the ease of adding new publishers easily justifies the fee. If Google wanted to join the Tag network, all the merrier, says Lerman.

Meanwhile, the royalty share for publishers is based on “a complex model of usage,” with three tiers. A well-used Citysearch tag, for instance, might be in the first tier, while some smaller affiliates might be receiving third-tier revenues. Any publisher that brings in the advertiser will also get a chunk of Yext’s host fee, adds Lerman.

For Yext, Lerman emphasizes that the tag initiative is an especially important one. The company’s business today is largely based on pay-per-call services, which remain robust, he says. But revenues from tags should surpass pay per call “within six months.”

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