YP Makes a Big Push in Search

YP has made a major push in the past week to become a bigger player in search and to do more to monetize its own search traffic on YP.com, as well as its mobile apps. In the past week the company has made two significant search related announcements.

Last week, YP unveiled ypSearch, a new search platform that is aimed at using YP’s sizable traffic, 80 million monthly visitors, in combination with major search engine traffic to deliver leads to small-business advertisers.

A unique feature of ypSearch will be its ability to fulfill and create search marketing campaigns across both major search engines as well as the core YP.com IYP portal, where ypSearch ad units will be displayed alongside relevant YP.com business listings.

By combining campaign fulfillment and management under a single search marketing platform, operated directly by YP, the company hopes to create greater efficiency in managing portfolio-wide cost-per-lead, as well as within high-traffic advertiser verticals. This will likely allow for margin increases in time, as third-party SEM vendor platforms are taken out of the process, and greater campaign transparency and control are brought in-house.

ypSearch will support campaigns across the major search engines initially (Google, Bing/Yahoo) — but may include other traffic and lead sources in the future.

This week, YP announced ypSearch Marketplace, which is a keyword-bidded local search marketplace that is aimed at pulling major brand messages into local markets. This announcement fits right into the national brands/local targeting theme of BIA/Kelsey’s National conference, taking place later this month in Dallas.

ypSearch Marketplace is the company’s biggest move into the emerging programmatic advertising space. The new platform allows agency and brand advertisers to directly purchase YP ad/search inventory in a similar fashion to other programmatic advertising.

Both announcements fit into some broader theme taking place at YP. One is the movement to own more of the technology that drives the business, and be less reliant on third parties to drive key businesses like search. The second is to make owned and operated traffic a bigger component of search, which of course means better margins for YP.

The company also argues that its owned and operated traffic is also good for advertisers. The company cited data from a study it conducted with comscore showing that people who initiate a search on YP are more influenced by advertising that those who begin a search elsewhere, with 66 percent making a purchase post search, and 61 percent searching for businesses that they saw in an ad.

In a briefing last week with BIA/Kelsey analysts, YP CTO Darren Clark discussed the larger context around these new announcements.

One key point was that YP is now generating much more of its traffic via organic means, rather than via paid search. The company used to be heavily reliant on paid search to bring users to its door.

“We have gotten a lot better at SEO,” Clark told us. “We are much less dependent on SEM.”

As YP launches new platforms to better monetize its own traffic, the company’s sales approach is evolving as well. The sales conversations are increasingly about getting found by ready to buy consumers and on targeting the right audience.

“We are tilting everything toward lead delivery,” Clark said.

BIA/Kelsey’s Abid Chaudhry contributed to this post.

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