Dex One Corporation (…) today announced a distribution agreement with Citysearch, an operating business of IAC. Dex One advertisers will now have the option to have their listings appear across CityGrid, the largest content and ad network for local, as well as DexKnows.com, Dex One’s popular online local search site.
What it means: It makes complete sense strategically for Dex One to expand their product portfolio, leveraging their sales force to sell into Citysearch CityGrid network. On a related note, Dex One had signed a content agreement with Yelp about three weeks ago. In the future, we’ll see more and more of these reciprocal agreements featuring content aggregation and sales channel.
April 6, 2009
I’m a bit late writing about this news (Greg Sterling wrote about it here and the Kelsey Group guys here) but RHD has just released a series of DexKnows mobile apps & services. I recently had the opportunity to connect with Deborah Eldred, Director of Mobile at RHD, to discuss the new offer.
- Developed by MobilePeople
- Covers the whole mobile “value chain”: text messages, mobile browser version, downloadable client applications, iPhone application
- They looked at ComScore data to focus development on the most important phone models/carriers
- They developed a specific search “taxonomy” by looking at top categories in a mobile context. They also regrouped categories in three most-used metacategories called Gettin’ Grub (food & restaurants), Havin’ Fun (entertainment), Goin’ Places (travel)
- Search results are ranked by centroid, currently the center of the city, but eventually the user geo-location
I asked Deborah how the Dexknows offer was differentiated from other offers out there. She mentioned the following:
- Focused on relevant experience for mobile users (as opposed to advertiser-focused)
- Most important mobile categories have been grouped and surfaced on the home page
- People search (data provided by Whitepages.com)
- RHD covers the whole mobile value chain, from text messages to iPhone app
- They have great content in their in-region territory.
What it means: happy to see that directory publishers are releasing new mobile apps. Obviously, in the medium/long term, it is a critical component of the distribution mix. But I think, in the short term, it plays an important perceptual role with the sales team and advertisers.
March 16, 2009
According to CTV’s Chris Abel, CanPages.ca, the local search site of [praized subtype="small" pid="58d245fd7e8f20800dee0ecd3af21f08" type="badge" dynamic="true"], the independent Canadian directory publisher, has launched its own Street View feature. CanPages has partnered with San Francisco-based MapJack to deploy this technology in Canada. Abel says it’s very similar to Google Street View but includes new features such as ”a fullscreen mode and paths that explore pedestrian walkways as much as they do the streets ruled by cars and trucks.”
You can see it in searches in Vancouver, Whistler, or Squamish (all in British Columbia). As for future expansion, “the company plans to expand to include Street Views of Toronto and Montreal next, followed by as much of Canada as possible.”
In the last few days, an ad for a video camera operator has appeared in a Quebec job site, making people think Google was going to capture Quebec City in Street View. It’s possible but I suspect it might be an ad for the first French Canadian street view deployment of CanPages.ca.
What it means: looking at the introduction of new features inside the CanPages.ca site in the last 6-12 months, it’s clear that the exec team there has identified feature gaps inside YellowPages.ca, the main property of Yellow Pages Group (and directory incumbent in Canada) and are trying to differentiate themselves via those new features. It’s a good strategic move. On the other side, YPG has a mapping agreement with Microsoft and I’m fairly certain the Redmond giant is also taking street view pictures (many people on Twitter have reported seeing the Microsoft vehicle taking pictures). This will certainly be easy for YPG to deploy once it’s available in Canada. As I reported a few weeks ago, the new DexKnows.com has a nice integration of Google Maps and Street View.
February 6, 2009
Had the opportunity this week to sit down (virtually) with Jeff Porter (VP / General Manager DexKnows.com at RH Donnelley) and some of his team members to go through the various features/functionalities of the new DexKnows.com site. The new site was designed and built by the Business.com team (which was acquired by RHD in 2007). It’s using Lucene open source search technology. The site is currently in beta and offers multiple improvements over the last few versions.
Main areas of improvements include
- A simplified user interface (more search engine-like)
- A clear focus on breadth, depth and quality of local data
- Better drill-down results both from a hyperlocal and hypervertical point of view
I jotted down the following random notes on what struck me as interesting with the new site:
- Introduction of geo-taxonomy (love that word!). The site offers users different levels of geographic drill-down including metro, city, neighborhood and landmarks. One of the challenges of local search sites is “guessing” the user geo-intent. Is the user searching for the specific city or for the metro area? In this case, the team decided that they would return multi-city metro results in a refine page showing users additional geo-refining options. For example, a search for Pizza in Seattle assumes by default that you’re doing a metro-area search. It leads you to a metro page showing you very basic listing information and all the metro city options. Those simplified basic listings remind of Google local search results. Depending on headings (think restaurants or lawyers), you can also drill down on “specialties” (think “family-friendly” for restaurants or the types of lawyers). If you select individual cities within a metro area, you get to a city page with more detailed business listings. You can then drill down to specific neighborhoods.
- Category suggestions based on keyword entered (not the same as keyword suggestions!). It allows for a better mapping between unstructured keyword search and structured results.
- As usual, each business has a profile page. I really like the integration of Google Street View in there. Makes me think this business profile would be tremendously valuable in mobile situations (think Dexknows iPhone app).
- If you search for service categories where work is usually accomplished in your home (plumbers, electrician, etc.), you get a service area map instead of the specific location of the merchant. The scope of the merchant service area is determined by the print directories in which they advertise.
- You can do brand search (try “Nintendo in Denver“) but you can’t combine keywords (try “Nintendo used games in Denver”, it should return you this merchant but results in a failed search). It’s really the only place we’re I was truly disappointed with results.
- I have to mention they have a very nice admin section for their advertisers where they can manage their listings and profiles, view their different products and get an estimate of the traffic they should be getting.
What it means: I really like what the RHD team has done with their new site. In the online directories arms war, the game seems to be focused on two main elements: simplified usage and quality of data. And the RHD online team is definitely focused on those elements, the same way we were at Yellow Pages Group when I was there. But it also made me realize that the industry is still very much looking at Google (or Yahoo or MSN) as the local search benchmark. Instead of doing incremental innovation, how do you leapfrog search engines? In other words, what is keeping Google up at night? The answer to that question leads to a possible new strategic direction. Community, humans, social interactions, marketplaces are what’s keeping Google up at night. Facebook and Linkedin (for example) have built up amazing identity and social graph connection systems, which they can (and will) leverage as much as they can. And we will get to ask ourselves the age-old question: who do we trust most? Man or Machine?
Update: the official announcement.