A Look at the New YP.com Print Advertising Campaign

YellowPages.com has recently rebranded to YP.com and it looks like they have started to promote the new brand in print publications. I found a full-page ad in the latest print issue of Entertainment Weekly. The magazine covers everything related to entertainment (movies, television, DVDs, music, videogames, etc.) in the United States. You can see their 2010 media kit here.

As the YP.com launch press release stated, “This new brand will be the focus of a multi-media national ad campaign, “Click Less. Live More,” to debut this month. Produced by San Francisco-based Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners, the campaign is based on the foundation that the YP brand knows that there is something bigger than just the words that are typed into a search bar. With the YP brand, consumers can experience more, do more and ultimately live more locally. ”

The ad copy in the Entertainment Weekly ad reads “YP believes in the power of rock ‘n’ roll” with a shot of a crowd at a concert. A search brick pre-filled with “Concert Tickets” in the what field and “St. Louis, MO” in the where field appears at the bottom of the ad.

Additional elements include:

  • The YP.com logo along with the new tagline “Click less. Live more.”
  • A “The new YellowPages.com” line to let people know of the brand change
  • A communication line located below the search brick “Fewer clicks to local search, reviews, maps and tickets”
  • An invitation to try YP.com on mobile “Use YP.com on your mobile”

I had a couple of reactions to the ad. The first is more of an insider reaction. The choice of St. Louis in the “where” field is amusing because it’s where AT&T Advertising Solutions (who manage the AT&T Yellow Pages and owner of YP.com) head office is located.

The second was about the choice of query terms. “Concert tickets” is not an easy category because it’s time sensitive and it’s dominated by a few huge players like Ticketmaster. My search results expectations were as follow:

  • I was expecting to see Ticketmaster close to the top in the listings.
  • I was expecting a list of ticketed shows happening in St. Louis today.

Here is a screenshot of the results I saw (you can also see the actual search results on the site here):

  • Ticketmaster is listing number 14 (way below the fold). They also appear in the “Sponsored Web Results for Saint Louis Concert Tickets” section on the right-hand side.
  • I don’t see a list of today’s St.Louis events (so, no instant gratification). There is a Zvents box on top of the results (good idea!) but I have to do the same search again (bad idea).
  • The first results are very relevant (the first three are St Louis Rams Ticket Office, St Louis Symphony Orchestra, St Louis Blues Hockey Club) but I still wish I would see related events attached to these listings.
  • There’s a few non-relevant travel agencies at the bottom of the results page (starting with result number 20) but they don’t impact too much the relevancy of the results.

What it means: here’s what happened. The product team focused on the “what” and the “where” (which is the bread and butter of directory publishers) but they forgot about the “when”. I blogged about the “when” a few months ago. It’s a direct consequence of the real-time Web and it will be the next big tsunami to hit the Internet. The “when” can be concert tickets but it can also be “specials” and “daily deals”. With many directory publishers entering the group buying space, they all will need to get better at embracing the “when” in their main search results.

Yahoo: Local Search is Like Social Networking

yahoo_local.jpgOur regular readers know that the theme of this blog is Local 2.0: where local meets social. We strongly believe these two worlds who might seem so far apart today are quickly colliding. So, it’s always with great pleasure that I read an interview with someone from a large organization like Yahoo! confirming what we’ve been claiming all along.

AdAge.com has just published a Q&A with Frazier Miller, a new member of the Yahoo! Local team. I don’t know Frazier but I’ve had the chance to meet Paul Levine, head of Yahoo! Local, a couple of times over the years. Smart people.

Highlights of the interview:

  • On the fact that Yahoo!’s local search is really social search: “…I very much feel like local is expanding from a look-up use case or the old Yellow Pages approach to a browse-type use case, where you want to bring in user-generated content elements to make a decision. … It’s more of a research and comparison shopping case. Moving forward there’s a lot more around discovery and exploration. You see it in terms of Flickr, YouTube, users going out there to explore and discover and be inspired. We’re look at our acquisition of Upcoming and how do events come to play in this. We are holistically helping users figure out what they want to do in planning their local lives.
  • On how they make money with local search: “Merchants can bid on a featured placement like you’d imagine in Yahoo Search. They can bid by category and location, except you don’t bid for it, it’s a subscription fee, which is a lot easier for merchants to understand. They pay a certain price depending on how densely populated that category and population is”
  • On who’s their biggest competitor: “Our strategy of focusing on user is certainly a big difference from Google, which takes a technical approach to these areas. We feel good about our leadership position. But there are also vertically specific players: neat services that really focus on one particular area. We look at what features are coming out from the smaller, more vertical players. Insiderpages, Judy’s Book, Angies’ List. These smaller, more vertical players are generally trying to tackle more specific demos. “

Greg Sterling comments on his blog that he “generally agrees with this viewpoint regarding the evolution of the product and the role of “online word of mouth” (user reviews and referrals). Traditional word of mouth remains a huge source leads for both consumers and local businesses, even as elements of that phenomenon move online.”

Related: Peter Krasilovsky tells us on the Kelsey Group’s blog that ” Insider Pages, whose ranks have fallen from roughly 30 employees to 10 since the departure of founder and CEO Stu McFarlane. (Andrew) Shotland’s departure, and others down the line, suggests a dramatic overhaul/downsizing is in the works under new CEO Mitch Galbraith”

What it means: Yahoo! is trying to differentiate themselves from Google by using the social search positioning. Obviously, this applies to Local as well and I really like the concept of “holistically helping users plan their local life” by combining structured business data with user-generated information from Yahoo! Local, Flickr, Upcoming.org or any other sites Yahoo! owns. In any case, they’ve clearly put a stake in the ground.

Harry says: Merchants don’t understand bidding? Maybe Google understands something that Yahoo doesn’t. What he should have said is merchants prefer a subscription fee (as long as it’s effective and provides tangible results)… IMHO, WOM is key. It’s also sometimes toxic. It’ll be interesting to see how Yahoo balances WOM and increasing merchant revenue.

Citizen Bay: user-generated local information

Citizen Bay logoFrom TechCrunch France comes the news that Citizen Bay has just launched. Citizen Bay is “a web-community of users searching, viewing, sharing and producing local information”. The first local information available is local news, classifieds and events. All information is submitted by users and other visitors vote on the relevancy of said information.

What’s interesting is that aspiring newswriters cab earn up to $10.00 an article (up to a maximum of $100 a day) for submitted articles and $1 for seeded article (an article that appears elsewhere submitted to the site a la Digg.com. “Every day the top 10 most popular news stories attached to each primary city are rewarded with money. “Most popular” is determined only by the votes of Citizenbay users. To be rewarded, a news story must have been voted by at least 15 different users.” No such payments exist for submitted classifieds or events.

What it means: Citizen Bay is trying to differentiate itself from sites like Digg.com by i) being local ii) having additional local content and iii) rewarding contributors who submit the top news of the day. I think Local is a great positioning for user-submitted news (and obviously classifieds and events). The key success factors will be user adoption and critical mass of content. Not sure if I like the user interface (too crowded) and the business model is not clear (not even using Google AdSense).

Definitely newspapers, directories, local search sites, a local government sites could certainly use similar content and these companies should be exploring ways to start collecting that kind of data as well.