Today we will hear from my good friend Dick Larkin of WebListic, Inc. an Internet marketing firm focused on local online advertising.  I asked Dick for his thoughts on IYPs today and small business. I asked Dick basically 4 questions and he put 1 great response to them all.  I asked:

  • Who are the players in IYP?
  • Why should (should not) a small business participate in IYP?
  • Where do you see IYP going in the future?
  • Any particular resources or site would you recommend for folks to get more info?

Here is Dick’s response (unedited 🙂 ):

Thanks for the great blog Larry.  I appreciate the fresh approach to local online advertising and marketing and your street savvy approach.

Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) are near and dear to my heart.  As the former publisher of WorldPages.com and having acquired the YellowPages.com platform from AT&T, I can attest that IYP can provide great value to local advertisers and national advertisers seeking to reach a local audience.

To define IYP, it’s typically a directory that provides listings and enhanced information on a broad base of geographically targeted businesses.  In other words, it’s an online version of the phonebook.  Basically, if a directory provides phone numbers and addresses for all listings, you can be pretty sure that it’s an IYP.

So, the real questions are:
A. Who uses Internet Yellow Pages and
B. Does it make sense to advertise in IYP?

A. From a numbers perspective, IYP usage is a tiny fraction of overall web search.  A recent comScore report showed that 800 million unique users searched an IYP in the first quarter of 2007, a 21% increase in the number of users over the same period in 2006.  Overall searches per user dropped, but it is impressive to see that kind of growth in usage.

To put it in another way, there are more searches on Google in a few days than there are in all the IYPs combined for a year. However, the QUALITY of users on IYPs is much higher than of general web search.  I define quality as how close the searcher is to making a buying decision.

See, it’s easy to fire off a few hundred searches on Google before taking any action. However, on a typical Internet Yellow Pages, you have to enter multiple pieces of information (keywords, location, state, etc.) which is more time consuming, and also filters out searchers who aren’t really interested in finding a local business.

Someone searches an IYP when the’re serious about local information.

B. Advertising advice on IYP:

Here’s the secret to advertising on an Internet Yellow Pages.

Top three positioning is the only thing that matters.

Our extensive studies of IYP usage found that users are linear in their behavior.  They start at the top and stop after viewing a few search results. If a business is not found in the top few results, the user makes another decision and moves on.

So, only advertise in an IYP when you can be reasonably assured that you will get top three billing most of the time.  Anything else is wasted money.

Some of the big name IYPs charge large amounts for positioning outside of the top tier, and I find it highly unlikely that the advertisers receive maximum value for their investment.

The largest IYPs are:

The local results within Google
Yahoo Local
Local.com
SuperPages.com, published by Idearc (formerly Verizon)
YellowPages.com, published by AT&T

Most print publishers have their own IYP as well.

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Thanks Dick,  some great food for thought!