January 19, 2004

A Dinosaur Evolves

Leading Internet Yellow Page site Superpages has announced sweeping changes to its site starting March 1st and is doing away with its current model. The new model will include a mix of pay per performance positions for national advertisers for the top 3 positions per page (bidding a la Overture). There will also be 3 pay per performance positions per page for local advertisers followed by 9 local fixed place/price advertisers per page. Additionally, (and my guess is because they have so many advertisers) they will be offering 15 pay per performance ads on the right hand side a la Google AdWords. [correction: these right hand ads will be fixed placement]

This is a big deal for the local search/IYP arena. Superpages has been the leader in the space both in terms of traffic and advertisers since the GTE/Bell Atlantic merger. Many (including myself) thought Superpages was to big and too old to adopt to the changing field. Superpages acquired pay per performance engine FindWhat late last year which is driving many of the changes to the site.

The change falls in line with a major theme that emerged from last Fall's Kelsley Conference on Local Search whereby national advertisers could handle the complexity of a bidding/pay per performance model and local advertisers would prefer a model that was more straight forward. My guess is this change will enable Superpages' ability to widen its scope of alliances to include major search players like Google and Overture and ultimately enable their product to be more easily integrated into any pure search engine. Currently, Superpages has alliances with MSN, Infospace, Lycos to name a few. These sites all have yellow page elements which are separated from their search function, but typically linked from the home page.

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