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Yellow Page Blues

Today I did a panel at the Kelsey Group local conference. I've spoken there three or four years in a row now, and they always put on a good show. The attendees there are mostly Yellow Pages folks, with a few local publications thrown in - and of course the various vendors, technology providers, etc. to round out the audience. My panel was on local online advertising - shocking, I know.

In any event, the one thing that I always find amazing is that as far as the online Yellow Pages business goes, things have not changed much in the past few years. It is a tremendous technical accomplishment to index the entire world wide web and provide search functionality into it. Google obviously has done that well. It is an equally impressive accomplishment to build out a nationwide system where you sell to almost every local advertiser in the country. Who has done that better than the Yellow Pages?

So that leaves the obvious question: why don't the Yellow Pages folks get into the business of selling Google ads? Instead they seem to want to own the distribution of the online Yellow Pages with sites like SuperPages, etc., but I don't understand that. The search engines are the online Yellow Pages - the only thing missing is the local advertisers money. Who better to capitalize on this then the Yellow Pages?


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