Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Supercharging Yellow Pages: Verizon SuperPages Links Advertisers to Google Search Results Ads Today - Wireless Next?

In the ever-evolving battle for the pockets of local business advertisers the yellow pages industry has been fighting a tough battle to retain the advertising dollars of grass-roots patrons. More and more of these businesses are discovering that the first stop for people looking for local services increasingly draws them to major search engine portals. Increasingly this means not even bothering with the "local pages" offered up by one of these portals but just typing in what you think you need into the main search box of a portal and trusting the search engine to do the rest. This works increasingly well on search engines like Google, which have awareness of one's locality through examining your network connection and can use that data to put search results - and ads - in a more local context. So small wonder, then, that telecoms giant Verizon has announced that its SuperPages online yellow pages service has joined Google's AdWords reseller network to channel its advertisers into the contextual ads that appear on Google's search results and via other channels. This expands the Verizon relationship with Google in which they were providing profiles of their advertisers to Google.

Yet one wonders whether this may not be a harbinger of broader business relationships yet to come for telecoms providers and Google. This of course helps Verizon to extend the reach of its marketing power for local advertisers into existing Google channels and provides Google indirectly with a huge sales force that engages small businesses on the level that most are used to dealing with to manage their tiny ad budgets. But given Google's push into wireless markets this may also be the start of a relationship that could result in a very convenient way for pumping ads into the ad-supported wireless services that Google is preparing to launch. I think of this especially in light of the recent patent filings by Google focused on providing sponsorship of browser windows and managing ads via wireless services. What better way to inject new life into yellow pages ads than to have an ad appear on your wireless device when you're closest to that local merchant? We have been telling people for some time to prepare for the seismic changes that are likely to unfold as Google begins to enable wireless services; the Verizon announcement is but one more reminder that this future is not so far off.
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