Telstra launches search heavyweight

Telstra subsidiary Sensis today has launched its new search engine, which includes contents from the White pages, CitySearch, Whereis database and Australian and global Web content.Sensis Search general manager Greg Ellis said he expected the new search engine to be the benchmark of future search engines, providing local and international results with specific local searches like opening hours, maps and directions.

Telstra subsidiary Sensis today has launched its new search engine, which includes contents from the White pages, CitySearch, Whereis database and Australian and global Web content.

Sensis Search general manager Greg Ellis said he expected the new search engine to be the benchmark of future search engines, providing local and international results with specific local searches like opening hours, maps and directions.

"It is not about technology and it's not about volume or providing thousands of irrelevant results. After all, who wants 10,000 irrelevant results when you can receive 20 or so highly relevant results that meet your precise needs? What we have done with sensis.com.au is create a new benchmark for internet search against which future search engines will need to be compared," Ellis said.

Telstra launched Sensis officially today at briefings in Sydney for media, analysts and industry participants.

Australian businesses listed on the Yellow pages online site will immediately be registered in sensis.com.au. Ellis said the Sensis search engine is targeting 18 to 45 year old users.

"sensis.com.au allows people who are searching for a local product or service to find a supplier quickly and easily without having to trawl through thousands of irrelevant search results. Now, regardless of whether people are searching for a local florist in Bondi or a pair of shoes in New York, they can go to sensis.com.au to conduct local, Australian and global searches returning relevant, high quality search results," Ellis said.

Ellis added that part of the overall strategy is to put more of the company's existing print content online at little or no additional cost to the advertiser.

sensis.com.au will also have a pay for performance advertiser solution called BidSmart. This enables advertisers to buy keywords that are sold through an auction model, which will allow the market to determine the value of the keywords relevant to their business.

Throughout the year, Sensis also plans to launch wireless applications that carry listing content such as Music & Nightlife, Sensis Finders, Maps and Directions, Buddy Finder and Whereis Navigator.

Sensis also announced that it has exceeded its financial and operational targets last financial year with a 7.6 percent growth and core business revenue of AU$1.31 billion.

Sensis announced a total portfolio revenue of AU$1.36 billion after its recent acquisitions. The total earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) increase for the underlying business has grown by 8.2 percent from AU$ 620 million in 2003 to AU$671 million in 2004. Underlying earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) also grew by 11.5 percent last financial year.

Sensis is expecting a sustainable revenue growth of more than six percent for 2005.

Bruce Akhurst, Sensis chairman and group managing director Telstra Wholesale, Broadband and Media, said Sensis is contributing approximately six percent of total Telstra underlying sales revenue and nearing ten percent of total Telstra underlying EBIT in 2003.

Sensis chief executive officer Andrew Day said the Yellow Pages print directory business recorded a revenue growth of four percent while the Yellow Pages OnLine revenue increased by 63 percent. The White Pages revenue for the print directory increased by 14.5 percent with more than 100,000 White Pages OnLine paying customers.

Day also reported that Sensis's collective print business grew by 5.6 percent last financial year.

"Our smaller, stand-alone online and electronic businesses -- the Whereis and CitySearch products and the Sensis MediaSmart online advertising network -- collectively achieved 20 percent plus growth. Sensis' total online and electronic business grew by more than 40 percent," said Day.

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