Google Local squeezes Directory Assistance, Yellow Pages, Online Directories

Google Local Squeezes Directory Assistance, Yellow Pages and Online Directories
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor

UPDATE: Google's latest Local squeeze is on Directory Assistance services with its launch of  Google Voice Local Search, AKA GOOG 411, a "service to make local-business search accessible over the phone":

1) search for a local business by name or category. You can say "Giovanni's Pizzeria" or just "pizza," 2) get connected to the business.

The Googley kicker: "And it's free. Google doesn’t charge you a thing for the call or for connecting you to the business." 

MARCH 24: The $39 billion worth of Yellow Pages and Local Search and Directories advertising forecast for 2011 is a big part of Google’s growth forecast, and it is a very Google-centric part.

The Kelsey “Drilling Down on Local” Conference this week in Santa Clara was just a local stone‘s throw from Google CEO Eric Schmidt‘s Mountain View office in the Googleplex, but Google was not a principal local driller.

Hilary Schneider, Yahoo’s point person for finding “new ways of monetizing transaction listings,” was the key keynoter, touting the “research online, buy offline,” $1.3 trillion marketplace opportunity (see Yahoo unlocks local advertising value online).

Peter Horan, head of IAC Media & Advertising, extolled a“21st century content package” the likes of editorial Citysearch and viral InsiderPages to bridge the “Grand Canyon of local,” in his keynote (see IAC’s Peter Horan: Front door content drives local strategy).

Even Intuit, a Google Local alliance partner, took to the keynote stage, Steven Aldrich, small business strategy director, declaring Intuit to the local business rescue (see Intuit: The next local Advertising Agency?).

Where was number one search engine Google?

Eric Stein, Director, Local, participated in a breakout panel on “National Sales” and Chris LaSala, Senior Manager, Strategic Partner Development, participated in a “Who will be the winners”? panel.

Google keynoted at the Kelsey conference in Philadelphia last December, but Dan Rubinstein, SME Business Platforms, offered little more than a a Google Local product overview (see Google: $31 billion local winner?).

Google may be “everyone’s favorite garage band,“ but it is not industry’s most collegial conference participant.

Rare is the Google or YouTube keynote, even though they would undoubtedly be welcome to keynote at any and every event. Additionally, Google and YouTube panel appearances have a good chance of turning into “no-shows.” When Googlers do show up, they turn up the Google Speak.

Google’s lack of meaningful impact at the Kelsey local conferences signals more than Google’s typical “secrecy,” however. The Kelsey conferences are as much about cooperation between companies as they are about sharing ideas amongst peers (see Deal time: Partnering drives local ad sales ecosystem).

Yahoo, Nokia, Spot Runner took advantage of their keynote slots to point-blank solicit the hundreds of decision makers from Yellow Pages, Online Directories firms...For example, Ralph Kunz, Nokia Vice President, proclaimed a new local advertising ecosystem is being created and “we want you to be part of it” (see Nokia gets local: Mapping, navigation smart2go platform).

Google is creating a new local ecosystem as well, but it is a Google-centric one, pushing other industry players out rather than creating new opportunities for them.

In “Google: Sergey Brin on ad revenue knob” earlier today, I presented Google’s local One Box product introduced in January, mini Yellow Pages and Directory style guides at the top of Google local search SERPs, and discuss how it squeezes out Google local directory AdWords accounts such as Citysearch and Zagat.

Google is now tightening the squeeze with the introduction of “Plus Box” for local within the SERPs:

You'll find Plus Box results when a business comes up in search results and we are able to map its address. The Plus Box link tells you the address of the business and clicking the icon or the link shows you the address on a map.


Google touts the Plus Box as a “new search feature that lets you see more information about individual search results”:

Whenever you see the plus box icon click on it to see the additional rich data expand below the original search result. With Plus Box, you'll get a visual snapshot of related information, so it is faster and easier to find exactly what you're looking for.

Rich local data, available fast, easy and directly at Google.com or via GOOG 411? Who needs Yellow Pages or Online Directories or Directory Assistance!

SEE: What Microsoft is telling Google about mobile search

ALSO: Google blurs line between advertising and content, again and Google clients ‘frustrated’ by unprofitable AdWords buys and Google (will be) a monopoly and Does Google SEO success ’suck’?

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