The newly launched search service is examining the feasibility of allowing Yellow Pages content to be included in its pay-for-performance products. "We're reviewing whether we should make it available -- we haven't actually made a decision on that at this point in time," said Sensis search general manager Elisabet Wreme.
Pay-for-performance advertising (also called click-marketing) monetises Web search results. Web advertising suppliers auction search terms to advertisers. The bidder willing to pay the most for each click (or lead) followed from the paid search result wins the right to be associated with the term.
Pay-for-performance advertising is one of the fastest growing revenue streams for Web advertising providers such as Yahoo subsidiary Overture and Google. However, they conventionally require customers to maintain a Web site in order to use their products.
Wreme said the outcome of the review would depend primarily on how adequately Yellow Pages' business information will meet the company's search editorial guidelines.
"The issue really is from an editorial point of view that when you click on a pay-for-performance link, how much information do you need to have sitting behind that for that to fulfil the editorial requirements?," she said.
If the proposal is reviewed favourably, Australian small businesses that primarily rely on the Yellow Pages for their advertising, and don't have the means to maintain a Web site, will be given an easy way to access pay-per-click marketing.
Search giant Yahoo recently made its play for the local search market, striking directly at the heart of the Yellow Pages market by launching a free commercial listing service of its own.
Yahoo Australia, senior search producer, Peter Crowe is far less coy about their intention to monetise the listing during the launch. Today he claimed that the company had been inundated with interest from local businesses about the directory.
"We've scratched an itch out there with small businesses in Australia," said Crowe.
Wreme said Sensis welcomed Yahoo's presence in the market in helping promote awareness of local search but also made a veiled criticism of its competitor.
"Having all the sales people actually going out and verifying the information and the ability for us to collect much deeper content than just the phone number and [location information] -- I think that's what makes Yellow Pages such a good product," she said.
Crowe however said that Yahoo had its own call centres and was also actively canvassing businesses to improve the quality of its database.