D&B Drills Down Local Search

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Business information publisher D&B is publishing a very specific local business search online with the help of new technology.

D&B, Short Hills, NJ, partnered with i411 Inc. two years ago to develop a detailed local online search called Business Locator for potential directory customers who lacked the resources to build and maintain their own online directory.

I411's Search & Discover solution breaks down local searches into several categories and subcategories instead of presenting results ranked by keywords.

The technology "allows users to conduct free-text searches similar to popular search engines and to incrementally refine their searches, using multiple criteria in order to locate specific businesses that offer the products and services they seek," according to a statement from i411, Herndon, VA.

"If you're trying to find a specialized ball bearing manufacturer and you don't know the name of the company, your chances of finding the right company you want are slim," said Brian Soo Hoo, senior relationship manager of electronic licensing at D&B.

With i411's search engine, Soo Hoo said, users can find specific types of companies in specific areas. They also can find them in an organized way, since D&B collects and maintains extensive information on 67 million companies worldwide.

I411 developed the product to help business publishers confront the flow of customers away from print directories to online.

"The problem for yellow page publishers is that their audience is going away. They got taken aback pretty bad when Yahoo Local and others came on," said Azim Tejani, president of i411, which works with Dex Media in the United States, Telkom Directory Services in South Africa and other directories worldwide.

As more consumers seek local information online, yellow pages publishers need to adapt their businesses and revenue models, Tejani said.

Meanwhile, D&B plans to expand its reach in local search. With i411's technology, it can offer a directory as specific as "Metal Food Containers in Parsippany, New Jersey," Soo Hoo said.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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