ComScore: Partnerships in local search spark growth

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Nationally, Internet yellow pages (IYP) have seen significant increases in search traffic, due in part to new strategic partnerships between companies, according to a recent study by ComScore.

Within the past year, the Yellowpages.com Network established partnerships with Areaguides.net and 411.com, and saw its IYP search market share grow from 14.7% to 20.2% from Q4 2006 to Q4 of 2007, according to comScore. As a result of this growth, Yellowpages.com is now the market leader — overtaking Superpages.com by a slim margin — in the IYP search space.

In 2007, Superpages.com established a new partnership with Local.com and acquired Infospace FindIt/Switchboard.com, but also discontinued its relationships with 411.com and MSN Yellowpages. According to ComScore, Superpages.com's market share dropped from 20.9% to 20.0% from Q4 2006 to Q4 2007.

Yellow Book and R.H. Donnelley also saw traffic more than double from December of 2006 to December of 2007, according to ComScore. Part of this growth may be attributed to Yellow Book's partnerships with Infospace and Addresses.com and R.H. Donnelly's acquisition of Business.com, ComScore said.

At a session at the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York on Monday, a panel consisting of representatives from various local search companies stressed the importance of partnerships in an area where there is no clear market leader.

Content is “absolutely critical” in the local search world, said Justin Sanger, founder and president of LocalLaunch, a local search engine marketing and search optimization firm owned by R.H. Donnelly. As a result, local search companies have had to “embrace” what has historically been their competitors.

“We can't build walls around our inventory,” Sanger said. “Distribution is critical.”

Nobody's the gorilla in this market,” said Bruce Crair, COO of Local.com, who also spoke at Monday's panel. “The more we network with our cooperation partners — the better off the advertiser and consumer is,” he said.

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