Go to YP’s homepage, and you’ll see hyperlocal digital advertising at its most elemental. Sixty million users turn to YP each month to punch their location and required service into a search bar and find relevant businesses near them. On the flip side, businesses make sure they are listed on the site to turn online discoveries into offline transactions.
At Street Fight Summit in Brooklyn on Tuesday, Jared Rowe, CEO of YP, sat down with Andrew Shotland, proprietor of Local SEO Guide, to talk about recent trends and best practices in hyperlocal tech and marketing as well as his company’s efforts in the space.
Rowe kicked off his remarks with new research from YP. The research shows that two out of three people who start a search on YP actually intend to make a reservation, appointment, or purchase. This level of intent-to-purchase combined with the scale of YP’s audience is what keeps it relevant at a time when consumers can easily find business by going directly to Google search.
“Our audience is what gives us a right to actually talk to small- and medium-sized businesses,” Rowe said. Indeed, 91% of YP users contact a business after searching for one on the site.
Rowe countered what is perhaps a common misconception: namely, that YP’s bread and butter is creating one-off transactions by connecting consumers to businesses offering services. “That’s not who we are,” Rowe said, explaining that YP’s real business lies in creating a bridge between consumers and businesses that leads to recurrent revenue and ongoing relationships.
In order to execute on building ongoing relationships for its clients, YP offers not only its basic service-to-consumer marketplace but also a suite of tools that helps businesses advertise themselves more effectively. The company does not just take the age-old print yellow pages and digitize them; it adds value to the services of its clients using YP’s first-party data and expansive and committed audience, Rowe said.
“If that was simple, more people would do it,” Rowe added.
Acknowledging that his company receives a lot of its traffic from Google, Rowe said the key is not “getting away” from Google but rather compiling a comprehensive media strategy that is variegated and sustainable. “Facebook and Google, they set the rules of the market,” Rowe said, adding that YP works within these rules and remains secure by working not only with traffic-driving giants but also with traditional media outlets and other sources of site hits.
As pundits attuned to the latest in local search proclaim the coming disruption of voice search, driven by the success of products like Amazon Echo and Google Home as well as other advances in artificial intelligence, Rowe said YP is ready for the challenge but will largely handle it by doubling down on the quality of its content.
“This is going to be disruptive, and we should pay attention to it,” Rowe said. At the same time, “Ultimately we need to keep going vertical and develop unique content,” he said, adding that the companies most damaged by the growing popularity of voice search will be “weak content producers.”
Joseph Zappa is Street Fight’s news editor. Photograph by Shana Wittenwyler.