Listings management service Yext has announced a partnership with one-time competitor UBL to power a new local search product. UBLExpress combines Yext’s core PowerListings product, which enables business to update their business listings across multiple sites through a single touch point, with UBL’s existing SEO and listings management services, giving Yext wider reach and UBL access to vastly improved technology as well as offer syndication.
The new product will also add Google Places to the roster of syndicated services — a feature that remains, as Greg Sterling pointed out, one of the few holes in Yext’s lineup. The absence of Google Places in Yext’s product is not surprising however, considering Yext CEO Howard Lerman’s ongoing crusade against the search giant’s allegedly closed approach to local information distribution.
The reapproachment between the competitors indicates a substantial shift in strategy for both companies as Yext looks for scale and UBL repositions its brand.
For UBL, the partnership is a concession that their product development efforts have not kept up with the competition over the past few years. The company appears to be pushing forward with a full-service SEO/listings management product – a move that requires a breadth of technology that would be unsustainable to maintain and build on its own.
Conversely, Yext is planting its flag as a technology play. Over the past two years, the company has proven its use-case through internal sales, and is now looking to scale through channel partnerships like the one launched today.
Yext declined to release pricing specifics, but told Street Fight that UBL receives PowerListings through its “strategic platform partner pricing rates.” Though the company says it is “agnostic” about whether business use its product directly or through a partner, don’t be surprised to see a structural shift from SMB-focused sales to larger partnerships with local digital marketing solutions like Orange Soda or even legacy local businesses looking to leverage their sales forces in new ways.
Lerman hinted at the strategy in a conversation with Bloomberg TV earlier this month: “The other value that each of these legacy print yellow pages businesses has is that they have huge sales force,” he said about businesses like DexOne that are trying to build digital businesses. “Those sales forces can be leveraged to sell other kinds of products — maybe it’s Google AdWords, and maybe it’s Yext PowerListings.”
Steven Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.