6 Tools Local Publishers Can Use to Build Business Directories

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Pretty much every hyperlocal publisher out there is on the lookout for new ways to generate revenue. In addition to employing in-house sales teams and using ad networks to fill unsold inventory, publications can increase revenue by integrating business directories into their existing sites. Directories give publishers a way to target local advertisers with a low-cost, self-serve alternative to traditional banners and display ads. Just as importantly, they provide instant value to readers interested in learning more about the merchants in their hometowns.

Here are six tools that publishers can use to build custom business directories into their existing publication websites.

1. Broadstreet: Monetize community sites with a WordPress plugin.
, an advertising technology firm aimed squarely at hyperlocal publishers, offers a WordPress plug-in to create portable business directories. Publishers can use Broadstreet’s tools to automatically fill in business details and photos (based on publicly available data) or manually add listings information on their own. The plug-in gives merchants the ability to update their own listings and post daily specials to the directory via text message or Twitter. Broadstreet’s plug-in is free to use. The company offers premium features, like automated importing, for $25 a month.

2. Local Corporation: Use a white-label platform to connect with local merchants.
Local Corporation offers a white-label business-directory platform that publishers can use to generate revenue, increase site traffic, and connect with local merchants in their area. Publisher integration can take place in as brief a time as one day. Publishers have the option of offering enhanced listings to clients for an additional fee, allowing advertisers to create profile pages with coupons, videos, photos, and links to their social media sites. Local Corporation charges its publishing partners based on an RPM model, with no licensing fees and no upfront costs.

3. Superior Media Solutions: Create a self-serve solution for advertisers.
Publishers looking to generate revenue from their business directories can use SMS’s directory platform. Directories can be custom built (with unique interfaces and designs) based on a publisher’s existing branding. Meanwhile, merchants can create and update own listings in real time through the front end of the platform. Publishers can set up the system to send automated reminders to merchants whose paid listings are up for renewal, and they can view the income their directories are generating with the platform’s reporting tools. SMS offers variable pricing options for publishers.

4. phpMyDirectory: Quickly build a directory with customizable templates.
The phpMyDirectory offers a turn-key solution for publishers who need their directories to be up and running in a hurry. Publishers can customize phpMyDirectory’s HTML-based templates and select the information they want included in their listings (including images, maps, reviews, and click-to-call buttons). They can also require editorial approval before businesses update their listings. The phpMyDirectory is designed to be “developer friendly,” but the company will handle the directory-installation process for an extra $29.95 fee. And the makers of phpMyDirectory charge clients a licensing fee of $99.95.

5. DirectoryPress: Charge merchants to add listings to your directory.
Publishers can use DirectoryPress to build business directories and classified listings. For $79, the company offers a script for WordPress that gives publishers the ability to create as many separate directory websites as they want. Listings can be added manually or imported directly with a CSV file. DirectoryPress offers more than 20 customizable themes and lets publishers add banner ads to any directory page. Publishers can charge merchants for submitting new directory listings using a number of integrated payment gateway options (including PayPal and Google Checkout).

6. 360Directories: Supplement existing advertising with a hosted directory.
360Directories offers a hosted, licensed software solution for media companies of all sizes. Publishers can integrate data from the platform into their existing websites, while still letting 360Directories manage the production, technical support, and accounting that goes along with a directory site. Local businesses can manage their own listings — even adding photos, videos, and coupons to go along with basic business information. In addition, 360Directories offers email marketing software to help in-house sales teams upsell existing advertising clients. The company has customized pricing options based on the scope of the project.

Know of other tools that hyperlocal publishers can use to build business directories into their sites? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor of Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.