Dateline: EADP Roma

The nature of local search and its potential for usurpring the strong position Yellow Pages holds here in Europe dominated the morning session at the EADP’s spring meeting in Rome. Jean-Marie Guille, who runs online directories for France’s PagesJaunes, laid out with great clarity the situation publisher finds itself in as local search emerges in Europe. He shared high-level results from some research commissioned by PagesJaunes showing the relative position of search engines vs. online directories in various European markets. The results showed that Google’s position is very strong, but not uniformly so from market to market.

A hot discussion topic was Yell’s recent decision to partner with Google in a manner similar to the deal struck by Yellow Pages Group in Canada, sharing data in exchange for offering advertisers exposure to the search engine’s enormous traffic. The deal has resurfaced debate over which course is best — partner now to protect customers relationships, or make a decision to compete and own the entire value chain.

Guille called search the first directly competitive medium to emerge in the history of Yellow Pages. €œThe difference is that search uses the same sales arguments as Yellow Pages, interacts [with the user] at the same moment that a purchase decision is being made.€

PagesJaunes commissioned Nielsen to study comparative reach of search properties in European markets. It basically showed that Google dominated most markets. One exeption was Sweden, where Google had 32% share, while adding together the various Eniro properties came to just under 40%. Shows that market position determines a lot of the strategy a given player follows. PagesJaunes also extrapolated results to show that IYPs monetize local searches at a much higher revenue per visit than search engines.

eBay’s Gil Penchina, who runs Southern Europe, came to discuss its evolution of working with SMEs. One of his most interesting comments was that eBay sees the value of structured data that directories possess, and the online auction company is trying to make its data (particularly small business) more structured, and therefore usable, translatable, etc. using more forms and templates .

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