IYPs Embrace User-Generated Content

The newest issue of Local Media Journal, which publishes tomorrow, includes a feature on the trend toward more ratings and reviews in online Yellow Pages.

The traditional concern with letting users write reviews is that negative reviews can be at odds with retaining paying advertisers  especially big accounts that have large ad spends elsewhere in the print book. More of our past coverage on these issues is here, here and here.

But in order to build deeper content and stay competitive with search giants that have comprehensive local offerings, IYPs are starting to come around to social media. Its benefits also include viral marketing and stickiness that come with the creation of community and trust in peer-generated content.

So in the past month alone we’ve seen reviews launched by YellowPages.com and a new review spotlight feature added to SuperPages’ existing review program. More on these announcements and this general trend in tomorrow’s Local Media Journal.

Mojo for IYPs
Today also saw the launch of MojoPages. The site claims to be the “next generation of the Yellow Pages” by combining listings with various social media, including forums for discussion on local businesses and the ability to post or watch pictures or videos of them. More from the press release and Search Engine Land.

My thought is that Yellow Pages-style listings are intrinsically conducive to these forms of media, and that the space needs this type of experimentation. But this may be ahead of its time in that IYP users’ proclivities to participate in the posting (or even watching) of video probably isn’t yet at the mainstream level, which would make this a giant success right away.

The company claims to have a “strong following of early adopters” already in place, but it will need to prove significant traction if it is to overcome the challenges in motivating user participation faced by companies in the local “social search” space, including Yelp, Insider Pages and Judy’s Book.

And one of the pitfalls of reviews in the directory environment is the possibility of ending up with an inconsistent or patchy volume of content across different categories. Restaurants and bars, for example, are more likely to get substantial volumes of reviews than categories that are traditional sweet spots for Yellow Pages such as plumbers and lawyers.

But as Michael Taylor pointed out yesterday, and we’ve written about in the past, there are interesting possibilities for video advertising in an IYP environment. As the dial for online video and social networking in general moves closer to the mainstream, this could prove true. MojoPages seems to be the first to introduce or experiment with this in any meaningful way in the IYP space, so it will be interesting and telling to see how it does.

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