Marchex announced today that it has extended its relationship with AT&T’s Yellowpages.com to provide its private-label SEM placement services. These services are resold by AT&T directory sales reps as YPClicks Search Engine Solutions, and the new agreement extends the relationship for four years.
“For some time, we’ve been working closely with AT&T and Yellowpages.com to enable their advertisers to appear in relevant local results in Google, Yahoo! and others as well as our own Web sites,” said Marchex VP of Public Relations Mark Peterson when I talked to him last week. “They have more than 5,000 local search professionals, so they are going to be on the street selling local search product under the name Search Engine Solutions and YPClicks.”
This is one testament, of many, of the earnestness in which some Yellow Pages and IYP companies are beginning to approach online opportunities. Seeing their greatest value as the sales channel, many publishers are adopting a platform-agnostic (excuse the overused term) attitude toward generating leads for their advertisers in many forms. In this case Marchex’s platform (MarchexConnect) is private labeled, so AT&T can resell it with its own branding and maintain ownership of the advertiser relationship — a key enticement for the company to play ball.
Some are barking louder while others are biting harder, but overall there seems to be more activity in online partnerships and product development among directory publishers. Canadian publisher YPG extending its distribution arrangement with Google last week is another example, as are Superpages’ ownership of Inceptor and RHD’s ownership of LocalLaunch. Support for this type of action was also echoed loudly during Scott Pomeroy’s keynote at the recent DDC conference.
While we’re seeing more activity by Yellow Pages companies to embrace different forms of online marketing, there are also online pure plays make a run at building sales channel assets, such as Citysearch and ReachLocal. Expect more market convergence and increased competition at the street level to bring more advertisers online and make a play at the roughly two-thirds of the SMB marketplace that doesn’t advertise in the Yellow Pages.
Cheaper online distribution could be one way to crack this nut, and a high touch local sales force is the best way to get in the door.
Related: See Michael Taylor’s post on the increased local sales efforts and what it is doing to the recruiting game, and the availability of quality reps. Marchex executives will also be speaking during a session at the upcoming ILM/SES Local conference.