As it readies its expected public offering, ReachLocal is branching out beyond its roots as a third-party SMB reseller for Google and others. First, it started selling display. Now it is set to offer improved search optimization, digital presence and reputation management via the acquisition of SMBLive.
Other companies in the space have made similar moves to branch out beyond their reseller roots to solidify their relationship with SMBs. Marchex and Yodle, for instance, have major organic search and reputation management initiatives under way.
The acquisition of SMBLive will enable SMBs to use Reach to publish multimedia content from a single interface to a business profile page, as well as to local directory sites, search engines and social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. In addition, Reach will monitor local review sites, social media sites, and local blogs for references and comments related to the SMB.
SMBLive occupies a rapidly evolving space that also includes such companies as Google, Yahoo, YellowBot, MerchantCircle, ShopCity, Brownbook and various IYP sites. It started out providing upsellable free Web sites for ISPs that had separated from their Yellow Pages business. A couple of years ago, it launched operations for BT TradeSpace. Last year, it also launched TelMex.
The company has continually added features, such as video and blogs. But the company has recently focused on scalable cloud profiles that are entirely Web based and enable “write once, publish many times” functionality.
SMBLive’s Cloud Profile also enables SMBs to publish updates using e-mail and SMS text messages — tools that they’re already comfortable with. The service also includes a “virtual coach” to remind and encourage SMBs to regularly update their profiles and engage prospects in online conversations.
Are we omniscient? In our year-end predictions, BIA/Kelsey SVP Matt Booth predicted that “mergers and acquisitions between vertical ad platforms and social marketing companies” should be watched for.