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Back in 2008, Trevor Nadeau went to the board of the company he was running, Yellow Medya, and told them that no one was buying the product they were selling, an online Yellow Pages directory.

Nadeau had to come up with a new business model, and quickly. “I knew we were toast if we didn’t change,” he told us last week.

What Yellow Medya decided to do was focus on the data opportunity in Turkey, a country that lacked a basic, functioning database of businesses. Turkey also lacked a positive history of Yellow Pages, with multiple Yellow Pages operators coming and going over the past two decades.

The company went to work on building up content on small and large businesses in Turkey, a national of 81 million people and about 2.3 million businesses. Yellow Medya’s decision to fill the data void created a sizable licensing and distribution opportunity. This strategic decision has led to revenue generating partnerships with Yandex (kind of the Russian Google), TripAdvisor, Foursquare, TomTom, Nokia Location and Commerce, among others. The company has an API for others that want to develop on their data.

The bigger picture, and opportunity, is that building this rich, geocoded database, with brand and point-of-sale data, is a great enabler for social-local-mobile marketing in Turkey. The lesson for other directory organizations is that focusing on data can be a powerful differentiator in a Google-dominated local search environment.

Nadeau will give a presentation outlining Yellow Medya’s transformation from directory failure to successful SoLoMo facilitator on Sept. 21 at the EASDP annual congress in Toledo, Spain. Nadeau’s presentation comes on the second day of the congress, which is being produced by BIA/Kelsey. The day will focus on the emerging opportunity for European publishers to help small-businesses engage in social, local and mobile media and commerce.

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