Interchange Bows Local Search Tool, Naturally
The gradual rollout of the Interchange model coincides with the recent release of "Search Engine Marketing: Trends, Prospects & Opportunities," a report by eMarketer that suggests that local search has yet to be embraced by small- and mid-size advertisers.
Not surprisingly, Clarke doesn't agree with the report's conclusions.
"[Local search is] a phoenix rising," he says. "The consumer experience might have been much less satisfying than it could be so far, but the world is waking up to it. The technical constraints are mostly gone."
Central to Interchange's local search platform is what the company has dubbed "keyword DNA." Here's how it works: Interchange combines a handful of characteristics, ranging from location and service area to density of surrounding population and competing businesses, and creates a unique profile for each business. This allows consumers to search without having to specify a business category; the engine is fueled by a single search box, as opposed to the three boxes (business type/city/state) of most Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) interfaces.
"Empires are won and lost on clicks," Clarke quips. "Having three search boxes is not consumer-friendly."
In addition, he promises that the new product will help reduce the number of failed searches on IYP sites, considered to be one of the primary reasons that local search hasn't yet taken off. "Twenty-five percent of searches consumers do fail, because they don't enter the correct [business] category term," he continues. "What we do is provide access directly to units of information, which in this instance are business listings."
The analyst community seems sold on the Interchange model. A Kelsey Group report written by analyst Greg Sterling bills the local search product as "a sophisticated new entry into the increasingly crowded market of vendors to the Yellow Pages industry. Interchange and the other IYP keyword search offerings represent a serious threat to those so-called 'look-and-feel' vendors that fail to develop comparable technologies."
Interchange is marketing the ePilot Local Search platform to IYP sites and Yellow Pages publishers as either a full solution or a suite of five modules. A demo can be accessed at www.epilot.com/local.