When Twitter Becomes The Clearing House For Business Data


If you were on vacation, similar to me, during the end of December you might have missed Twitter's big announcement. The company acquired Mixer Labs, the creator of GeoAPI, which provides developers with the ability to query data. That data can come from about 16 million businesses and thousands of points of interest. The technology also offers developers a layer on which to handle complex geographical queries and location-based services.

GeoAPI will integrate directly into the Twitter API, which plays into Twitter's plans, reported in mid-2009, to integrate geo-based location into its service. If you passed over the news, think again. It could shake up the Yellow Page industry, according to Andrew Shothand, owner of Local SEO Guide, a SEO in Pleasanton, Calif. who focuses on local search. It's a big deal because most business data from online listings come from limited resources, he says.



This acquisition creates an "open Yellow Pages," he tells me, explaining it lets startups create an application that gives them instant access to business data. The distributed nature of Twitter starts to apply to the structured world of online Yellow Pages. We agree it provides an interesting tool for companies that want to set up a mobile, location-based app, too.

Shotland tells me the integration will create a dramatic shift in the way people search for local information. Twitter could become the clearinghouse for business data simply by having the ability to process, update and distribute the information in a way that anyone can use it. If that happens, you suddenly have an explosion of relevant, local information that any business can take and integrate on a Web site. And if that data matches up with tweets, it makes it all the better.

This type of toolset could even threaten the existence of traditional online Yellow Pages, Shotland suggests. Normally, a business must license the data, unless it's available free online. The companies that support business information might argue they monitor and verify the data to make sure it's accurate.

If Twitter became the source of "truth" for business records, it would become "hugely disruptive to the local search industry," Shotland says. The emergence of an open source yellow pages for local business is one of the 11 predictions on his blog for 2010.

3 comments about "When Twitter Becomes The Clearing House For Business Data".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., January 8, 2010 at 5:13 p.m.

    Twitter = Yellow Pages? This assumes that the information delivered to and on Twitter has any measure of veracity, and how would this be determined? Have you ever been to a local Pizzeria that didn't say their pizza was "the best"?

  2. John Carnegie from Carnegie Consultants, January 8, 2010 at 7:51 p.m.

    Interesting point, Jonathan...that superlative metric could make a resource like Yelp a valued variable in the equation, right?

  3. Dick Larkin from American Marketing & Publishing, January 9, 2010 at 10:30 p.m.

    I don't see any chance that Twitter becomes the new Yellow Pages.

    1. Yellow Pages must be complete to be useful, ie. having an entirely robust set of listings, classifications, and taxonomy for the searchers to get what they want. Twitter is anything but compelte and accurate.

    2. Yellow Pages publishers go to amazing lengths to verify data, listings, ad copy, content, etc. They spend ten of millions of dolalrs annually in the US alone to ensure quality content makes it through.

    Twitter is a stream of unfiltered, unreliable, inconsistent, unverfied garbage.

    When a few numbers in a community of 100,000 residents are left out of a Yellow Pages directory, you can be sure that it will be noted in the local paper. Can you imagine any internet company being held to anywhere close to the same standards?

    The vast majority of local business owners have no time, discipline, or need to be twitting while they are building their business.

    The directory publishers will continue to provide quality and completeness.

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