AT&T's business directory reentered the online market Thursday with the launch of its new Web site, complete with geo-location targeting, social services through Facebook and partnerships all with the aim of turning the portal into a community.The focus remains on local businesses and partners.
The homepage, stamped with the new "YP" brand and tagline "Click Less. Live More," highlights YP's goal to help consumers easily discover ways to live locally.
Data supports the service. Search algorithms and personalization bring the site up to date. The rewritten search technology running in the background identifies the term "restaurant" and location when someone does a query for local places to eat in Los Angeles, for example. Depending on the location of the query, the engine will determine how far the person might want to travel before arriving at their destination. The query takes into consideration ratings, hours of operations, credit card options and more.
YP.com launched a mobile app, too. Although preinstalled on about 40 million mobile phones, consumers also can download YP.com Mobile for iPhone, Android, Palm Pre or BlackBerry through online app stores. That's the beauty of being an AT&T subsidiary, boosts Greg Isaacs, VP of product at AT&T Interactive, a wholly owned AT&T subsidiary nearing $1 billion in annual local ad revenue. "We're on a pretty aggressive schedule to continually release new features," he says. The site has been visually redesigned with pleasing graphics that pop, sophisticated one-click search functions and social features, but getting people to come back to a revamped dinosaur may take some work. Isaacs says the team has worked hard on the site's URL structure, perfecting canonicals to rank higher in search engines on sites run by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
Yellowpages.com, prior to today's YP.com rebranding, counted 36 million monthly unique visitors to its Web site, but this redesign could catapult that number to so much more. Tighter search options, new partnerships, and social features have been added.
YP.com highlights events through geographic location; search functions allow consumers to search by the star ratings, distance, neighborhood, category and more; and Facebook friends can share information found on the directory site. Those on Twitter also can share information to followers.
While AT&T has supported local search for more than 100 years with the AT&T Real Yellow Pages, what the company calls "the first search engine," it's only now when Internet giants, along with startups, heavily invest in reaching local consumers. Kelsey Group projects U.S. local online ad spends will triple to $36 billion during the next four years.
More than 30 companies like Localeze and City Search send data daily to update information on business listings. YP verified the data by calling the phone number of the businesses. An employee needs to type in a four-digit code to change the information on the site.
Several other companies support features on the site. AT&T partners with Fandango for movie tickets, Open Table for restaurants, Hotel.com for hotels, Zvents for events, and Vast for automotive. The site also partners with Microsoft Bing to support the mapping feature, and Everyscape to provide an inside 360-degree 3D photorealistic view of businesses. YP.com will offer the service as a video advertisement for businesses willing to fork out the dough.