It is more likely that you know what car your neighbor drives, or even what they call their pet, than it is for you to know the name of that person who lives down the street. According to a Harris survey done last year for WhitePages.com, our degree of obliviousness to our own neighborhood is astonishing. While the personal and business listings company has been allowing you to search your neighborhood from WhitePages.com for the past year, the tool comes to mobile in a refresh of the company’s very popular iOS app.
“It is a people discovery experience,” says Bret Moore, general manager mobile, WhitePages.com. While many startups in the social media space struggle to get scale through user check-ins and the like, WhitePages already knows who lives where. “We have 200 million people already listed," Moore boasts.
The secret sauce is what you do with that kind of built-in scale. The new app allows the user to combine new and old contacts in interesting ways. When you find people in a given area, they can be saved to your address book. Listings can be shared via a unique Facebook and Twitter integration that allows you to choose specific people from your networks with whom to share and perhaps arrange meetings at a given spot. The app has comprehensive local business and service listings as well.
With the radically revised listings app, WhitePages.com is trying to build on considerable success in the mobile space. According to Moore, the iOS app alone has been downloaded 17 million times, and the brand is present across all of the major mobile platforms, including an active mobile Web site. Of the 30 million total unique visitors WhitePages.com sees from all sources each month, 7 million are from mobile devices.
WhitePages.com is already the top-grossing app in the iTunes App Store and enjoys a remarkably strong 4.5-star rating after thousands of user votes. While the download and basic service is free, the app makes most of its revenue from upselling specific services like reverse lookups of cell phone numbers.
In fact, user revenue has been the only monetization for the past year, since WhitePages turned off the ad spigot and began working on a new suite of ad products with ad server AdMarvel. Moore says that big brand advertisers are getting in line, as the app offers both scale and highly targeted opportunities.
In the year or so since the neighborhood personal search, users have not raised any privacy concerns, Moore says. The site allows anyone to modify or hide their listing to thwart snoops, or perhaps traveling salesmen. Moore says that in most cases people come into the system not to unlist themselves, but to add to their profile and make it more accurate and up to date.