Image from voicestar.com, provider of the back-end technology for the go! Local directory
It's as thick as the Yellow Pages -- and the pages are mostly yellow, but this directory published by Canwest Global (which owns our local daily newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen) is definitely not the venerable and well-established directory. While the publishers of the traditional Yellow Pages have come up with their own solution to the Internet marketing juggernaut, this go! Local product could (if successful) revolutionize the print directory business.
Why? Well, if you look at the ads, many full page, you'll see almost all of them start with the 212 exchange (not to be confused with NYC's 212 area code). These are in fact "pay per response" ads, much the same as Google Adwords, but here, you pay only if someone phones you.
I met the people selling the technology engine used in the Canwest product, voicestar.com at the Future of Online Advertising conference in New York City in June. For publishers, the concept is surprisingly inexpensive, and creates a solution to the challenge conventional media is facing with the new Pay Per Click models on the Internet -- how do you monetize a print product so that you can satisfy the advertiser's desire to pay only if the ad 'works' and still make some money?
I'm not sure of course whether the go! Local model -- which also combines an Internet directory with the printed publication -- will work. It obviously depends on both the advertising rates and the responses. Are printed directories like this finding their way into t he round basket, unread? Is the useful shelf life of the directory long enough to cover the production costs?
One thing is certain, however. If a local publisher offered this service and you are conventionally advertising in the Yellow Pages, I would jump at the opportunity to try the Yellow Pages ad in the new medium. Why not? You'll only pay the publisher if your phone rings, and presumably (and hopefully!) you know your conversion rate average based on the number of initial inquiries you receive from your ad. You'll quickly be able to tell if the cost-per-lead is profitable for your business.