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Old 01-28-2005   #1
Chris Sherman
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A9 Joins Online Yellow Pages Fray

A9 is a cool search engine, but up until now it's been mostly a Google-flavored service with some cool additional tools, such as search history, the ability to search inside books, and so on. Now that's changed, as A9 has rolled out an online Yellow Pages service with a seriously cool feature: thumbnail images of all business storefronts in ten major cities.

According to A9 president Udi Manber, it only took the company a couple of months to build this system - and for a new entrant, it's already nearly on a par with other online yellow pages services.

Today's SearchDay article, Amazon's A9 Launches Visual Yellow Pages, covers the new service. This is a shot across the bow of Yahoo, Google and others - I suspect the pace of activity in the local search space is going to heat up rather dramatically over the coming months.

Comments welcome!
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Old 01-28-2005   #2
Igor Polk
 
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Arrow There is better INTERACTIVE Virtual Tour of San Francisco!

have you see the quality of A9.com San Francisco pages?

I have an INTERACIVE Virtual Tour of San Francisco - go all around the city and Alcatraz, and walk along Golden Gate Bridge and more.

Igor Polk,

Last edited by Chris_D : 01-29-2005 at 03:29 AM. Reason: No Sigs - please see http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/faq.php?faq=vb_user_maintain#faq_sigfiles
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Old 01-29-2005   #3
DickLarkin
 
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So why is Amazon *really* doing this?

The photos are quite inventive, and much more efficient than anything anyone else has done before (remember the disasterous Video Yellow Pages from InfoUSA?). It comes back to the main concept of directory value, and that's good data. Photos are a cheap and easy way for Amazon to add data and therefore value to their directory.

My questions are . . .

- Why are they doing this in the first place? Are they wanting to become a major player in the IYP space? Why?

- Once you venture past the eye-candy, where's the real beef? Gathering quality data is outrageously expensive. Users ultimately want guidance on selecting service providers. Photos are but a small piece of the pie.

- Understanding that 75% of traditional Yellow Pages advertisers are service-based businesses, the photos are of no use. All residential trades (roofers, painters, electricians, and so on) are "customer location" businesses. The photos don't capture this. Same goes for many medical practitioners, legal services and financial services.

- Are they going to sell advertising to local businesses? Who?, How? There aren't any large scale examples of successful local marketing that don't employ large man-power operations.

Now, if you combine the Amazon collected data with other IYPs such as Verizon's Superpages.com, the new YellowPages.com, or my own WorldPages.com, there may be some interesting synergies.

All in all, it seems like this team it using technology in ways that ultimately benefit the consumer. That's good.

Also, as you mentioned, Amazon is the king of social networking as it relates to customer reviews, recommendations, etc. That's also very good.

I want to know more. I'll be keeping my thoughts updated at the Yellow Pages Commando website

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Old 01-30-2005   #4
esoos
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Why is Amazon really doing this?

Amazon is in the process of building the largest, most comprehensive customer database the world has ever known. They already know all about our tastes in books (which tells them a huge amount about our tastes and interests in general) as well as our taste in music, electronics, etc...

Now they're databasing the places we like to go, where we spend our time when we're not sitting at our computer, even the type of restaurants we like to eat at.

What's a business's most valuable asset? Its database - and no one has a better database than Amazon.

Also, they're generating a ton of publicity.

That said, they still have some work to do with this project. Most of the businesses I looked up actually had photographs of businesses two or three blocks away. But I imagine synching up businesses with their photos is not an easy process.
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