YP Adds Groupon, TripAdvisor Content but Should Also Be More ‘Experimental’

YP recently announced two high profile content integrations. First it said it will be adding “more than 450,000 active [Groupon] deals in North America within the YP search experience.” Later the company announced the inclusion of Trip Advisor reviews:

Search results for nearly 850,000 of the hotel, restaurant and local attraction listings available on the site and mobile app now include TripAdvisor’s overall rating and five most-recent user reviews and photos, in addition to the YP user reviews and star ratings.

These partnerships follow a number of earlier deals with the Better Business Bureau, Uber, Fandango and Ping-up (booking). We can probably expect more content partner announcements like this in the near future.

Each of these partnerships, plus the company’s own “MyBook” personalization and collections (lists), seek to make the YP site and mobile experiences richer and more useful — and they do. These partnerships are part of a strategy that has been in development since 2011.

YP content additions

Were I sitting in Stu MacFarlane’s chair at YP (EVP of Consumer Platforms) I would probably be doing something quite similar. There’s an opportunity to position YP as a mobile app that enables users to get things done (read: transactions) vs. others (listings aggregators). The question is: is this enough to differentiate and maintain YP’s consumer brand?

The third-party content/tool integration approach represents something of a middle path between the status quo and more radical action. Given that this is the company’s branded flagship app and site, I understand the more incrementalist approach.

Arguably however YP should be acting in parallel to build out more experimental or radical user experiences that don’t merely react to the market but try to get ahead of it.

There have been several efforts by YP in the past to develop stand-alone apps or verticals (e.g., Gas Guru). It also owned and was developing as a local-social search experience. But after that failed to take off, the company sold the domain in 2015. It should revisit these efforts.

To its credit YP has continued to invest in its consumer experience and brand. Many US directory publishers have either de-emphasized or walked away from their online consumer products. YP has healthy traffic: its various properties attract 60 million visitors monthly. That means it can reap higher margins on some of its ad products and may have an easier time getting through to SMBs because of brand recognition.

Still, there should be some more experimental bets if YP wants to truly compete longer term. These can probably be pursued in parallel and developed in house to reduce costs. Successful elements of those could be integrated into the flagship experience.

These additional mobile sites/apps could take the form of vertical, task-specific or lifecycle apps. Apps could also be acquired. My sense is that it’s becoming a buyer’s market. The “local market” is cluttered with startups and point solutions.

Like its neighbor in Canada, Yellow Media, or Facebook for that matter, YP could take a portfolio approach to apps and app development. Regardless, YP should take a more aggressive or experimental approach to consumer experiences.

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