in the mid-1990s the early days of Internet Yellow Pages (IYP)
BigBooks Chris Hagerman appeared on the cover of Red
Herring magazine tearing a phone book in half. The message this image
conveyed was clear. The Internet has arrived, and it is here to make
the printed Yellow Pages a relic of the analog past.
reality since then has been quite different. While the printed product
has suffered a decline followed by a leveling off of overall usage,
the source of the decline until now cannot be pinned entirely on the
Internet. In fact, a host of other factors (business consolidation
and big box retail chief among them) have had a greater impact to
this point. The future is another matter. The Kelsey Group (TKG) anticipates
a much more direct correlation between declining print directory usage
and adoption of high-speed connections to the Internet at home, in
the workplace and, with wireless broadband, virtually anywhere.
the stakes are higher than ever for Internet Yellow Pages providers.
The opportunity to capture usage is perhaps greater than it has ever
been. And advertisers inevitably follow users, even if there is often
a considerable lag.
local search. As the conditions for success in IYP improve, and as
the IYP providers have failed until now to raise their game sufficiently
to take advantage of this opportunity, the search engines have turned
their sights on the local market. Google, Yahoo! and AOL, among others,
have launched local search betas. And the entry of the search engines
into the local marketplace has influenced the online product-development
decision making of the major print Yellow Pages publishers around
from the search engines has also created a much more aggressive pace
of introduction for new or redesigned online directory products by
directory publishers. In effect, what has happened is that the search
engines have tried to become more like Yellow Pages publishers, just
as Yellow Pages publishers have tried to become more like search engines.
in all of this activity is a real understanding of how the user experience
has evolved. Amid the flurry of redesigned, if not re-invented, local
online directory products, The Kelsey Group felt it was time to assess
the state of the product from a users perspective.
achieve this, TKG designed a rating and review process through which
we evaluated and ranked 15 U.S.-based Internet Yellow Pages and local
search sites and six global IYPs. We applied a ranking based on the
following criteria: User Interface and Interaction, Relevance of Results,
Depth of Content, Search Capabilities and Site Intelligence. We ranked
each site on a scale of 1 to 4 for each category and then averaged
the scores for a total. The testing methodology is explained in detail
in the body of this White Paper.
evaluation scores ranged from a low of 1.0 to a high of 3.4, with
a wide distribution between these extremes. The overall message, however,
is that even though online directories have been around a while and
have come a long way from their origins, they still have a long way
to go. While the grading in this report may at times seem unforgiving
given the difficulty involved in producing a quality online directory,
our objective is to clarify a set of standards of excellence, or at
least adequacy, that all IYP and local search providers can judge
their efforts against.