AT&T Interactive Makes YP Data Available to Developers for Free with New API

AT&T Interactive has opened up all the content on YP.com to third party developers. That means app developers will have access to YP.com’s 17 million local listings, maps, reviews/ratings and deals for free:

[F]ree access to local business data from more than 17 million local businesses across more than 4,600 categories nationwide and provides developers access to maps, ratings, reviews, deals and coupons through the YP(SM) APIs. The open platform is available to developers who want to power their local apps or services with local business content. It also offers a robust set of APIs that help connect local businesses with consumers by potentially extending the reach of advertisers beyond AT&T Interactive’s owned and operated YP(SM) branded properties, as well as the premier YP(SM) Local Ad Network spanning web, IPTV and mobile.

AT&T Interactive is also holding a developer challenge to publicize the new API. The prize is $5K and a sponsored trip to the SXSW Trade Show (March 12-15):

The YP(SM) Developer Challenge is open to all developers from January 26 through February 19, and winners will be announced on February 28. As a part of the challenge, developers are invited to submit innovative local apps that use YP(SM) APIs for a chance to win $5,000 in cash, airfare, hotel accommodations to 2012 SXSW Interactive, a music conference and festival held annually in Austin, Texas. The winning team will share booth space with the YP(SM) Developer team at the event to demo their YP(SM) Developer Challenge app or website.

There are now multiple free local data sets available to developers, in addition to the new YP.com data:

  • CityGrid
  • Factual
  • deCarta
  • SimpleGEO (fate uncertain after acquisition)
  • Google Places
  • Foursquare
  • Facebook
  • SuperMedia (status uncertain)
  • YPG (Canada)
  • Sensis (Australia)

Given the above (and potential confusion all these data may create) I asked AT&T Interactive’s Joanna McFarland, VP of the company’s publisher network, what she thought differentiated the company’s new API and data from others in the market. She said two things: 1) data quality and 2) flexibility.

McFarland told me that AT&T is itself a local data aggregator and has cleaned, de-duped and improved multiple data sets from many sources. She also said that there are virtually no rules being imposed on developers. AT&T wants attribution but there are no link-back requirements, ads that must be taken and so on. Indeed, AT&T Interactive is trying to give developers maximum freedom and flexibility; and there are very few rules that limit how developers can use and preset the data.

In this respect AT&T is being much more liberal and developer-friendly than Google, which imposes numerous rules on how its data and maps are used.

AT&T Interactive’s motivations are two-fold. The company wants to extend the reach of its network and believes that the API will help do that. In addition the company believes that third party developers will use its data creatively and in ways that the company wouldn’t necessarily be able to develop or think of on its own.

Finally AT&T Interactive is not requiring developers to use its API exclusively. That means other local data sets can be used beside its YP.com data. This is the first of several APIs that the company plans to release, according to McFarland.

What do you think about all these free local data APIs in the market and how they impact local? It’s a pretty radical development compared to how local data were treated just a few years ago.

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6 Responses to “AT&T Interactive Makes YP Data Available to Developers for Free with New API”

  1. Perry says at

    For developers this presents an interesting new option, so long as AT&Ti is serious in supporting the infrastructure and retains the (attractive) openness.

    It also feels like we’re “racing to the bottom” for core directory data businesses. The value now has to be constructed on top of a quality directory data resource, and this continues to demand that data-centric businesses expand beyond simple license and hosted data services.

    SimpleGeo is the poster child for the business model struggle in geo data services. So far, I’m most intrigued with Factual.

    If AT&Ti’s terms are as open and flexible as they claim, I’d love to see Factual and others ingest it and apply it into their infrastructure. Probably not what AT&T has in mind. I’m betting that half of their motivation is to improve their relevance, in an app/innovation world where they seem to be drifting into obscurity.

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    They’re attracting developers with the flexibility — which was surprising to me — and their ambition is to extend their network and traffic to advertisers (who are included in the dataset). However there are no “sponsored listings” in this data.

  3. Greg Sterling says at

    Agree they don’t intend for the Factuals of the world to ingest and “resell” their data.

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  6. Pat Lazure says at

    Silly question, but what does this mean for a company such as InfoGroup and many others  that sell POI data? 

  7. Greg Sterling says at

    On one level this doesn’t impact their businesses. Infogroup would be too expensive for most developers that this is aimed at. In fact Infogroup made all its data available through CityGrid to extend its reach to smaller developers. 

    Major publishers may not want to use the data of a direct competitor so there’s still a market among the larger players. But it limits who may be willing to pay and it certainly puts downward price pressure on all data vendors. 

  8. Electrician says at

    Of all of the data set API’s that we have looked at Factual’s looked like the best strategic choice for a developer. At least Factual are in the business of data itself. Relying on a YP directory for your data feed seems like way too great of a risk. You never know just how committed they are to retaining the API, and how supportive they will be of any product that has any chance of even slightly cannibalising their sales channel.

    That said, I’m sure that they have much better data than Factual which (in Australia at least) seemed to have a very dirty and incomplete data set.

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