AT&T Interactive issued a press release this morning announcing its new Kindle Fire app, which is a larger-screen version of the Android app. The bulk of the announcement, however, was devoted to the impact that recently introduced restaurant menus have had on usage and engagement across its various properties.
According to the company, the enhanced content, which is provided by SinglePlatform, includes “13,000,000+ dishes to choose from across 300,000+ menus.” The release cites increased search query volume and calls/leads to local restaurants from the menus content:
- Restaurant Searches: Restaurant searches per visitor have more than tripled.
- Phone calls and maps/directions: The number of phone calls and requests for maps/directions to restaurants per visitor has more than doubled.
- Usage: 35% of smartphone users clicked on menus, when available, saving their time and likely the restaurant’s time, too.
AT&T Interactive’s Rohan Chandran, Executive Director of Products, told me yesterday that gas prices have had a similar impact on usage. He confirmed however that “Far and away the dominant category in mobile and online is restaurants.” He said that the menu content from SinglePlatform has helped drive usage that has greatly exceeded their expectations.
Chandran added that enhanced restaurant content and gas prices have helped differentiate YP.com and YP Mobile apps from other local information and content providers in the market. “The core business listings data is highly commoditized,” admitted Chandran. “It’s going to be hard for anyone to survive by offering a pure directory experience.”
He added that the company would be adding additional enhanced content as part of a new, more consumer-centric approach going forward. Chandran also implied that AT&T Interactive might pursue a branded vertical strategy at some point too. Initially the company experimented with three vertical mobile apps but later abandoned the effort.
Chandran’s suggestion of the vertical possibility is interesting because AT&T had previously taken the position that it was going to fit everything “under one roof,” in a single property. The larger point is that AT&T will continue to invest in its consumer business and compete aggressively on that side of local too.
Chandran added that YP Mobile has had great success in the app stores and in some weeks beaten out Yelp for downloads. Reflecting on that success he said, previously “It was almost unthinkable that our app would be up there having that kind of success.” By contrast some directory publishers have decided that they cannot compete effectively on the consumer side and have shifted their orientation to their sales channel and “agency” business.
SinglePlatform is trying to be Switzerland and is negotiating multiple deals with multiple parties. It has deals with Foursquare and The New York Times, for example, with more to be announced.
AT&T Interactive’s Chandran acknowledged that restaurant menus could over time become similarly “commoditized,” just as basic business listings have been. However he said that AT&T would continue to add content, and that menus and gas prices were only the “very beginning.”