Yesterday at #LSA14 Neal Polachek and I ran a session on verticals. The thesis or premise of the discussion was something like “verticalize or die.”
On the one hand Google has won the “name and number” horizontal lookup game. On the other verticals are “eating” general directories and local search sites. Publishers and sales channels need to specialize and verticalize to compete or be picked off by deeper and more focused competitors.
It’s a pretty convincing argument but one that may not be entirely accurate. Following the panel I met with YP CEO David Krantz. Among other things, we discussed the company’s relatively recently launched MyBook favorites feature.
MyBook in some ways is the argument against the thesis above. While YP is trying to add deeper content in key categories (and will partner to get it) this personal directory feature makes the site and app more useful and engaging. In other words, adding utility can substitute for content depth in some situations.
There’s an evolving product roadmap that Krantz discussed that includes social and sharing among users. Indeed in an earlier post I speculated, “One can imagine opt-in push notifications tied to saved businesses so that it could be come a CRM-style communications channel for local businesses. I could also imagine a range of other push capabilities tied in.”
Krantz pointed out that the million-plus users of MyBook are generating lots of interesting and useful data for the company that can be used across the business in various ways. And, in a way, top lists and consensus favorites become a viable alternative for reviews in terms of ranking or sorting.
In my view publishers around the world should emulate YP’s strategy specifically and generally — adding a MyBook-like personalization feature but also looking at “core utility” as a way to compete when deeper content and verticalization are either not practical or available.