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Yellow pages pay per click targets lawyers

On March 1 SuperPages, Verizon’s Internet Yellow Pages website, will launch a redesigned website which includes pay per click advertising that will of course target the lawyer. Better yet they will have lawyers bid against each other to see who is willing to be the greater fool. Funny though that their offline sales force does not like the idea that lawyers can opt out when things do not turn out as planned – the yellow page sales force, who I hold in the highest regard, want to hold lawyers to the annual contract so they can grab their higher commission. Read more about what this ‘pay per click analyst’ says to see what’s coming and what you are going to be hearing from the yellow page folks.

The re-launch of the website, planned for March the 1st, will introduce a new layout of search result which includes pay per click adverts at the top of results, as well as SuperPages existing fixed-fee advertising below. This hybrid combination will, according to Directory of Strategy James Palma, allow the company to target advertisers who are prepared to manage PPC adverts.

Palma continues: “Equally as important is the flexibility they have over their spending throughout the year. Advertisers can tailor their program based on the needs of their business and establish the rate they are willing to pay for a lead. It puts the control and definition of value in the hands of the advertiser. Of course, some may want to do both depending on categories and geographies. We want to accommodate all of our advertisers’ needs.” SuperPages is asking advertisers to select the category(s) that fit their business (e.g. “Travel Agents – Cruise Line” and “Cruise Agents”) and then bid for appearing on the results page for those category(s). Advertisers then choose to show their adverts on a national or local basis by selecting areas from a map.

Although advertisers can still buy keywords, SuperPages will map keywords (e.g. cruises) to individual categories when consumers carry out searches. Minimum bids are set based on the category in question – so lawyers, for example, may pay more per click than lumber yards. Auto bidding technology is expected to be available, and the use of 3rd party tools may be permitted at a later date.

They are facing one obstacle:

…the reluctance of the traditional sale forces of Yellow Pages publishers to sell an online product at a variable price, after decades of selling a simple, fixed fee printed listing. James Palma points out that SuperPages is already selling online adverts to small business through it’s combined sales force of 2,100 telemarketers and “pavement pounding” salesman, and expects the transition to selling PPC to be smooth. The companies established relationship with advertisers may put it ahead of likely competitors Google and Overture, who do not have established traditional sales forces.

There may be one advantage for consumers in being able to get profiles on lawyers:

After clicking on an advertiser’s listing on the new website, consumers are taken to a ‘Business Profile’ page which includes the company address and telephone number, email and website details if applicable, and links to a map and driving directions to the business.

Expect to see someone like Martindale-Hubbell strike a deal, if it has not already, to provide their lawyer bios to SuperPages.com. Surprisingly, the yellow pages may now need Martindale more than the other way around.

SuperPages.com says what they are doing is a real plus to advertisers in that what it offers is a clear challenge to the local search ambitions of Google and Yahoo!’s Overture and promotes real competition in the marketplace. I don’t know about that – the last folks I would trust when it comes to competition and playing fairly are yellow page salespeople.

If I am a lawyer, I’d go slow on this. People’s browsing habits are to migrate to the search engines – not to SuperPages.com.

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