Friday, March 11, 2005


I saw this story yesterday and it directly relates to a 60 Minutes piece a few weeks back. I found myself trying to use this yesterday and realized why it will be big, if a company realizes what the goal is. Local search on the Net stinks , let alone with the cellphone.

My idea. Google licenses the database of the Yellow Pages, implements this in their SMS campaign and they dominate local search.

From C/Net News Local mobile search? Hold the phone.

Looking for a great place to eat in an unfamiliar neighborhood? Your cell phone could know just the spot, thanks to a new trend in Web search.

Using a mobile device and SMS, or Short Message Service, wireless customers can now get directions to nearby restaurants and other information from the curb. Analysts say that's a potent combination, not only for consumers, but for the fast-growing Web search business.

What is the problem with local search? Not every small store has their own website, or is listed in the web database. Second, I don't want to go a website I want specific info. What I want is access to A Yellow Pages thru my cell phone.

Because not every small merchant has a website, and the ones that do don't spend money on advertising through a search engine, there's no way your local search will be good.

There are really three things you are looking for with local search. The store/restaurant, location of the store in relation to where you are right now, and probably the phone number.

So local search will only be the "killer app" when access to this info is available.

Many executives believe the time is now right to strike with new search services for wireless devices, specifically text. That's because wireless usage is soaring--more than 200 million people in the United States own a cell phone. And as many as 50 billion text messages will be sent this year--making it a $2 billion industry, according to IDC

In the opposite corner, yellow pages and directory services companies are angling to protect their businesses and advertiser relationships as more people grow accustomed to using new technologies for search. Cell phone carriers also are assessing Internet directory and search services as potential new revenue drivers.

Somehow I think the service providers could offer this faster and easier. If Sprint could determine where you are based on a GPS signal, one big variable is eliminated (if it had to be).
How hard would it be to combine directory assistance data with a short code service?Where does the service provider get their data from?

Howabout a Yellow Pages shortcode SMS service. Send a text to 93574 (YELWPG)with subject "italian restaurant 33432". Instead of issuing one at a time like Google does, issue the top 5 in one SMS.

Take a common info source that people are familiar with (Yellow Pages) and combine a short code SMS service. Part of the problem with SMS services is there is a number of them now, and they are hard to remember. Very easy solution.

The Yellow Book is now the Yellow Net. More reasons to be Yellow. "Send a text to (YELWPG) and get any business listing".

This sounds like an esy way to leverage the Yellow brand.

"When people realize they can get answers fast, cheap and accurately, they will," said Pankaj Shah, founder and CEO of 4Info

Because of its speed and low cost, SMS could prove a viable competitor to "411" directory assistance and to browser-enabled mobile Web search. People have not yet widely adopted browser-enabled search over mobile phones, in part because those services aren't available on all handsets. Ease of use is also a big factor, given that it can take awhile to boot up the Internet via a cell phone, and navigation can be awkward.

It can take seconds to initiate a search via text message, as opposed to more than 15 seconds to start up a mobile browser, for instance

That is why mobile marketing/info will be adopted first via SMS than through the Internet. Advertisers have to realize this by starting with an SMS campaign. Part of the problem too in the States is that most people don't even know what a text message is, let alone how to use it.

Late last year, Google introduced an SMS search service that delivers driving directions and business listings that supplant the need to dial "411." Google does not disclose usage numbers, but Harik said that the SMS product is getting favorable uptake from customers.

What do you think Google does with all of those cellphone numbers they have in their database from all of those SMS requests? That database is gold. You have early adopers of a new technology and people that are most likely tech saavy.

This database is an induatry in itself. The A.C. Nielsen of the mobile phone market.

For this reason, advertising is a black diamond. A future scenario would be to take a cell phone user's personal information--where a person lives, search history, income, current location--and use it to deliver targeted promotions. A New Jersey resident who searches for movie times in Manhattan could receive a coupon for the nearest parking garage and an ad for a local restaurant.

All of these push based marketing ideas will require permission. Getting that permission and not abusing it will be key. But once you do get permission imagine how effective that can be.

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