Mobile Marketing

AT&T Touts Human Side of Online Search

YP.com

YP.com attempts to connect on the emotional side of searching

Elaine Wong talks about the new ad campaign from AT&T and the rebranding of YP.com. AT&T has launched an integrated online/offline campaign that builds on the rebranding YP.com. YP.com is America’s version of yellowpages.com.au which currently is among the top 40 Web domains in the U.S. and the site attracts more than 30 million unique visitors a month. Eric Soderstrom VP of brand management and advertising at AT&T speaks about how the goal of the campaign is to shift away from the basic ‘functional’ side of local searching and make a connection with the ‘emotional’ side. The campaign is targeted towards consumers aged 18 to 35 that are digitally savvy in which Eric Soderstrom refers to them as ‘digital do-mores’. Article link: www.brandweek.com

I was quite intrigued to see how different the YP.com website was to the Sensis Australian yellowpages.com.au. When I punched in the URL I was presented with a very impressive home page, much more attractive than the Australian version. The site looks clean, exciting, inviting and presents the user with a fresh and contemporary feel. The website boasts great functionality with the user having the ability to search for a used car, book a table at a restaurant or purchase movie tickets, it has become a hub or one stop shop for consumers. The website also ads an online customer rating system for particular businesses such as restaurants. Although they are not ground breaking features in anyway, it does reinforce Eric Soderstrom’s comments and the underpinning message of the campaign that is emotional searching and personal experiences. The idea of focusing on personal experiences ties in with the social media functionality of the website. These features help promote brand awareness for YP.com and their B2B customers throughout the social media network. It is evidently clear that AT&T is attempting to re invent the yellow pages in order to give it a firm place in the digital age, I applaud their approach to the website and the campaign they have launched.

Online or Offline?

The decision to promote through a majority of offline channels I believe was used in order to achieve greater awareness and to engage in longer episodes with the customer. A study of Consumer perceptions of the Internet and different media by Branthwaite et al. (2000), showed that consumers perceived the internet to be less like a medium of communication than others and more like a reservoir of information. TV and Print channels were also found to affect mood of the consumer in a relaxed and seeking exceptional gratification manner.

The Book

The Yellow pages book has been a reliable product that has provided a wealth of information for over 100 years, the association has had built a great customer and emotional loyalty over time. According to a 2007 Knowledge Networks/SRI (KN/SRI) Industry Usage Study, approximately 85 percent of the U.S population used the printed Yellow Pages book. The brand has existed amongst generations, and the walking fingers logo has always been a sign of reliable resource, but I believe the Yellow pages print book to be a product that is quickly approaching its last days. Of course there will always be a demand from certain audiences to use the print book, but as we can see from Eric Soderstrom’s comments, this campaign is targeted towards a younger generation, a generation of new users. The Yellow Pages book sits in a similar situation to that of the humble newspaper, they are products that can’t keep up with the demand of instant gratification and supply of information their online counterparts deliver. This instant supply of information has already been with us for a number of years in the form of search engine websites, these sites represent a threat for YP.com, mainly due to a number of factors including larger networks of data and more intuitive methods of searching e.g. Keyword search and phrase search. It is these threats that I believe will drive the Yellow pages association to make a full fledge commitment to an online service, we can already see this has taken place with the new website.

Moving Forward

The current YP.com offers a great service, it has the feel of a website similar to Tripadvisor.com and employs a lot of Web 2.0 principles. The stats for monthly unique visitors are impressive and the brand loyalty has been embedded throughout generations. But in a day and age where everything moves at lighting speed and we constantly bombarded with new web and mobile services, we face the issue of being overloaded with too many choices and too little time. Seth Godin at the 2003 T.E.D conference spoke about the idea of making things remarkable in order to be seen, I would like to see the same approach taken with the Yellow Pages association. I would like to see the boundaries pushed beyond what we have already seen, I would like to see the Yellow Pages association adopt the mind set of Google and use different and interesting ways of searching, I would really like to see that tag line of “Click less, Live more” into full effect to cement the Yellow Pages a place in the future. 8)

Resources:

(KN/SRI) Industry Usage Study
<http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/New-Research-Shows-Overall-Yellow-Pages-Usage-Growing-172-Billion-Searches-in-2007-825649.htm&gt;

Consumer perceptions of the Internet and different media, Branthwaite et al. (2000)
Dave Chaffey’s Internet Marketing ( page 456, chapter 8 )


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