Like most Canadians my life is greatly influenced by weather. Knowing the forecast helps me make decisions on what I need to wear, what to pack when I travel and where to select a vacation destination. On the business side, I have always been fascinated with weather because it is one of those really boring businesses (nothing sexy about it), has high user frequency and is a pretty decent way to sell targeted advertising.
In fact, after I sold KS2 Solutions in 2005 I almost joined Pelmorex (known for TheWeatherNetwork.com or MetroMedia.com) to head up their sales in Western Canada. I ultimately decided to join Yellow Pages Group in early 2006. In January 2010 I ended up striking a partnership between YellowPages.ca and TheWeatherNetwork.com, read the post here – The Weather Network add Local Search and YellowPages.ca adds Weather – A Deeper Look at this Partnership.
Bottom line – weather has been an important part of my business and personal life.
My latest venture into weather is an investment in a new Montreal based start-up that is taking precipitation forecasting to a hyperlocal level, called SkyMotion Research. You can learn more about the company at SlideShare. They recently had some write-ups in popular blogs, check them out here:
Currently the application is iOS based with an Android version coming soon. See screenshot below which was a short-term forecast at my office in Calgary. You can download the iOS app here. You can also play with the online version at SkyMotion’s website, just enter your address.
I can definitely say that I am not alone when it comes to the importance of weather. Exactly how big is the weather market in Canada? Here are some stats you might find interesting.
Did you know that 30% of YellowPages.ca traffic comes from mobile? Source: YPG.com. This news actually was announced during YPGs 1st quarter results and today, Greg Sterling did a post on his blog regarding this as well, see “YPG: 30% of Our Searches Come from Mobile“. This number is pretty impressive when you consider that only 2-years ago that number represented well less than 1%.
Another piece of news today is that the new YellowPages.ca application is a featured application in the iTunes store – this is pretty big news as you can’t buy your way to this placement, your application has to be deemed pretty good for the Apple editorial team to pick up.
For this blog post I thought it would be great to take a look back.
Having been with YPG since 2006, as an employee (actually been working with the company since 2001), I managed the team that launched YPG into the world of iPhone applications. Back in 2009 there was not a lot of focus on mobile, but since then the mobile team has expanded and is now under the leadership of Matthieu Houle, a colleague and friend of mine who as we say at YPG, is “rocking da house”. Under his leadership there have been 2 more releases of the YellowPages.ca iPhone application with the most recent only 1 month old.
Here is the evolution of the home page of the iPhone Application for YellowPages.ca
2009 (features included basic search for business, people and reverse, display ads, photos and videos)
2010 (features included hot links to popular categories, streamlined and more intuitive interface, all YP.ca content including videos and photos)
2011 (features include ratings and reviews, type ahead for categories and locations and customizable popular buttons)
Download the latest application here in the iTunes store.
On November 8, 2009, I did a blog post, “Canada’s Yellow Pages(TM) Mobile App, over 1/2 Million Downloads and 3 Reasons for its Success” which in terms of the number of downloads is no longer accurate (we are over a couple of million) but the 3 reasons why I believe Canadians love this application hold.
If you don’t want to read the full article, let me summarize the 3 reasons why back then Canadians loved this app and why it holds true today –
2) Content (even more so today) and
3) Usability (which gets better with every release).
How important is it for a local business to ensure that its basic listing data (name, phone number and address) is included in the YellowPages.ca database?
How important is it for a local business to ensure that its enhanced content (hours of operations, products, services, etc) are also included in the YellowPages.ca database?
Ultimately the above questions boil down to, “what’s in in for the SMB”. To help answer this, I have created the following eco-system slide that shows how/who the data from yellowpages.ca gets distributed across the consumer eco-system in Canada. NOTE: This is a representative sample of partnerships of companies that use portions or all of the yellowpages.ca database to offer a local connection to its audience.
For an SMB this boils down to two main reasons why this is important:
1) Time Saving – by having a central distribution of basic + enhanced listing data a SMB does not have to spend time to manage their data in multiple locations.
2) Consistency of Information – having the same information appear in a consistent manner across this eco-system allows a SMB to manage and control their message in a more manageable way.
If it is true that the users will continue to splinter into more consumer platforms it will become more and more critical for a centralized hub that can distribute that information.
In Canada, YellowPages.ca is a very important hub for the SMB market.
What do you think?
The last couple of months have been extremely busy on the business development front at Yellow Pages Group, hence my lack of posting. However, one integration that we have completed and launched is with Yahoo Mobile where we integrated YellowPages.ca data through our YellowAPI platform. This is a great win for Yahoo users and a great win for YPG advertisers.
Here is a walk through:
If you have not already, check out Yahoo on your iPhone. You can do this by typing in Yahoo.com or Yahoo.ca or going directly to m.Yahoo.com. You will land at the following home page:
If this is the first time you visit this page, Yahoo will ask you to use your location. If you select yes, it will use your current default location. Now you have two search options –
1) type in any local query, such as Dentists or
2) type in Dentists, Location if you want to search outside of your location.
Next you will be presented with the local results. Note: yahoo did a great job of detecting local intent queries, meaning, that in the above example for Dentists – the local results are at the top of the page, whereas if you searches for Britney Spears, you would not see any local results provided by YellowPages.ca.
At the search results level you have 3 options. First option is to click on the company name to get more details (see screenshot below), second option is to call the business directly or third option is to see more results.
If you select the first option you are automatically redirected to mobile.yp.ca (which is the mobile enhanced version of yellowpages.ca) where all the content, ad, video, pictures, maps, etc. are mobile optimized.
So what do you think of this integration?
Well the last 7-days have been nothing short of a great week for YellowPages.ca mobile.
- 1.8M downloads of its mobile applications
- 20% of business looks-up are coming from Mobile by the end of 2010
- launch of the Windows Mobile 7 Application, first local search application for Windows Mobile 7 (read press release)
- integration on one of Canada’s largest mobile news applications and mobile website, The Globe and Mail
- launch of AutoTrader.ca application for Blackberry (check out the Blackberry App World to download)
All in all, the momentum of YellowPages.ca is pretty impressive and is generating massive value for users and businesses a like.
In case you missed it, here is the screenshot of the Globe and Mail integration:
Download the Globe and Mail application from iTunes.
For the full list of mobile application provided by YellowPages.ca, check out YellowPages.ca Mobile.
In case you are wondering what the reach of Yellow Pages Group is on the web, check out my post from last week; Yellow Pages Group is Canada’s Largest Canadian Internet Company! Is It True? Yes, Here’s Why [Part 1]
Over the past few years I have blogged often about news in the Canadian Space regarding mobile. Up until this point in time, I never stated explicitly that mobile was a necessity for SMBs in Canada but, we are at the tipping point in Canada of mobile usage (especially SmartPhone usage) and it is now very important for SMBs to start thinking mobile and most importantly make sure their content is mobile friendly.
What is mobile friendly content from a SMB? In a nutshell, it is when you can view your content on a mobile device (Apple iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.) in a native format by which the user does not have to zoom or pinch the screen (for all your iPhone users). For this example, I am going to use my personal Dentist, Optimum Dentistry in Marda Loop to demonstrate the difference between Mobile Enhanced Content and Rendering on a Mobile Phone.
This is Rendering on a iPhone (and is not mobile enhanced content):
Hours of Operations Page:
This is Mobile Enhanced Content:
Hours of Operations Page:
As a user – which one your you prefer to land on?
Mobile enhanced content basically means rendering for the native device in which the user is viewing, which really means that your website designer need to put some specific code on your website that detects the users device and serves up content formatted for that device.
Normally, mobile sites will consist of less content than website. Keep in simple – a) what you do, b) hours of operations, c) map and driving directions (you can usually use the native device for this), d) what you sell. Keep all the enhanced content, flash, massive photo galleris and in some cases if you have advanced forms or e-commerce off you mobile site; devices are too small and in mobile, LESS = MORE.
1) If you don’t own a iPhone or Blackberry, find somebody who does and type in your website URL on the phone’s browser
2) If your site looks like the first example above, it is not mobile enhanced, call your web designer and if he/she can’t help, fire them and find somebody else
3) If your site looks like the second example above, then you are good to go
What About Mobile Marketing in Canada?
Well this is where it gets very easy. There are really 2 key places that you need to be concerned about when it comes to mobile marketing in Canada. Google and YellowPages.ca. NOTE: if you are a client of YellowPages.ca, all your business listing information gets syndicated to Google (as well as MSN and Yahoo). If you want a quick snapshot of syndication in Canada, check out an old blog post titled – Directory Assistance in Canada – Paid and Free DA – Facts Every Consumer and Small Business Owner Should Know.
Both Google and YellowPages.ca are completely mobile enhanced web properties. See examples below for looking at data on Ramanda Hotel and Suites in Vancouver.
To learn more about Google Mobile click here.
To learn more about YellowPages.ca Mobile click here.
The above are mobile web. In the application space, Google does not disclose its download numbers, but YellowPages.ca has now been downloaded over 1.8M times, which by all accounts makes it the most downloaded local application in Canada. At this point, any content that you have on YellowPages.ca is automatically ported over to YellowPages.ca Mobile + YellowPages.ca Mobile Applications, so SMBs are getting growing coverage.
In March of this year, I posted the following blog post which shows you some screenshots of the iPhone application by YellowPages.ca – New YellowPages.ca Mobile Application Available. In June, I followed up with the following post introducing the iPad application for YellowPages.ca – First Look – YellowPages.ca iPad Application which managed to become #1 within 24-hours of its launch and has consistently stayed in the top 50 downloaded applications.
Screenshot of iPad Application Search Results:
Enhanced SMB Content on the iPad:
Lastly, back in April I did a comparison of the top mobile applications in Canada, from a SMB perspective – the voting is still open if you want to vote for your favorite mobile interface, please do so.
In Conclusion …. 3 Tips for Canadian SMBs on Mobile Thinking
1) Make sure your content is mobile enhanced on your website URL (talk to your web design company)
2) Make sure your content is distributed in YellowPages.ca and Google (this will give you the majority of coverage and at this point is included in both offerings, no need to pay extra)
3) In your analytics, track the number of mobile views (you will probably be surprised at the increasing number of your customers who are accessing your basic business data via mobile).
Overtime as the mobile space heats up, this simplified strategy will change, but for now, keep it simple, prep your content and start to monitor usage.
Yellow Pages Group is Canada’s Largest Canadian Internet Company! Is It True? Yes, Here’s Why [Part 1]
Full disclosure; I am the head of business development for Yellow Pages Group in Canada, check out my LinkedIn profile. What I will share with you below is public information that I felt was time to compile into one post. With the recent announcement of the SMB Targeted Campaign by YPG and with prominant bloggers like Greg Sterling posting, “YPG Aims New Brand Campaign at SMBs” the question will be raised – is it true? Is Yellow Pages Group Canada really the largest Canadian Internet company?
I get asked a lot about YPG in networking events, from former colleagues and friends as to what exactly is YPG doing in the online space. Many people wrongly assume that we simply print books and that we are irrelevant to SMBs when it comes to the web. When explained to them how active YPG is online, what properties we own, and our mission to put our advertisers in the “path of ready to buy consumers”, they usually start to see the full picture of how RELEVANT YPG actually is in the Canadian Internet Landscape and why I am as passionate as I am about this business.
To start with, here is the print ad that is running across the country and here is a link to the Radio Ads:
I will break this post into the following 3 parts to explain the rationale regarding this claim of Canada’s Largest Internet Company:
#1) Let’s Talk Reach and Distribution
When I talk reach, I like to use a third party company to measure relative reach. Therefore, below I will use ComScore Media Metrix as the benchmark to speak about reach. There are other methods to track reach, a) internal logs, b) alexa, c) compete, etc. but in the Canadian Media Landscape – Comscore is still a standard when it comes to companies making decisions about spending on digital ad budgets as well as completely independent, therefore I use them as the benchmark.
Let’s start by looking at the September 2010 ComScore Numbers for the top 20 Properties used by Canadians. Here is the list:
If you re-sort this list based to only Canadian Owned Companies, or majority owned by Canadians, the top 20 list breaks down to only 6 companies.
#1) Yellow Pages Group
#2) Sympatico.ca Property
#3) Canoe Network
#5) Postmedia Network (formerly, CanWest Interactive)
#6) The Weather Network Meteomedia
Based on this metric, it is clear that YPG is in fact Canada’s largest Canadian Owned Internet company.
One important aspect of the YPG network is its unique position of “ready to buy consumers” who have location intentions. The portfolio of properties that makes up Yellow Pages Group (see below) are a collection of sites that have intention to buy as a common element. This is a powerful as other leading web properties are focused on or have elements of research, education or entertainment. The leading search engine, Google, reports that 20% of their queries are location based as an example of how even major search engines are only partially used for the purposes of local.
In terms of the buying funnel it is very accurate to say that YPG Users are closer to the buying decision, which makes them highly qualified leads. If you disagree with this, I would like to hear your opinion why?
Here is a sample of the sites that make up the Yellow Pages Group network:
- YellowPages.ca & PagesJaunes.ca
- AutoTrader.ca & AutoHebdo.net
On the Social Front – earlier this year I did a post on How Social is Yellow Pages Group in Canada – if you are interested, check out to see how active we are in Social Media.
On the distribution front, YPG is one of Canada’s most active companies that continually looks to distribute its content + its advertisers content throughout the web eco-system. Let’s take a look at some examples:
Search Engines – YPG listing data is distributed to Google, Yahoo and MSN. If your business is listed on YellowPages.ca, it will be listed on all major search engines in Canada. See attribution at the bottom of this sample from Google.
Major Portals – YellowPages.ca is integrated on all of Canada’s major portals, MSN, Sympatico, Yahoo, AOL, PostMedia Network, The Weather Network to name a few. Here are some example of doing a search for DENTISTS-TORONTO:
PostMedia Including Sites Such as:
Canada.com – Dentists in Canada
Montreal Gazette – Dentists in Montreal
Calgary Herald – Dentists in Calgary
Vancouver Sun – Dentists in Vancouver
Edmonton Journal – Dentists in Edmonton
Ottawa Citizen – Dentists in Ottawa
Telcos – Distribution through major Telco websites including Bell.ca, MyTelus.com, MTS through MyWinnipeg.com, Bell Aliant, NorthernTel, TBay Tel.
YellowAPI.com – The Yellow API allows ANYONE to build their own applications and mashups by providing dynamic local business data. We supply you the tools to encourage innovation and expand your audience reach to 33 million people. Read more about our data and opportunities in the Overview.
In June, YPG debuted its iPad Application (see my post when this was the #1 app in iTunes) and according to the press release was approaching 1 Million Downloads of its mobile applications. As of today, this number is well over 1 Million.
Think about this for a second.
Over 1 Million Downloads of applications, for a 100% pure Canadian application that is not a game. There are many great Canadians Applications for SmartPhones, TheWeatherNetwork, GlobeandMail, Sportnet, etc. which all are incredible in their vertical, but YPG is the only one focused solely on connecting local buyers and consumers – that is pretty cool.
In terms of mobile development YPG Canada is also a leader, releasing a specific version for each major platform used by Canadians. Check out more at Yellow Pages Mobile.
Although there is no 3rd party that benchmarks applications, I can tell you personally that I have talked with many of the major players in Canada and the US and at over 1M downloads, YPG is not only a leader in Canada (all agree that we likely #1) but would be a leading application down south as well. When it comes to local mobile applications, there is little doubt that YPG would be #1.
So What Does This Mean For a Small Business
If your business relies on directive advertising as a source of leads, YPG still drives a significant number of leads. In my upcoming post on revenue and the SMB portfolio, I will explain how YPG has embraced other sources of lead management for SMBs, namely Search Engines, to continue to drive its mission of connecting buyers and sellers.
In the interim, I suggest you take a look at the following posts, some of these are a couple of years old but still very relevant for Small Business Owners.
What Do You Think of Part 1?
Here are some recent videos from some team members at Yellow Pages Group talking about SEO and SEM.
First up, In this clip we sit down with John Fanous and Bill Aver of the Yellow Pages Group to chat about Local SEO. We caught up with John and Bill at SES Toronto 2010.
John discusses how the Yellow Pages is in the business of helping businesses be found, and their new Local SEO offering is designed to help businesses be found online. Bill and John also touch on why this offering doesn’t represent a coflict of interest vis a vis their print directory. NOTE: this was originally posted on the NVI Blog.
Second, Sean Ballard, product manager who launched Yellow Pages Group’s SES Solutions in February of this year speaks about Acquiso, one of the leading PPC management tools for agencies and clients who manage lots of SEM campaigns.
FInally, this is a repost on my blog, but here is the video for Yellow Pages Group Search Engine Solutions product, featuring our VP of Performance Marketing, Tracy Smith.
Blast From the Past
To prove that SEM and SEO is not a new topic at Yellow Pages Group, here is my interview with Greg Jarboe at SES Toronto back in 2008 explaining why YPG invaded the conference:
I have a very close friend of mine that was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease. In case you are not aware, Celiac’s is a is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. Read more at Wikipedia or Celiac.com.
The way to manage Celiac’s is to go on a strick Gluten-Free diet (or the removal of all wheat product from your diet). If my friend eats food with gluten in it, it can put her in bed for a couple of days and can be quite painful. On a personal note, I have also moved to a gluten-free reduced diet with my wife since the fall of last year.
Since my wife and I started our gluten-free reduces lifestyle we find the web is a pretty good place to go for generic information on going gluten-free. One of the challenges is looking for for gluten-free restaurants in cities. Not saying that it does not work but here are my specific issues with using the web.
Try – “gluten-free in XXXXX” where XXXXX is any city. You will usually end up with links to information sources on celiac’s or gluten-free and some resources of Gluten-Free restaurants. Some local businesses who have done a good job of optimizing for this keyword will rise to the top, but in a lot of cases, I notice businesses who say they have gluten-free options which does not mean they have a specific gluten-free menu. As my friend pointed out, it can be extremely frustrating to find details on either gluten-free menu’s or restaurants that cater to people with Celiac’s (which BTW cross-contamination can be a big issue).
So my specific issue with the web:
1) results for a city are usually a hodgepodge or results of “information” sites and some local sites
2) some of the directories have way to many restaurants come up under gluten-free but there is no information as to specific gluten-free menus or how they prevent cross-contamination. Net effect, not really relevant.
3) I need to be in front of computer. This can be a real challenge when you are on the go to have to boot up your computer. My mobile phone is always on me and trying to surf the web on a mobile phone can be challenging at best.
I have recently discovered a really cool application for my iPhone called Celiac Feed. In a nutshell; a user generated application that works based on the location of your iPhone to provide you with a list of restaurants/bakeries in your area that provide gluten-free options. The locations only make the list when one of the users recommends. In the Celiac world I have found out that people love to share information and really support each other. Therefore, the level of trust from these recommendations goes way up.
This application was probably one reason why my friend decided to purchase her iPhone as opposed to a Blackberry. She was on the fence for awhile in terms of which one she would buy. After I showed her this application (and although the information in Canada is limited) and the user base seems pretty small at this point, she decided on the iPhone and has been active on this application every since.
This got me thinking about the major shift that is happening to mobile. Was this one case where the application drove a sale of hardware and how many times a day is this happening now? Not sure if you agree this is a profound as I think it is, but I find it very interesting that a tiny niche application can drive a $500+ sale. For me, this is transformative as more and more devices become ubiquitous, it will be the utility of the device that will drive sales.
For niche local based applications, smart phones are far more superior than trying to search on the web. As an example, this morning at the Bed and Breakfast we are staying in (The Cottage in Qualicum Beach, BC) the owners knew we had people coming with a gluten-free intolerance and actually went out and purchased Gluten-Free bread for us. The bread itself was amazing, it actually tasted like real bread. They bought it at a place called Village Bulk Foods that has in it a Silly-Yak Bakery (a gluten-free kitchen) where they make breads, muffins and more.
So I immediately added this a recommendation to Celiac Feed along with my comments for everybody in this community. This was easier that trying to go to the web to post and is now immediately available to this mobile community.
If you have a gluten-free intolerance and an iPhone, I strongly recommend you download and Celiac Feed application it works well. More people need to use and contribute to it to make it really rock in Canada.
Here are some screenshots of the application from my location in Qualicum Beach, BC.
Have you tried other gluten-free applications for your smart phone? Please comment below with your experiences in using mobile in a niche way.
Well it is Friday night and I had another week of travelling. This week I was down at the Chirp Conference (first developers conference for Twitter) in San Francisco. The team at TechCrunch did a great job of covering the conference, here are some articles to check out if you have not already:
– Twitter has 105,779,710 Registered Users, Adding 300K A Day
- Twitter Adds Places To Its Geo-Tweets, Just Don’t Call It A Check-In
- Live From Chirp: Twitter’s Platform Roadmap
- Ev Explains Twitter’s Move Into Mobile Apps: “Otherwise We Are Failing Users”
So enough about Chirp, this has been covered extensively this week.
While I am waiting for my wife I was playing with my iPhone, actually wishing I had an iPad (after the Chirp conference and speaking to a number of people about their iPads, I am convinced that I need to buy one, but that for another day). Back to my iPhone – I was playing with Mobile Web, not iPhone applications and I got to wondering about the Mobile Web experiences for Canadians?
So here is what I did.
I visited the following sites through my Safari browser on my phone. Google.ca, YellowPages.ca, Yahoo.ca, and 411.ca. I tried to visit yelp.ca, but it gave me their actual website, not their mobile enhanced so they are not included.
I then entered the exact search term “restaurants toronto” for each site and was presented with their results. The screenshots below are the results page for each of the above websites. Check them out yourself.
So here is what I want to know? Based on the screenshots below for the search “restaurants toronto” and nothing but the screenshots below, which mobile application provides the best results? I am going to leave it as best results, you decide whether best results mean content, look and feel or brand loyalty.
In alphabetical order:
One more screenshot from an application that I am testing on my iPhone (it is not available to the general public yet) called Urbanizer, mood based searching. This application is going to rock. You can subscribe to get notified when it is available in the app store.
If we are missing your favorite mobile web application, put the URL in the comments, I would be happy to add it to this post.