Sunday, June 27, 2010

Truelocal vs Yellow Pages - 1:10 traffic ratio?

If the news is right that is the ratio of users on those two sites in Australia. Our stats of visitors sourced from those sites follow a similar ratio (actually 1:35). I do wonder what the real stats are if you strip out the advertisers checking their ads or reviewing the competition (probably both lower).

TrueLocal is owned by News Corporation:

TrueLocal is an online directory of Australian businesses. We now have over 5.4 million searches per month and are continually growing1.

What makes us different than other online business directories? A number of things, actually, how about these for starters:

  • Search results are listed by relevance and location so users can always find precisely what they’re looking for.
  • Ratings and reviews which lets users learn more about listed businesses and share their thoughts with other brilliant likeminded souls. It also lets advertisers keep up-to-date with what people are saying about their business and get referrals.
  • You can find us on mobile phones. TrueLocal is available on Optus, Vodafone, 3 and Virgin Mobile.
  • Business listings are automatically listed on Google Maps, Yahoo!7 Local Search, Optus, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Broadband, Navman, Mio and over 125 websites across the News Digital Media Network.
Yellow Pages is owned by Telstra:
Yellow™ has been an extremely successful advertising directory business for over 80 years, and now helps an incredible 9 million1Australians find the products and services they need each month.

Yellow™ Advertising Solutions - A Snapshot

Yellow™ Directory: 6 metropolitan directories and 52 regional directories.

Yellow™ Local: 31 local directories. is one of Australia’s most visited directory sites which puts businesses at the fingertips of more people everyday.

Ninemsn's mylocal: Yellow™’s recent association with ninemsn, Australia’s #1 website, provides greater opportunities for both Yellow™ advertisers and ninemsn users. Now users of ninemsn’s MyLocal will have access to Yellow’s™ comprehensive local business database. This is great news for Yellow™ advertisers as they receive a free listing on ninemsn’s MyLocal giving them more exposure and reach online.

I could be cheeky and throw Google in there as well - although they don't charge for listing on their "search" directory and their model is to remove the intermediary and go straight to the primary source (ie the actual website).

It's very hard to break the hold of an established brand by going head to head. 

Incidentally that's also why newspapers aren't going to disappear any time soon - unless they allow themselves to whither away. One good way is to ensure editorial independence, present both sides of an argument and engage in high quality journalism.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Progress over time: The law of diminishing returns?

I haven't posted for a little while. Partly this is a result of other activities keeping me busy partly reflecting about the graphs below.

Essentially, I think all our optimisation efforts are hitting a point of diminishing returns.

Graph 1 below shows the percentage of traffic generated from a range of sources over the last 12 months. Amongst other things it shows a useful reduction in reliance on pay per click advertising and people knowing about the site and entering the name directly (probably mostly staff). It also shows that over time search engines are now bringing in 60% of all traffic while directories and other related sites are bringing in a lesser proportion of visitors (although in absolute terms the numbers are up).

Graph 2 shows relative performance against a baseline of 12 months ago ie today our traffic numbers and total pages visited is nearly 60% more than a year ago. This is quite an improvement. Total visitors and pages viewed track closely as over time the number of pages viewed per unique visitor has not changed significantly. Unfortunately the other trend that can be observed from the graph is that the rate of improvement is slowing down - we are getting less improvements from our incremental effort.

Perhaps we are reaching the point where incremental effort is not justified. Overall ranking on search engines etc is improving as is shown by the relative improvement in traffic generated. There is still more work that can be done there but perhaps a fundamental shift to our approach is required to lift performance to another level. Have you experienced this phenomenon with your web optimisation effort? What did you do to break out of these limits?

Friday, September 11, 2009

More businesses advertising online than in print

Yet another indication of how industries can be transformed by technology comes from the US where the Kelsey Group reports there are now more small and medium businesses in the US advertising online than in traditional media.

Specifically 77% of US businesses use online advertising in August 2009 compared to 69% using traditional media. Last year the figures were about even.

However, the spending profile is different. Business is still putting more of their budget towards traditional media (nearly two thirds) although during the last year the share of online has increased from 22% to 37%.

That is a significant growth in an environment when overall advertising spending is down. ie while business cut back advertising they invested more in online. Perhaps this was largely driven by better proof points around return on investment or alternatively the relatively small amount of money needed to reach a wider audience.

In Australia these figures are likely to be much lower although the same trend over time is likely to apply. Business already spends $1.8bn advertising online.