Finda and Yellow: they had already lost

Business listings is a winner take all game right? After all – why would you have more than one set of Yellow Pages in your house? So Yellow’s purchase of Finda is a great move. Right?

Well not exactly. When was the last time you used Wises, Finda, Yellow Pages or UBD?

My answer is – I can’t remember.

On Monday I needed a Physio, and so I turned to Google and googled “physotherapist Wellington”. That was the actual  spelling, and after clicking the “did you mean..” I got a nice summary of what was around, along with the regular search results:
Google

From there I clicked through to a great map:
Google
Where I found a couple of options, clucked through to their websites, chose one (Te Aro Physio) and was delighted by their service. (Really – I recommend them)

So I tried the same search on Wises. Again I made a typo – it wasn’t deliberate. What I got wasn’t exactly compelling:
Wises
So I slowed down, typed it correctly and got this:
Wises
Well useful, but clearly the Google results are better. Firstly the zoom level was automatically correct, and secondly the number of Physios reported was just 10, versus 38 for Google. Worst of all Te Aro Physio – a fairly sizeable outfit – was not on the list.

Next I tried Finda, slowing down my poor typing so that the auto-guess system could work. I got this list, showing 26 in Wellington Central and 49 in the region. No maps, but I just noticed that there is a display in maps function. That gives an OK view, once zoomed in (same as Wises) but again there is no Te Aro Physio. No wonder I was able to get a same day appointment.
Finda

For completeness I tried to use a paper Yellow Pages to find physios as well. But there does not seem to be one in the house. It’s not even my house – I’m borrowing high speed internet at my parent’s place right now – they are over 70 and have no paper yellow pages.

So I tried the Yellow Pages site. They found 36 Physios in Wellington City, an did include Te Aro Physio. They had a link to the website, and even offered directions. So good on them.

 Yellow.co.nz
They had a map:
Yellow
 
But that map was small, ugly, and the site covered in advertisements that moved around and it just doesn’t feel nice. It feels like a money grubbing commercial site, and that login button didn’t help.

I’ll be sticking to Google, and knowing them they will keep improving so that they stay ahead of everybody else.

Back to the deal. Yellow’s website seems to be ugly, but already better than those of Finda et al. Taking Finda and co out will reduce competition for classified advertising dollars, but unless Yellow keeps them alive I can’t see a lot of upside in Yellow Pages listing prices. It’s a recession people. Perhaps Yellow feels that they can get more advertising spend from the sites, especially by sharing listings. But we are near the end of days.

To me it’s a play that slows the inevitable doom for Yellow. The “goodness” of the deal comes down to the sale price, and sadly we are not hearing what that is. But I will give a hearty “Well Done” to APN, for exiting out of a dead market.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
This entry was posted in Internet Business, Investing, NZ Business. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Finda and Yellow: they had already lost

  1. stuartm says:

    I agree that Google Local is far more useful than either Yellow or Finda, but what Finda has going for it is really high Google ranking in search results. I often come across Finda listings in Google when searching for businesses. And as far as sales revenue goes, I’m sure that Finda must be financially sound as they have a very good sales team and exorbitant prices.

  2. Ben says:

    Google’s local business listings appear to be supplied by Finda (see the link at the bottom of the Google maps page). I discovered this when looking for fitness centres in Lower Hutt… the new Les Mills isn’t included there, but turns up in Yellow’s results.

    On the bright side, both list ‘Kiwi Pole Fitness’. If I join there I’ll be sure to vlog my workouts.

  3. Another perspective Lance, somewhat cynical but all the same commercially motivated.

    Take one smart ambitious entrepreneurial Aucklandler, let’s for the sake of example call him Shane.

    He sees a gaping hole in the market for business profiling online as Telecom seems to be ignoring online and focusing on paper based directories and a new online investment called Ferrit. Shane thinks if I am smart and make a smart site some greedy media company will buy it off me!

    Low and behold 2 years later as the media companies jostle for advantage in the new media space following Fairfax’s jaw dropping $700m for Trade me, APN thinks – here is a goldmine called Finda – that will fit well with our wises business and is a good advertising base to add to our portfolio now we realise we really need more online than just NZ Herald. So they offer to buy 50% of Shane’s business as long as he keep running it and by the way can he also help us with our online strategy as we cannot seem to find anyone who really understands it.

    So another 2 years pass in which APN buys up all the shares in Finda and Telecom divests in Yellow pages to a rich and somewhat naive private equity fund for a seriously over valued price. The new management of Yellow seeking to demonstrate to their new owners that they can make the yellow site the #1 search online as the print book is (strange ambition given Google’s unassailable lead) seek out whatever partnership they can as well as investing heavily in traditional advertising offline in an effort to build traffic.

    Finding the going tough given the APN leveraged media profile of finda (seen a few finda ads on NZ Herald lately or on outdoor billboards owned by APN media?) Yellow finally decide that the only solution is to take out the competitor.

    End result – happy Shane, happy APN, challenged Yellow – I wish them luck!

  4. anonymous says:

    Scroll down to the bottom of the Google map search page:

    “Business listings provided by Finda™”

  5. Peter says:

    Another great posting Lance.

    I have wondered why more people don’t use the direct listing on google maps when looking for directories to list with. However with finda supplying listings to Google then it makes sense to list with finda and kill 2 birds with one stone.

    I like finda, but find it limiting, I dislike yellow as I find their search response to be generally irrelevant (especially if using a site search from google). Yellow’s issues may come from a lack of optimisation as this is the only reason I can think of as to why their results would be so poor.

    The key issue i have with Yellow is the cost of listing online and the very poor effort they have made at optimising their site. To see how far off the point Yellow are just google for a business you are looking for and then if a Yellow google ad pops up you will clearly see the lack of relevance they have to search terms.

    Yellow pages have changed tact recently and started to advertise for SEO and SEM staff in December while at the same time Yellow laid off graphic designers. So it would appear that Yellow are moving to improve the search results of their service online and focus less on their print ads.

    I have always thought Yellow was in the best position in NZ to take advantage of the under utilised text ad space focused on a regional (local) approach. Using the same concept as google ad words Yellow could use their own listings to offer the service to NZ focused websites and target based on demographic and location. Yellow must have the most comprehensive database of business information in NZ so why not expand their service? It would seem like the obvious choice to me and with the already massive number of paying clients they could focus on delivering a real service rather than a continuing to deliver a very average directory. Surely Yellow could find plenty of sites (even their own advertisers) to use this service and with a NZ focused company in the market I think the results would easily outstrip googles.

    food for thought. I look forward to the next post.

  6. Phnite says:

    Only 60% of NZ businesses have a web site so without Yellow, Finda, NZS etc they would never make it into Google. The future for these business directories is to provide an easy templated web presence for these 40% of companies – with good search optimisation so that they turn up in Google. Then they are competing against web development companies, rather than Google.

  7. Jordan says:

    There is a much better local search at http://www.zoomin.co.nz. It out performs any of the others and is on par with Google. They have some exciting things in the works to be released in months to come.

    Also http://www.madefromnewzealand.com is a great new site which is all about promoting New Zealand businesses and getting Google love to their sites. There is no cost to be on the site.

    With the power vacuum and switchover of finda, it will be interesting who comes out on top. I have to say, yellow doesn’t look that nimble.

  8. Deepa Palande says:

    NZ businesses need to move away from their over dependence on advertising mediums that cost a fortune. Clearly New Zealand has high broadband penetration (although the speeds are an altogether different story) and it is no wonder that internet is a medium of choice for the average kiwi bloke who cannot be bothered reading a local rag or rummage through the junk to see “that special offer”. This is evolution of – call it metamorphosis – the internet throws open a plethora of options, right from adding that special offer to branding to, getting qualified leads to your website. The finda platform allows local businesses to achieve local visibility cost effectively and at very competitive costs.
    Any business which is looking to achieve results both strategic (long term) or tactical (short term)will find advertising on Finda useful and effective.

  9. Pingback: Nigel Parker's Outside Line : Yellow Maps

  10. Tom Blain says:

    2,852000 Yellow Pages directories published for New Zealand’s metros if each on weighs on average 1.5kgs that’s 4,278000 tonnes of paper !
    Say NO to Yellow – follow us on Twitter!

  11. Kevin Trye says:

    My cynical update on the Yellow vs Google stuff is available here.

    http://www.digitalmarketing.co.nz/hidden-truths/yellow-last-gasp/

    I think it was this old article that inspired me a year back….

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