It’s Hard to Sell Ads to Plumbers

For some odd reason I find the Yellow Pages interesting, always have. There's something about them that just reeks of…opportunity. Apparently Google agrees. They inked a deal with BellSouth's Yellow Pages unit, a deal which let's BellSouth resell AdWords. In other words, this is a new strategy for Google -…

plumberFor some odd reason I find the Yellow Pages interesting, always have. There’s something about them that just reeks of…opportunity. Apparently Google agrees. They inked a deal with BellSouth’s Yellow Pages unit, a deal which let’s BellSouth resell AdWords. In other words, this is a new strategy for Google – BellSouth is the first ever company to have rights to resell Google’s AdWords. If it works, it may have far reaching implications.

So why did they do it? Local, local, local. It’s very hard to sell AdWords to plumbers. The Yellow Pages have reps who already sell ads to them. It’s all about the trenches in the Local market.

I’ve covered the YP before, here and here and here.

Release in extended entry. Also, see SEW coverage.

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BellSouth’s Alliance with Google Connects Advertisers to Local

RealSearch Customers Can Take Advantage of Google AdWords

ATLANTA & MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – October 28, 2004 – RealPages.comR from
BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) the Southeast’s leading online yellow pages and
Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), developer of the award-winning GoogleR search
engine, today announced an agreement whereby will become the
first yellow pages publisher authorized to sell advertising through Google
AdWordsR to small and medium-sized local businesses.

Under the multi-year agreement, BellSouth will include Google AdWords as an
integral part of its RealSearch offering, a patent-pending search engine
marketing service designed for small and medium-sized local businesses. By
aligning with the BellSouth salesforce, Google can now reach more small and
medium-sized local businesses in the Southeast with Google AdWords. With
AdWords, Google’s performance-based search advertising program, advertisers
present marketing messages to potential customers at the precise moment they
are looking for information related to the products and services the
advertiser offers. Google AdWords enables select RealSearch customers to
generate leads across the Google Network, which reaches more than 80 percent
of U.S. Internet users through sites such as, AOL, BellSouth.Net,
and Earthlink among others (source: MediaMetrix, September 2004).

“Helping our advertisers grow their businesses is at the core of The Real
Yellow Pages and’s success,” said Elmer Smith, president of
BellSouth Advertising & Publishing. “We believe this partnership will allow
RealSearch customers to take advantage of the extensive reach of the Google
Network, which will aid them in attracting more and more customers.”

“Our relationship with BellSouth enables Google to leverage an established,
market-leading salesforce to reach small and medium-sized local businesses
across the Southeast,” said Sukhinder Singh, general manager of Google Local
and Third Party Sales. “Google is excited to add a new way to reach
prospective advertisers, while continuing to provide users with relevant
local information and advertisements.”

Google currently provides advertisers with the ability to reach customers in
local markets through a variety of AdWords targeting options including
regional and city level, as well as through an address-based radius feature
or by specifying latitude and longitude points.

With RealSearch Engine Solutions from BellSouth, advertisers reach potential
customers when consumers are actively looking for information about products
and services online. BellSouth offers a full-service solution that sends a
guaranteed number of targeted visitors from search engines directly to a
customer’s website.

Smith said by managing the local search solution for advertisers, BellSouth
is saving its customers time and money and allowing them to benefit from
search engine marketing while maintaining focus on their day-to-day business
“The phenomenal growth of local search, combined with BellSouth’s
one-of-a-kind RealSearch product incorporating Google’s AdWords, positions
BellSouth as a primary partner for our online advertisers,” Smith said.

According to The Kelsey Group, provider of strategic research, analysis,
data and competitive metrics on yellow pages, electronic directories and
local media, the local paid search advertising market generated $45 million
in 2003 and is expected to reach as high as $2.5 billion by 2008 in
advertising revenue.

Businesses interested in more information on RealSearch Engine Solutions
from BellSouth can visit

The agreement is the expansion of an alliance that was announced earlier
this year. In April, the two companies announced an agreement whereby
Google’s search results and targeted advertisements were made available
through BellSouth’s Internet services home page for
Internet customers.

About BellSouth Advertising and Publishing BellSouth Advertising &
Publishing Corporation (BAPCO) is the leading provider of print and Internet
Yellow Pages products in the southeast. BAPCO and LM Berry Company, a wholly
owned subsidiary of BellSouth, publishes 63 million copies of the print
Yellow Pages in more than 500 editions in the nine-state BellSouth region.
Users referred to The Real Yellow PagesR from BellSouth nearly 2 billion
times last year and made nearly 160 million searches on RealPages.comR
( The Real Yellow Pages is a powerful information
resource, linking buyers and sellers, with approximately 85 percent of
consumers who reference the directories’ most frequently used headings
making a purchase based on their findings.

About BellSouth Corporation
BellSouth Corporation is a Fortune 100 communications services company
headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. BellSouth serves nearly 50 million local,
long distance, Internet and wireless customers in the United States and 12
other countries.

Consistently recognized for customer satisfaction, BellSouth provides
complete communications solutions to the residential and business markets.
In the residential market, BellSouth offers DSL high-speed Internet access
and long distance, advanced voice features and other services. The company’s
BellSouth Answers package combines local and long distance service with an
array of calling features; wireless data, voice and e-mail services; and
high-speed DSL or dial-up Internet service and Cingular Wireless. In the
business market, BellSouth serves small, medium and large businesses
providing secure, reliable local and long distance voice and data networking
solutions. BellSouth also provides online and directory advertising services
through RealPages.comR and The Real Yellow Pages from BellSouthR. BellSouth
owns 40 percent of Cingular Wireless, the nation’s second largest wireless
company, which provides innovative wireless voice and data services.

About Google Inc.
Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around
the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D.
students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in
all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program, which is
the largest and fastest growing in the industry, provides businesses of all
sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience
for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout
North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit

# # #

Google and AdWords are registered trademarks of Google Inc. All other
company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with
which they are associated.

2 thoughts on “It’s Hard to Sell Ads to Plumbers”

  1. ServiceMagic (an IACI company) is doing a great job signing up thousands of local merchants (mostly home-related service providers) to their platform. I’ve been using them for things like sprinkler installation, drywall repair, dry rot repair, and when I talk with the advertisers ServiceMagic hooks me up with, they routinely say they’re getting 30-90% of their business from ServiceMagic, and FAR less from the yellow pages than they used to.

    There’s a stampede going on right now on the part of the YP’s to be selling PPC, and no shortage of startups trying to be intermediaries between GOOG/YHOO and the local merchants.

    Interesting times, but GOOG/YHOO will come out on top, as they own the traffic.

  2. With the ink still drying on its wacky deal to sell online advertising for Google, BellSouth has topped itself by announcing an Internet yellow pages joint venture with SBC Communications. And if that isn’t enough, the new joint venture has announced that it is finalizing a deal to acquire Internet start-up The dust hasn’t settled sufficiently to know if the new joint venture will also be selling online advertising for Google, but hey, why not?

    What’s going on here? Great question. Having had limited success selling to their own home markets, these two regional giants will combine forces so that they can enjoy limited success selling online advertising in their combined home markets. The press release announcing the joint venture proudly notes that it will have “50 million monthly consumer searches, giving advertisers increased traffic.” Actually, the new joint venture’s Web site will certainly get increased traffic, but the local auto body shop in Macon, Georgia isn’t likely to, and therein lies the rub: yellow pages owes all it success to advertising from local businesses serving local markets.

    The big yellow pages publishers have always been long on cash and ambition and short on creativity. That’s why it’s not all that surprising that when they want some fresh new ideas, they pull out their checkbooks and buy some. In this case, the fresh ideas are being supplied by, a seven-year old Internet start-up, which is being acquired for possibly as much as $150 million, according to some press reports. Do the math: even yellow pages publishers wouldn

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