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Telstra to unveil search engine

 11:07 am on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Continued from: [webmasterworld.com...]


TELSTRA Corp Ltd is set to unveil plans to revamp its Sensis business with a new, youth-focussed search engine.

Sensis which owns the Yellow and White Pages telephone directory businesses will announce its new Internet search engine at a briefing for analysts and media next Tuesday.



 2:42 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

People won't use it. Telstra is loathed down here by the average man in the street.


 9:28 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hope you're right, if this thing gets takes off expect to pay heaps and get no service to get included in it.
Yellow pages on-line is the worst run company I've ever had to deal with.


 11:05 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Theres a beta version here: [beta.sensis.com.au...]

Pretty bad results from where I'm sitting.


 11:40 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nothing new and certaintly nothing nice. MSN and Google already own any "Youth Oriented" searching in Aus. I can't see how they'll make this work.


 1:07 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've been (reluctantly) using Sensis related sites for some years now. As Brett's post cites, they have the monopoly on some useful sites.

"Slow as a wet weekend" is about the most flattering comment I can make about their sites (and that's often been from a T1 connection).

However, I expect that much of the market they're aiming at will not be aware of their pedigree (why should they or anyone else care for that matter). So if they sell it right and it performs well (without the lock up that occurs as the ads load) they may have a chance.

I can't say that that's such a bad thing though... time will tell.


 2:19 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"People won't use it. Telstra is loathed down here by the average man in the street."

Agree that Telstra is hated by a lot of people.

Yet look at their customer rates because people are too lazy to change.

They have 47% of the mobile (cell) market and Ziggy has bet his job on getting that back up to 50%.

How many subscribers do Big Pond have?

Basically you already have an established base of customers, plus (as pointed out by Brett) great reach and distribution through the various other sites.

So I say, the Australian market has a 4th player. People will use it because it is there.

I for one, will be interested to see some of the deomgraphics that will hopefully come out regarding who is using it. I think that it will be quite niche but that is just a gut feel.


 2:37 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well I stated before that I was looking forward to the launch, not I am not so sure. We have the hype building up in press releases [heraldsun.news.com.au], but really, what counts is the results, and, until there is an official launch, the beta test looks none too impressive. In the words of Jerry Maguire, "Show me the Search Engine!"

I just wonder how much the corporate machine wheels are being oiled in anticipation of a launch. Has anyone had any contact from Sensis/YP/Telstra sales type people pushing paid listings or advertising as yet?

Australia certainly needs more search facilities and outlets, but the results seen so far do not cut the mustard, and, despite a so called "captive audience", I can't see the public sticking with it if it does not perform. I hope for the best, but as yet I'm am not convinced.



 2:42 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

PPC adverising in the yellow pages online would certainly be an interesting proposition.


 4:49 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't trust these people, simple as that.
City Search was a disastrous rip off - Yellow Pages on-line is costing me about $3 a click from my stats - they aren't very pleasant or effective and they charge like a wounded bull. They believe they can solve any problem by advertising their way out of it instead of creating something that actually works.


 5:51 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

The 'location' feature is a great idea


Firstly you're restricted to 5 suburbs (if you go down that far) and the results I got back when searching for a "doctor" in 4 Sydney suburbs (that are close to each other) were a little odd.

Two of the top 5 results had something to do with doctors, the first a broken link to a truckers site, the second a West Australian directory. Number 5 was my favourite though - the links page of a fishing tackle and bait shop in Bateman's Bay (one of my suburbs was "**** Bay", and they have a link to an "Outboard Doctor").

Not quite up to the content based level yet.

Nice idea though.


 1:56 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Looks like the story is really propogating now. It will be interesting to see what new they unveil when they flip the switch.

> won't use Telstra

No one outside Aus has ever heard of them, but when looking for Aus info, a decent search engine is needed.

> doc

Lets leave any specific searches out please as it breeds spam ;-)

Overture Firing Back:

Bohse said her company, which plans to launch its own local content search service before the end of the year, was ready to compete with Sensis "head-to-head" and left clues it may leverage one of Sensis' pre-existing offline competitors.


 2:24 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

a decent search engine is needed

G.au (filtering on 'pages from Australia') seems more reliable at the moment but we shall see.

I hold more hope in the competition mentioned in the article, than in the giant Telstra. They are not very nimble footed so I don't think we'll see much difference between the 'beta' and the real thing for some time to come.

The two 'new' players Y! and MSN could also prove interesting.

If you crank up their engines from the email interface they already filter to Australian based sites (and it just happens - it's not an option) although the new MSN I'm not sure about yet. There still seem to be an awful lot of hotmail users in Oz (based only on my observations and ear on a small patch of ground - anyone have any recent figures?).

It's good to see something happening at least!

Given the much greater uptake in ADSL in recent months we (Aussies) may finally start using the web for product / supplier research a little.


 12:32 am on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

> > won't use Telstra

> one outside Aus has ever heard of them, but when looking for Aus info, a decent search engine is needed.

At a Gartner presentation I went to about 3 years ago, Telstra was only small fry compared to the other world telcos - I seem to remember about 15th in size but that may be wrong.

They have been making moves to expand into other countries with a series of JVs and aquisitions.

I believe that they are trying to deversify their revenue streams, become more profitable so that the remaining share - currently owned by the Australian government - can be sold off in a "T3 Float".

Part of the reason they are expanding into Search. A way to build a new revenue stream and to boost the share price.


 12:50 am on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

<<Part of the reason they are expanding into Search. A way to build a new revenue stream and to boost the share price.>>

Exactly, they aren't too smart and will lose big trying to expand. They may stuff up search for the same reason - they are only interested in the money not the results and the culture of providing good results "and the public will follow you" would escape their understanding altogether.

They will throw millions at the advertising camapign - results? HA you'll only see the sites with deep pockets.


 1:19 am on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, the story is certainly propagating, but still there is nothing new.

The "story" is being picked up by the various media people all over the place, but I am very surprised by the attention being given to a "definite possible maybe."

All we have at the moment is Telstra buying internet properties and talking about launching into the online search market. This despite, as many people realise, having no real experience in online search.

It is also interesting that all the reported commentary we are seeing at the moment is from business analysts who themselves have no direct experience in the search market, let alone actually operating a search engine. Talking about something is one thing, doing it is a completely different situation.

Not only that, but my contacts within Sensis are also out of touch with what's going on. It begs the question, "Where is the new Engine?" All we have at the moment is a beta search that is a good start but leaves an awful lot to be desired. When they do actually launch it will be interesting to see what they have and I sincerely hope it is better than the beta. I hope they recruit some solid search people to advise and build. I hope they do lots of things right, but until they do something we won't know.

All I see at the moment, with deference to all concerned, is a storm in a teacup. I hope I am wrong but I'm not holding my breath.



 11:20 pm on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting! I just found this UA in my logs:

FAST Enterprise Crawler/6 used by Sensis


 1:01 am on Jul 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

They have big plans for this new product.

The results may be crap but it is a PPC model.

The sales force in this company is very, very strong.

Big commissions and a $40,000 dollar trip at the end of the year for the top performers.

The deals turn the wheels in this place ;)


 12:32 am on Jul 10, 2004 (gmt 0)


I think you totally right. Sensis is a Sales Organisation and like an sales organisation, are quite aggresive.

Sensis has the largest database of SMEs in Australia and already has a relationship with them.

SMEs in Australia - prepare for Sensis sales people to be knocking on your door complete with a new sales pitch!


 2:10 am on Jul 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sensis has the largest database of SMEs in Australia and already has a relationship with them.

Warren - I agree with you but I was wondering if you mean via yellow pages or other sources (eg. ISP)?

I was talking to a self-employed PLC electrician the other night, and he religiously puts his yellow pages ad in every year and reckons he gets nothing from it. I think they'll have to offer him the additional features as "added value". Yellow pages is not cheap. (Admittedly he's in a pretty selective market.)

The yellow pages listings do come up in the beta search (depending on how you specify the location). Maybe they will plug it simply this way.

(In mucking around finding out the above, I reckon it's actually quite handy because it does nicely join web and YP results so long as the location is quite precise.)


 11:44 am on Jul 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sensis have that database because of their Yellowpages product.

Not only that, they know which business have web pages because:
1) They are listed on YellowPages online
2) They are in their printed Yellow Pages ad
3) From City Search
4) From a crawler (potentially).

So now they have the database to mine and the hungry sales people out there to turn it into sales.


 2:30 pm on Jul 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Lets face it - Telstra Sensis made nearly $1.4 billion last year because they are a monopoly.

Pure and simple.

Thats how they can afford to spend $600plus million buying the Trading Post classifieds; anothe bag of gold buying KAZ; and managing to lose squillions on Asian Cyberworks deals - and now they are supposedly spending $9M advertising the fact that they are 'gunna' have a search engine.

Sure - its been 'half privatised' - but the yellow pages in Australia is still a monopoly.


 9:32 pm on Jul 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Off the top of your head - is the addition of a web site link free with the standard yellow pages listing?


 11:06 pm on Jul 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sure - its been 'half privatised' - but the yellow pages in Australia is still a monopoly.

Spot on.
Thats why they can provide zero service and charge what they like.
I have a national listing in the YP Online and I'm waiting to see how the Sensis SE effects things and if I'm included there as part of the deal but I'm very close to cancelling it.
If they expect me to pay approx $3 a click on YP plus Sensis they can get stuffed.
I will put the lot into Google and Overture and hope Telstra/Sensis crash.

The company is a nightmare to deal with, it makes one feel very uncomfortable and I would rather not use them if possible.


 1:24 am on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

The Sensis search engine has gone live. It is now accessible from www.sensis.com.au

If you try to go to the old beta site you get redirected to the new location.


 1:54 am on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

The results are not good, oh well it's their money.


 1:54 am on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

What is their bot called please (or are you going to make me trawl through my logs :()?

I submitted a newish site with brand new pages last week and it's doing very well. (The only other bot that has found the new pages is G so I am assuming they have their own bot.)


 2:09 am on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I did have a look through and nothing stands out as being a sensis specific bot....
I had a closer look at the referrers this month (just using LiveWebStats or whatever it's called) and I can only find ask and G. Ask has not picked up the new pages yet (as far as I can tell) so I can only assume that the results are from G using their own (or some other non G) algorithm.


 4:40 am on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

bpresent, their ua is

FAST Enterprise Crawler/6 used by Sensis


 5:28 am on Jul 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

While we're looking at how good search results are have another look at AV [altavista.com...]
I think they've got it pretty well covered these days.
Results are clean and relevant - take note Sensis.

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