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Online Directory "Networks": Advertising Aggregation and Distribtution

A model in search of a formula to make it work?

1:41 pm on Oct 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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If you play in this space you have seen this model, again and again: "No! Not just one! Not just two! But a bazillion directories in our network!"

Some early versions that I saw used domain name iterations, as if that alone would make a difference.

I think the model has some validity, some legs, but that some models are better than others.

One approach that makes some sense is the aggregation model, where you buy an advertising placement in all directories in the network from an aggregator. For those attending PubCon it appears that one such "directory network" operator will be hosting a booth in LasVegas.

The "rub" of the directory network approach is this: Not getting traffic from 200 directories - or at least traffic that works/converts - is no different than getting traffic from 1 directory.

Also, if you run the same link-ad in multiple directories might that qualify as link spamming?

So, what's to be done with the model to make it better?

First off: Duplicate run of network ads likely is not the best approach.

Second: A network comprised of another generic ODP clone and another generic ODP clone and another . . . well, marginal, at best. Better to have focused directories.

Third: Need the directory "in the network" solely function as a directory? What about adding directories to the network that are actualy directories embedded in portals?

Fourth: What about a 2 tier approach to directory network advertising? Premium and run of networ? Obvious but "is it out there" yet?

It's an interesting model and, in time, link brokering for distribution across various networks will likely prove its mettle. Right now, the model is in it infancy and likely needs a bit of schooling.

[edited by: Webwork at 2:01 pm (utc) on Oct. 18, 2006]

6:58 pm on Oct 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I find this an interesting topic as we are preparing to launch a new system that is comprised of many very tightly focused directories. Vertical directories if you will. We anticipate having over 100 such directories by the end of the year. What we will be doing is hand selecting sites for free listing in the "White Page" listings and then selling Basic and Premium listings. What we will be doing is selling by a base listing price and then charging for each Heading that the business wants to be listed under. The heading selections can be anywhere in the system. The only difference between Basic and Premium is the number of free headings included with the listing and the Premium Listings will include a business profile page that is optimized for search engines. While we have discussed the different pay to play options we want to keep the system simple to use and low cost so any business can benefit by using the system.

We will be focusing on both industry directories and also local directories for various things like Attractions, Restaurants or different communities.

We are still discussing adding content but at this time we are focusing on a simple system to locate businesses in a specific niche. The niches will cover anything from Home Improvement to Food Packaging Machinery to Cooking. There is no particular logic to the niches we service except that we feel there is a need and we are able to compile a database of businesses in the niche to market to. Currently we have over 50,000 businesses in our database that we are marketing to for the 100 or so niches we will be starting with. The nice feature is that we handle all of the listings through a central system which makes adding a business anywhere in the system simple and also gives businesses numerous options in one place to list their company. We are not overly concerned with the number of paid listings in a given directory as they are easy to run, but we are working to make sure we have an in depth list of the businesses in the industry at least in the free listings. Our though is we need to start with a complete directory and market the enhanced listings from there.

In short, we feel that there is a need for simple directories focused on very specific niches as trying to be found on the major search engines is becoming impossible for many companies and trying to find a business that fits their needs is also becoming impossible for many SE users. I can do a search and come up with 50-75% junk and spam on most any search. We are not concerened with page rank and links and such as for the average business they are meaningless. Instead we are interested in a simple way to locate a business to business with.

We will be marketing our niche directories through paid advertising and also direct mail in certain instances.

Any thoughts would be welcome