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The Cost of getting SMEs involved

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10:19 pm on Jan 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi Everyone,
We're seeing a huge technological effort by companies in getting to the holy grail of local search but I'm wondering what will ultimately be the cost of getting small and medium sized businesses to submit their own content. As everyone probably knows, Yahoo Local recently added the option to edit business listings to business owners. The two flavors are basic for free and enhanced for $10/month. This, they hope, will provide an effective transition from their old yellow page advertisements to a new consumer-friendly model. I'm wondering if anyone here knows how much Yahoo and others are investing in this type of self-serve content aquisition? It seems that it must be a very expensive thing to review every modified listing that comes in for possible errors and pranks. What about verification? How will they know if these are in fact the business owners writing in with changes?
In the long run, is it just the companies with deep pockets that will own the prescious local content or is there room for cost-effective innovation? Any thoughts are welcome
6:49 pm on Jan 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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AlanS, these are important questions you raise. Thank you. I will try to get to them soon, but I hope that others can chime in too with their ideas on the topics you raise.
9:05 pm on Jan 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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How will they know if these are in fact the business owners writing in with changes?

Great question.

There needs to be some level of human review before changes are accepted, IMHO.

Money could also be a barrier/defense. People may not think twice about vandalizing a free listing, but if it costs something to change a listing, they won't be so eager to do it. Keeping the cost reasonable to SMEs is important.

Additionally, if you make someone agree to a TOS that says "I'm authorized to act on behalf of this business", then take their credit card number down, if they aren't authorized to act on behalf of that business there's a legal case for fraud.

is there room for cost-effective innovation?

Oh yes, there certainly is. If you think about it, the majors might even be at a disadvantage compared to a new player. They have a negative stigma already attached to them - "it's hard to find local stuff on Google/Yahoo/whatever". The articles coming out about LS are very telling.

Also, the majors have to redesign their systems to accomodate local data, whereas a new player may be able to tailor their systems for the local niche from the ground up.

11:00 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It isn't just the cost of accquisition of the info that matters, the quality of the info may be at least as important.

It's always a bit stunning to realize that more than a few successful business people can't understand how to fill out a form effectively.

That means the info needs to be verified, or reviewed, in some manner before it goes live to assure the maximum accuracy and benefit to all concerned.

(It might be worth noting here that the lowest initial cost isn't always the most effective in the long term.)

 

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