Rise of online directories, The

rise of online directories, The

Baker, Glenn

Looking to expand the reach of your business online without committing to an expensive website? finda.co.nz could be all the assistance you need.

Google the word ‘electricians’ and you’ll notice that the top two listings on the coveted first page belong to Yellow Pages and a relative newcomer, Finda.

New Zealand’s two biggest local online directories not only represent the most comprehensive of business databases (Finda has around 220,000 listings) – they are also where many smaller businesses find it easier (and far less expensive) to have a ‘toe in water’ online presence, in lieu of a standalone web-page. New Zealand’s online marketplace is intensely competitive, and with the sale of Yellow Pages earlier this year to a Canadian buyer, is expected to hot up considerably more.

New contender apnfinda (a joint venture of APN Online and finda.co.nz earlier this year) has already stolen the march with three website products: online search engine finda.co.nz; the award-winning wlses.co.nz map site; and business-to-business directory UBD.co.nz. Collectively they represent almost a quarter of a million listings and service more than 500,000 unique visitors each month.

apnfinda CEO Dwayne Alexander and chief of products Shane Bradley expect Finda to ultimately become the default search engine in people’s minds, in much the same way as business listings have been traditionally dominated by Yellow Pages. Their Utopia includes the name ‘Finda’ becoming, for Kiwis, as ubiquitous as ‘Google’.

“Having your company on Finda gives you far more control over your listing, because you’re no longer having to rely only on the ‘natural search’of major search engines such as Google,” says Alexander.

Unlike the traditional model of an online directory the key difference with apnfinda’s online product lies in its wide functionality and ‘real-time’ relevance.

“Businesses need consumers to have a channel for finding fast, relevant results online and this is what our products provide,” says Bradley. “Also, businesses can refine their own details as they evolve, with all of apnfinda’s data being drawn from one database, businesses can edit their listing in a single area at any time, with all visitor and click-through statistics tracked and recorded for businesses to view.’

(It’s estimated that some 850 businesses update their listings free of charge every day.)

Bradley says the single database means more profile options for businesses and ‘combo’ deals for advertisers.

“For example, a visitor finding directions to your restaurant on wises.co.nz can pull up a review of the restaurant from finda.co.nz, and then overlay the route with service stations if they need gas on the way.” Businesses wanting to maximise their presence on the Finda directory can opt for Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum or ‘Market Leader1 ranking packages – so investments range from zero for a basic listing, up to five figures for a Market Leader. NZLoan.co.nz took out the latter package in January and experienced 210 percent growth in one month – considerably outgrowing their main competitors in the UBD. Alexander Is predicting that In just 12 months Finda will become a top IO site, attracting more than one million users per month – driven to a large extent by search engine optimisation and broadband uptake. And while they expect the new owners of Yellow Pages to launch a new directory soon, they believe Finda’s unique Kiwi-developed program is a winner for businesses, users and advertisers. NZB

To learn more about the business of online marketing and search directories visit Dwayne Alexander’s blogslte at www.onllnepotofgold. typepad.com

Copyright Adrenalin Publishing Ltd. Jul 2007

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