So Facebook and Twitter are getting all of the attention for providing APIs that let developers recreate their services on their own sites. This strategy has in part led to Twitter’s growth explosion. So giving away your data seems to work – and neither of these sites has a killer revenue model.
So why wouldn’t the big Yellow Pages co’s start giving away their data to smart developers who think they can build a better mousetrap – or perhaps a better way to find a pediatrician? If this were the case I think 90% of the people I know in the local search/SEO world would spend the next 30 days launching vertical search sites.
I get why the data providers such as Localeze, InfoUSA, IBegin & Acxiom might not be interested in this – they sell their data to publishers, but for any company that has their own proprietary database and their own advertiser base, why wouldn’t this work? All they have to do is insist that their ads ride along with the content. Most of the big YP publishers already syndicate out their ads. This typically requires contracts and negotiations and guarantees and lawyers. Seems to me unleashing this stuff to the world (perhaps with some screening for quality) might be a bit easier.
By syndicating out their advertisers publishers are already admitting that you can’t survive on the destination site strategy alone. So why not let others spend the time, money and energy innovating on top of your data to get you the traffic you wouldn’t normally get yourself?
Sooner or later the people sitting on top of all of this listing data are going to come to the conclusion that the data is worth more by giving it away then by keeping it to themselves. When that happens get ready for an onslaught of really cool local search services.