The panel started out talking about the growing interest in selling digital products. There are a number of bottlenecks – sales has a hard time adjusting to selling digital and it’s a challenge to upgrade backend technologies to deliver these new products.
They have spoken a lot about how challenging it is to adapt these legacy systems (technological and human) to the new demands of the SMBs. The most interesting aspect (to me at least) is that the Yellow Pages are used to locking an advertiser in for a one year deal, but now with an increasing demand for pay-per-performance/SEM campaigns, advertisers are looking for shorter term deals. Seems like all signs are pointing to Yellow Pages sales reps will have to spend more time with their clients.
The panelists have been asked about how IYPs can compete against the big search engines. They all seem to think that because IYPs are “hyperlocal” that they have some kind of magic advantage over Google Local or Yahoo Local, which btw are also “hyperlocal”. I think this is pretty wrong. In my humble opinion the only advantages the IYPs will have over Google and its ilk are 1) a better product which I don’t think they have right now, and 2) control of their clients’ budgets, which I think is the place where most IYPs can gain a competitive advantage.