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Business Opportunities Through Online Web Directories

Aug 17, 2007
Internet directories, once lucrative ground for local entrepreneurs, are becoming increasingly attractive fodder for big name telecommunication players.

Companies such as Pacific Bell and AT&T are viewing business and community directories on the World Wide Web not only as a way to lure customers, but as a means to generate advertising dollars.

Meanwhile, the home-grown directories, originally a money-making venture, have transformed into free online listings. The entrepreneurs who developed the directories hope that the free listings will attract Web-site development and other online-related business.

But the free offering has had its financial dividends for Alberts. The directory, which contains listings for about 400 businesses, has helped-feed Albert's other business, Network-Data Communications Inc., which builds Web pages.

There's no money to be made directly a local Online community directory, agreed George Hall. His internet service business, SNA, runs the year-old Sacramento Home Page in conjunction with Sacramento Cable's public access channels, 17 and 18.

A lot of people have tried to do these. The question of sustainability is the issue. Online directories need dedicated support and that costs money.

Despite the big players' entry into local directories, their presence is not a threat. Alberts has hooked up his directory with Citilink, a series of city directories across the country. And Alberts can envision his directory further linking into Pacific Bell's new regional online Web directory, dubbed At Hand.

Other regional and national directory providers include Yahoo! Los Angeles, Yahoo! San Francisco and America Online's Digital Cities. And Microsoft Corp. is buying city Web directories around the country; it's expected to offer local online directories as part of its Web browsing product.

Although local online directories haven't been successful at generating advertising dollars, large telecommunications or software companies that sponsor a wide range of regional directories seem to have a better shot at selling Web-page space.

The Yellow Pages serve an immediate need for goods and services, while At Hand is "more research oriented," allowing would-be buyers to click to information sources about a product or service before making a purchase.

At Hand does not yet have the software to enable consumers to purchase goods online. But McMorris said that feature will be added by year-end or early next year. That service is touted to work well for companies with mail-order catalogs.

Pacific Bell "is very interested" in reviewing online community directories assembled in various California areas as possible add-ons to At Hand.

In fact, "Advertising Age" magazine reported that Web advertising nationally totaled $ 66.7 million in the first half of this year. Almost two-thirds of that total--$ 43.1 million--came in the second quarter.

Internet-related technology companies like Microsoft were the biggest advertisers--but they have a vested interest in the success of the Internet. Just 14 percent of the second-quarter spending came from companies touting consumer goods.

Automobiles, travel and financial services, figured as naturals for Web advertising, accounted for slightly more than 10 percent of ad spending for the quarter. That compared to $ 200 million in second-quarter ad spending for network radio, $ 1.2 billion for cable TV networks, $ 2.8 billion for consumer magazines, and $ 3.5 billion for network TV.
About the Author
Joe appreciates the value of search engine and directory assistance in getting sites listed and ranked. Here are a couple of his most influential web directories: Web Directory Free and Free Web Directories .
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