The Truth About Traffic at IYPs


The news in yellow pages land has not been good. Last year saw the bankruptcies of RHD (now Dex One) and Supermedia (formerly Idearc), followed by announcements of layoffs at those companies. Last week brought news of layoffs at Yellowbook. Now comes Greg Sterling‘s Screenwerk blog noting that Comscore is looking at possible traffic assignment irregularities at IYPs. The traffic assignment issue stems from the practice where one site buys traffic from another: local searches get routed from one site to another and results are served up by the buyer. ComScore accepts an assignment letter and traffic gets credited to the buyer. This can raise questions about whether credit has been apportioned correctly or whether double counting has occurred. More broadly, this brings to light the question of IYP popularity. IYPs have boasted that swelling Comscore traffic numbers proved increased site popularity. The fact is that purchased traffic for some IYPs exceeds 50%. So increased Comscore numbers may reflect not more popularity but bigger budgets. Essentially IYPs are buying clicks from 3rd parties and reselling it to advertisers (at higher rates). It’s an arbitrage game. The purchases are necessary because IYP organic traffic is not growing fast enough. For this reason, yellow page players are looking to products outside the IYP — such as SEM, Social Media Management, Reputation Management, and Group Buying Sites — to show much needed revenue growth.

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