Posted by Tom Foremski - January 17, 2008
I just had lunch with Peter Adams, president of MatchPoint.com, which is one of many online businesses hoping to break into multi-billion dollar local business markets, territory that has long been dominated by Yellow Pages.
Later this month, MatchPoint will unveil details of its services for local businesses. Although I can't talk about the details of its new service I can talk about its strategy and its bid to provide a better match for consumers and local companies.
Peter Adams is a veteran of LookSmart, the Australian search company. It's good experience for his role at MatchPoint, which is to find a way to connect consumers with products and services, and have local companies compete and bid for that business.
As it seeks local consumers for its services, MatchPoint is offering local online publishers a revenue sharing deal, which potentially would generate more money than partnering with Google's AdSense network.
Key to its strategy is convincing users to part with some information. "Consumers fill out a very short questionnaire about what they want and we pass that onto businesses in their zip code. Those businesses then bid on those leads and they get a phone number, created on the fly, that they can call prospective customers. With local businesses, nearly 100 per cent of their business is done through the phone, not online," said Mr Adams.
On the Matchpoint site there are service categories such as student loans, Lasik eye surgery, interior decorators, career counseling, printing services, and removing a tattoo. "Users trust us to keep their information private, any communications between them and the service provider goes through us."
At the end of this month MatchPoint is launching a national campaign to roll out its services to millions of local businesses using technology from GetVendors.com, which it acquired last year.
Internet users hate filling out anything online and have come to expect search engines to guess what they want. Priming the pump with sufficient numbers of users filling out questionnaires will be a challenge for MatchPoint but it is not an insurmountable challenge if users start quickly seeing results.
The questionnaires are very short, three or so questions, and once filled out it should result in better conversions for advertisers and a better experience for consumers. Matchpoint will need to do some follow up to be able to refine its questions for each category and check with consumers about their level of satisfaction.
If MatchPoint is successful with its approach, it would be a welcome boon to many media and other online publishers that currently eek out a miserly living running Google AdSense ads. MatchPoint is offering a partnership to publishers in which they host a MatchPoint widget and share in the commission it earns from businesses. With the potential for a much improved conversion rate than through Google AdSense, revenues for publishing partners would be higher, plus they would be providing a valuable service to their readers and their local business community.
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