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Yext Takes Google Tags Idea Across Web

Local advertising provider Yext has spearheaded the launch of a Google-like “tags” product that receives distribution across a vast array of local sites including Yelp, Yahoo, Mapquest, Superpages, Topix, Patch, Citysearch and others. It’s being characterized as an “anti-Google alliance.” That’s not exactly correct. As a practical matter it gives advertisers a way to run promotions across what is in effect a new local ad network, which in the aggregate constitutes a massive number of search queries and impressions.

The program is the brainchild of Howard Lerman, Yext’s CEO. In the wake of Google Tags, Lerman conceived of the notion of taking Tags across the web with a single buy. Lerman has many ideas about overcoming the fragmentation of local and this is one response; it’s less about creating an “anti-Google” network. In fact Lerman told me in an email last night that he would love to have Google participate in “Yext Tags” distribution. He just believes that the company is unlikely to do so.

Yext Tags are probably going to become an important new ad product for local marketers and national advertisers with local stores or outlets. Here are the basic details:

  • The program costs $99 per month, with a 7-day free trial (Google offers a month free)
  • Tags will be sold by Yext directly but partners will be able to resell the product — so you’ll be able to buy it from Yelp or Superpages or Yellowbook or Citysearch later
  • As with Google Tags, the “ads” appear in natural search results on the network sites rather than in traditional sponsored ad units
  • It will take up to 48 hours to “go live” initially, depending on the site
  • Yext Tags updates roll out simultaneously across the network (permitting A/B testing of a sort)

Here’s a mock-up of how Yext Tags may appear:

One could argue that Yext Tags is as much a response to Groupon’s success as it is a reaction to Google. While Yext Tags can contain any promotional message most likely they will be used for offers and deals. (There’s also an offline tracking component if offers are redeemed at the point of sale locally.)

As mentioned in the bullets above the program allows advertisers a single point of entry and distribution across a vast local network that represents easily over 100 million uniques monthly. More importantly it overcomes the fragmentation of local sites not unlike European nations coming together in the EU with a single currency. As mentioned, when changes are made or new offers introduced, updating happens simultaneously across all the participating sites. So the reach and the near-real time aspect of this are very powerful.

Not exactly the “poor man’s SEM,” Yext Tags will be a way for unsophisticated advertisers to do a form of search marketing without getting involved in any bidding or keyword picking. In addition to its Tags product Google recently introduced Boost to simplify paid search for small businesses.

Many national advertisers with local stores or outlets will undoubtedly utilize Yext Tags. According to an email exchange I had with Mapquest’s Christian Dwyer, Yext Tags allow national advertisers to “configure the offering specific to each of its locations or a region.”

Another benefit of Yext Tags, which is not obvious, is data uniformity and SEO. Signing up for Tags will also ensure correct business listings information is distributed throughout the network. Yext CEO Lerman told me in email:

The first thing that happens is that we automatically scan each of these sites for your listing and ask you (the merchant) to confirm it . . . If your business is not listed on the site, Yext Tags will automatically add you. As your Tags go live, you will be notified by e-mail with a screenshot of your Tag and a link to your live page.  Once your Tag is live for the first time, you can update it directly from the Yext Tags app in our dashboard, and, on most sites, the update will appear instantly.

This functionality is built upon Yext’s free “Yext Rep” product, which identifies where local business listings appear and whether they’re correct. Yext also sells phone calls but the Yext Tags product is completely independent of that offering.

Yext on its site references Google (case studies) that assert a 2X or greater lift in response from the use of Tags.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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