Yahoo Local and Online Yellow Pages

Yahoo announced Local Featured Listings today, a way for local businesses to advertise on Yahoo Local search results. This is not pay per click advertising, but rather first come, first serve service that allows local businesses to advertise on Yahoo Local for a flat monthly fee. This is the same pricing model used by offline yellow pages – small businesses are very comfortable paying a set monthly fee.

Local businesses that would like to have a permanent place in local search results can use Yahoo Local’s automated system for placing ads. There are just six total slots on each results page (three at top, three at bottom).

I’m confused as to the exact pricing. The blog announcement (linked to above) states that ads can be purchased for “a flat, monthly rate starting at $29.95/month, depending on the business category and location”, whereas the linked rate card states that pricing ranges from $15-$300 per month based on ad location, business category and geography. Either way, this compares very favorably to offline yellow page advertising options, and will be attractive to advertisers.

I thought there was a window of opportunity for a startup or open source project to enter this space before the big guys came in to dominate (see no 7 here). And while I still think there is an opportunity here (particularly for an open source project) for a true online yellow page business directory, that window may be closing fast with today’s announcement. For more on the offline yellow page angle, see John Battelle’s post earlier today.