Monday, November 3, 2008

Sensis finally caves to Google

I read today that Sensis has finally decided to play nice with Google as opposed to trying to compete against them and losing badly.

It's not a bad move - back in February I touched on Sensis's problems -

When I wrote this I copped a bit of heat from some Telstra/Sensis people, which was never really clarified. It was implied what I was saying made no sense, however in hindsight I think it actually did make perfect sense ...

I raised 5 key areas they needed to sort out in 08 - my comments as of today are in bold

1. Do they maintain a search engine that cannot compete against Google let alone a MSHOO joint play ... or do they walk away from SEM or look to offer Yahoo or MSN a search distro deal across their network and rev. share?

They have walked and handed it to Google in what is no doubt a revshare similar to the above scenario.

2. How can they adapt Yellow to become more appealing to users? How do they adapt the way advertisers pay to be in Yellow given Google has changed the way many SMEs want to pay for leads

The Google alliance will probably help but doesn't solve the issue that Yellow isn't relevant in 2008

3. Can Whereis hold itself against Google Maps. What can it do better than its competitors - it's not enough to simply match them.

I think this product will be put to sleep in 09 given what has happened today. Yellow will now use Google Maps.

4. What does Sensis actually mean to consumers? Do you retire the brand or simply push it to the background?

Pushed to the background would be my bet now they have backed away from search and conceded to Goog. The media assets are under the Telstra Media stable so it appears they are moving towards the more trusted parent brand.

5. Do they walk away from search and maps and focus on mobile - an they have a pretty sophisticated offering to give the market now the walled garden approach has been abandoned.

They have walked from search and they will walk from maps. They are still making good headway with mobile and have a pretty solid first mover advantage still. However, they need wider distribution that they presently have, so this is the key challenge in this space.

"Bruce Akhurst, chief executive of Sensis, said: "This agreement combines Sensis' strong capabilities in advertising sales and local business content and Google's strong capabilities in online search and mapping technology."

If this isn't conceding defeat I'm not sure what is ...

There's no shame to losing to Google in these 2 specific areas. What Sensis/Telstra has done is a smart obvious move that makes more sense given the climate right now.


Anonymous said...

I'd be surprised if WhereIs is replaced by GOOG Maps anytime soon - isn't WhereIs used too many places to be killed off? Compare with the comparative lack of ego that it took to swap a dog of a search product out for the _core_ Google offering.

Leigh said...

Hi Ben,

You may be forgetting Sensis' WhereIs revenue stream for GPS devices in Australia. Virtually every major brand of GPS device is sold with WhereIs maps built in nowadays - and boy do they love to harass subscribers for annual renewals. The brand may be realigned, but I don't see Sensis abandoning the business (even though they have an inferior web product).

There's no doubt some value in them keeping the technology to continue publishing the UBD directories they now own.

They run a crappy maps website, but I believe Sensis when they say they'll continue with their mapping efforts - even though it doesn't make sense at face value.

Love the blog, by the way - have read it for ages, just felt like commenting this time around :)