AOL Signs $31 Million Yellow Pages Deal

America Online Inc. signed a $31 million deal making Bell Atlantic’s and GTE Directories new online Yellow Pages database as the Yellow Pages service for AOL, AOL.com and AOL’s Digital City.

The companies said the three-way alliance will give consumers “the most complete shopping information available on the Internet” and will deliver “unprecedented exposure” for advertisers on AOL, GTE’s SuperPages service and Bell Atlantic’s BigYellow.

Under the terms of the three-year agreement, which guarantees payments to AOL of $31 million in a combination of advertising sales and distribution revenue, GTE’s SuperPages and Bell Atlantic’s BigYellow will become the providers of a comprehensive, co-branded Yellow Pages listings and search service to AOL’s 12 million U.S. members, as well as to the millions of visitors to AOL.com and AOL’s Digital City.

The three-way AOL, GTE and Bell Atlantic agreement is based upon a separate agreement between Bell Atlantic and GTE, creating an online Yellow Pages platform combining the content, advertising and services of their BigYellow and SuperPages directories. As part of this agreement, GTE’s SuperPages and Bell Atlantic’s BigYellow will share a common listings and advertising database.

In addition, GTE will supply the back-end infrastructure to power the common platform. At launch, the common database will contain listings for 11 million U.S. businesses, and product and service information for thousands of advertisers.

The companies said the deal retains the separate Internet identities and addresses of GTE’s SuperPages and BigBook, Bell Atlantic’s BigYellow, AOL Yellow Pages and all future partners.

“AOL members value having easy access to trusted brands, and in the Yellow Pages category, GTE’s SuperPages and Bell Atlantic’s BigYellow are two of the biggest names available,” said Barry Schuler, president of AOL Interactive Services at America Online. “Recent research also shows that one of the top reasons people go online is to get product information, which is why we believe offering a fast, accurate, reliable Yellow Pages feature will be a valuable resource in our members’ everyday lives.”

The alliance follows AOL’s previously announced White Pages agreement with InfoSpace.

Yellow Pages ads purchased individually through GTE’s SuperPages and BigBook, Bell Atlantic’s BigYellow and AOL’s Yellow Pages will now appear on all of these services.

Each company will independently sell advertising into the common database. In addition, AOL said the increased local advertising expected to be generated by the expanded reach of the new national sales network will result in richer, more complete local product and service guides on AOL’s Digital City.

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