Digital:Convergence Nabs Verizon Yellow Pages Deal

Handheld scanner maker Digital:Convergence aims to let Yellow Page users “let their scanners do the walking,” through a deal with Verizon’s publishing unit Thursday.

The agreement between Dallas-based Digital:Convergence and local neighbor Verizon Information Services, will put DC bar codes in Verizon Yellow Pages phone books, beginning with more than a million editions in the Dallas region.

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

The system works like this: swiping a bar code in the Yellow Pages with DC’s :CueCat computer peripheral or Cross:Convergence pen-based scanner will load up an associated Web page when the scanner interfaces with a PC. For instance, swiping a bar code next to an ad for a pizza parlor could bring up an online menu and ordering information when the user “docks” their Cross:Convergence pen scanner.

Digital:Convergence already has deals with several magazine publishers to include bar codes (or “cues”) with their articles or ads. But now, the deal stands to expand Digital:Convergence’s solution in an important way — Verizon is the world’s largest directory publisher.

During the next two years, Verizon will launch Digital:Convergence-enhanced directories in other markets, including Philadelphia; Providence; Tampa, Fla.; Orange County South in California; and Long Island, New York.

Digital:Convergence is hoping that the deal means more consumers use their solution to get additional information about Yellow Pages advertisers, before they make a purchase.

And while its first product, the :CueCat PC peripheral, is of questionable use (since few consumers read magazines while sitting at the computer), newer Digital:Convergence offerings like the wireless Cross:Convergence scanner could better help consumers — by allowing them to get Web information on the offline products or services they read about or see advertised.

Accordingly, Digital:Convergence is banking that when small businesses purchase an ad in the Yellow Pages, they will also want to buy a “cue” — upping revenue for its partner Verizon.

“Our print-to-Web technology has become the benchmark in the industry, and this application clearly highlights its potential for expanding into new markets,” said Digital:Convergence chief executive Jovan Philyaw. “Take, for example, a local restaurant owner, who can help new and existing patrons find his Web site to get additional information, as well as promote his weekly or daily specials and online discounts.”

Verizon said the effort will not only boost sales in its Yellow Pages — which it’s going to be rebranding as the “SuperPages,” to match its online version, SuperPages.com — it also helps the publishing giant cater to a need of the small business community.

“Unlike larger corporations, most small businesses have limited resources to market themselves or their Web sites,” said Pat Marshall, group vice president of marketing for Verizon Information Services. “Putting Digital:Convergence technology in our SuperPages creates a bridge from the printed page to the Web for phone book users. It also enables local advertisers to easily promote and drive traffic to their sites by helping consumers find them online.”

“The re-branded SuperPages directories are part of Verizon’s ongoing strategy to link the paper and digital worlds, and provide as many options as possible for connecting buyers and sellers,” Marshall added. “We’re helping small businesses advertisers by offering a cost-effective way to implement an Internet strategy, including bundling the building of a Web site, advertising in SuperPages and SuperPages.com, and now advertising with a ‘cue.'”

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