Flat-Fee Ads Come to Yahoo! Local

In a bid to woo new small businesses as advertisers on its Local product, Yahoo has created flat-fee “Featured Listings” that are simpler to manage than auction-based keyword-targeted ads.

Featured Listings, which are guaranteed to appear on local search results pages, are offered at five different price points ranging from $20 to $300/month. Ads in higher-demand categories and more-populated areas command a larger amount.

Advertisers will also pay more for appearing above organic results, rather than below. Only 12 listings are available per-category for each region, with three appearing above the organic results and three below. The company says it will dole out the placements on a first-come, first-serve basis. It’s not immediately clear whether sponsored search listings will also appear on the same results pages or how they will be prioritized. Yahoo representatives didn’t respond to inquiries by press time.

Each Featured Listing contains a business’ tagline, customizable links to coupons or special offers, and a designated business details page. Yahoo will also throw in a free five-page Web site to Featured Listings advertisers. That service is in beta. Though the ads aren’t priced on a per-click basis, advertisers will receive reports on pageviews and clicks.

Getting local advertisers to commit to online advertising has been a perennial challenge for media firms building businesses based upon local content. Though the auction-based pay-for-performance paid search model has proven extremely successful for players like Google and Yahoo, conventional wisdom holds a simpler flat-fee pricing model is more attractive to some advertisers, especially mom-and-pop shops who don’t have the time to monitor an auction marketplace. Yahoo has been considering the model for some time. A number of Yellow Pages players let their advertisers buy paid search ads on a flat-fee basis.

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