WhitePages.com Lightens Ad Load, Adds User Features

WhitePages.com is expected Tuesday to unveil a redesign of its site, which will now carry fewer ads and offer advanced contact management functionality. The company hopes increased user loyalty will make it more valuable to advertisers.

The site, which traditionally has offered white and yellow pages lookups, removed eight total ad placements, many of them non-standard units. At the same time, it introduced two new IAB-standard units: a wide skyscraper and a half-page ad.

“It brings more focus to what we have on our site,” said Susie Kang, senior VP of the consumer services group at WhitePages.com. “The response that we had from our users was that the site was cluttered.”

Ads are targeted not by users’ search terms, but by demographics and ZIP codes, information WhitePages.com gathers by surveying site users.

Additionally, the site has added contact management functionality, similar to that offered by Plaxo or GoodContacts, in an effort to keep its users coming back and viewing more pages. A free downloadable program allows users to sync their Outlook contact database with their WhitePages.com account. It also lets them confirm their contacts’ information by sending out a verification email. The tool was developed in partnership with GoodContacts, which sells its product on a subscription basis.

“It’s really this push for us into being a comprehensive source for contact information,” said Kang.

WhitePages.com has also added metro-area search functions, which let users search for a person or business in a city and its surrounding areas. Searchers can also access their last ten searches.

The WhitePages.com site itself reaches 8 million unique monthly visitors, the company said. The company also distributes both its data and its advertising to more than 1,300 partners, including SBC, BellSouth and YellowPages.com.

“We focus most of our time and energy on a lot of branding types of advertising,” said Kang. Clients include American Express, Allstate, JCPenney and Match.com. The company also has endemic advertisers, such as for-fee services that offer deeper databases of information about people.

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