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Advertiser-Sponsored Directory Assistance

Annual U.S. revenues for advertiser-sponsored directory assistance -- also referred to as free DA -- will grow from $14 million in 2007 to $462 million in 2012, according to the latest market study by The Kelsey Group.

Free DA enables a consumer to dial a toll-free number for directory assistance and other local information at no charge, in exchange for listening to a brief advert or sponsor message.

"We anticipate ad-sponsored directory assistance will morph into an audio advertising business and a wireless play," said Matt Booth, senior vice president and program director, Interactive Local Media, The Kelsey Group. "The combination of audio ads and wireless pay-per-call and text ads will drive superior per-call economics over time."

A panel of executives from the free DA industry will discuss its role in the future of the Yellow Pages business during The Kelsey Group's "Directory Driven Commerce 2007" conference.

On Day 2 of the conference, a session titled "Free DA, Enhanced DA: Where Is the Winning Play for Publishers?" will feature James Geddes Jr., president, chief executive officer and founder, America Say Hello; Dipanshu Sharma, founder and chief technology officer, V-Enable; Mark McCormack, vice president of marketing and strategy, Call Genie; and John Roswech, senior vice president of sales, 1-800-FREE411.

I have previously used the 1-800-FREE411 service, which works just fine. However, after comparing features and benefits I now use Google's 'experimental' directory assistance service -- 1 800-466-4411 -- which has the added benefit of integration with the "find businesses" feature of local listings from the Google Maps service, which is also integrated via Google Mobile.

This panel of experts will consider such key issues as compatibility of this business with existing assets and how meaningful DA will become as a source of revenues and of value for advertisers.

"Increasingly, telecoms, directory publishers and search engines are getting into the directory assistance business, particularly in the mobile arena," said Charles Laughlin, senior vice president and program director, The Kelsey Report, and managing editor, The Kelsey Group.

The Kelsey Group's annual Yellow Pages conference is recognized as the objective and definitive event on the future of this high-margin global industry. The program encourages audience interaction and features 50 speakers who will participate through presentations, one-on-one interviews, panel discussions and research sessions.

Partners for DDC2007 include the Association of Directory Marketing (ADM), Association of Directory Publishers (ADP), International Classified Media Association (ICMA), Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) and Yellow Pages Association (YPA).

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