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Obviously, not every customer will always be happy. That's part of life, and you should accept that any company may have customers for whom it cannot deliver profitable service - and in that case, no one should expect parties to "have" to do business with each other. That's a pretty reasonable stance for a company to take, I would have thought.
LookSmart Australia shares a business model with LookSmart in US. We have different products to give life to that business model, as you'd expect from any sensible global business in this day and age. The data suggests very clearly that listing in LookSmart Australia is a "must-have" part of a marketing spend for SME's online who are interested in Australian traffic. People can read about what we're offering, call and ask us questions, and if they believe they can obtain value from our services, then they can buy our listings products. If not, then that's their right also.
Question 9 (WR) - How sustainable is it to operate completely different business models in various countries in a global market? How do you expect SEO's and resellers to explain different LookSmart search models and recommend competing services?
(DS) We have a single worldwide business model - but not surprisingly, we have different products and channels to deliver those products in different markets. It'd be a funny sort of company that had exactly same product in every market. I can promise you won't see a toasted ham, cheese & tomato sandwich on menu at McDonalds© in Iowa, but you will in Australia! While we have a single world-wide business model - search-targeted marketing - it shouldn't surprise people that actual products and channels to sell those products vary market to market. It's pretty reasonable business practice to adapt your products to local market.
Question 10 (WR) - For a long time now, LookSmart Australia has claimed to reach 66% of Australian search market via partnerships with OptusNet, NineMSN, News Interactive, F2 and GoEureka. Given changes to industry and rocketing popularity of Google with Australian users, is this figure still accurate?
(DS) Very much so - in fact, we've just rechecked figure with AC Nielsen, who are, along with Red Sheriff, authoritative sources on this subject. Their unduplicated reach figure for our network is over 66%. It's pretty simple. If you want Australian traffic, inclusion in LookSmart directory is a pretty vital part of a small business marketing spend.
Question 11 (WR) - Given all negative feedback they're currently receiving from existing customers, do you think LookSmart Ltd should have handled model merge differently?
(DS) Despite what some people might believe, LookSmart is receiving very little negative feedback. As of today, we've received thousands of new orders, with far fewer customer service issues than anticipated. We messaged change in advance, and have provided information through email, on site and through customer service to help customers transition. Obviously, you can build & improve on any product implementation, and we intend to do that.
Question 12 (WR) - LookSmart Australia recently announced a deal with Yahoo! Australia & NZ to provide "pay-per-position" search results to Yahoo users. What are benefits of deal for LookSmart Australia customers and is deal with Yahoo LookSmart Australia's way of breaking into Pay Per Click market here?
(DS) LookSmart's deal with Yahoo! Australia & NZ is part of our new "looklistings" distribution network in Australia. Across a number of properties - which at moment include Yahoo! Australia & NZ, Goeureka, OptusNet and LookSmart Australia - we now provide top 3 search listings on a CPC basis for highly relevant listings. Only highly relevant results will make it in there - we're not going to sell keyword "home loans" to someone selling tickets to sporting events, for example! The commitment to relevance is a big part of reason those major distribution partners have signed up with us. I can promise you that if Yahoo! Australia & NZ believes we're providing poor results, they'll let us know, pretty damn quick.
For Australian customers, product has a very simple benefit - highly relevant, guaranteed prominence listings on major search properties in Australia, attracting LOCAL traffic only. Sure there's Australians typing in "home loans" on Google - but there's millions more Americans doing same thing, whereas on our network partners, it's all local traffic. Relevance comes from local traffic, as much as from work of our team and search algorithm. We believe ROI on our product will beat rest.
LookSmart has always been in "pay per click" market in Australia - most of our larger clients pay on this basis rather than on a fixed annual fee. Those clients - such as ebay, Seek.com.au, Wizard Home Loans etc - have been on CPC basis for some time, and will continue to do so. It's preferred method of paying for listings for larger clients, and works very well in terms of tracking leads and calculating ROI across a very large number of listings.
------------------------------ Web Rank would like to thank Damian Smith for taking time to respond to our questions. If you have additional questions for LookSmart as a result of reading this interview, Damian suggested emailing him directly at mailto:email@example.com Further information on LookSmart.com's LookListings for Small Business can be found here: http://listings.looksmart.com/. More information on LookSmart Australia's LookListings product can be found here: https://www.looklistings.com.au/. For those who missed it, LookSmart Ltd announced their Q1 Results at end of April. Details can be found here: http://news.cnet.com/investor/news/newsitem/0-9900-1028-9812520-0.html. The market's response to announcement can be witnessed here: http://www.shareholder.com/looksmart/chart.cfm?Period=1&Bench1= ------------------------------
Copyright © Kalena Jordan 2002
About the Author:
Article by Kalena Jordan, CEO of Web Rank. Kalena was one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia & New Zealand and is well known and respected in her field. For more of her articles on search engine ranking and online marketing, please visit http://www.high-search-engine-ranking.com