Will Verizon YP bring the Cue-Cat back again thanks to smart phones?

December 16, 2009

UPC CodeMobile barcode scanners on smart phones might prove useful to Yellow Pages publishers. Bar Code scanner apps created by yellow pages publishers can be used to send clients to advertisers coupons, social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as updated wait times and more!

2001, just a year after I started with Verizon, they had a feature in the book that included barcodes for  scanners, called Cue Cats, which were made by Radio Shack.

Still chasing deals
Despite weak demand, DigitalConvergence continues to ink partnerships to expand its business. It said Wednesday that it is working with Verizon Information Services, a directory publisher, to distribute interactive yellow pages printed with scanner “cues,” which resemble bar codes.

DigitalConvergence said it is distributing 1 million SuperPages directories with cues in community and advertising sections of the yellow pages in Dallas. Advertisers can purchase a cue and place it within their advertisement as a means to drive people to their Web site.

In November, DigitalConvergence and A.T. Cross unveiled a wireless version of the scanner, a pen device that is available to consumers on the Web for $89. Andrew Lavin, a spokesman for A.T. Cross, would not disclose sales figures but said the device has had limited distribution so far. He said the writing instrument manufacturer plans to sell the pens in stores later this year.

The company also is launching the CueCat service with General Electric’s NBC this summer and is working with Harcourt Publishers to place bar-codes in textbooks.

Analysts are unimpressed with the company, however, saying it faces serious consumer adoption problems.

“They’re spending lot of money to capture an audience,” said Ron Glaz, an analyst at IDC. “It’s pretty scary…They’re starving for demand. It looks like they’re trying to find a way to get people to use it, and they have to show the product manufacturers that it’s worth their investment.”

Founded in 1998, DigitalConvergence met with immediate criticism from privacy experts when it released the scanners last year.

The company denies that it violates consumer privacy rights. It said it does not compile data that can be tracked back to a specific name, address, phone number or e-mail address, although it does collect general, aggregated data based on gender, age and location.

“We’re providing an opportunity for companies to take their advertising–as well as their content, for that matter–and actually have some tangible results to tie it to a Web strategy,” DigitalConvergence’s Eschbach said.

Analysts, however, remain skeptical of the company’s future and the willingness of consumers to embrace the technology, which has yet to become mainstream.

I always thought the idea was pretty cool and was fairly sound, but it was a bit too far ahead of its time and not very usable. Not the best way to connect folks to a phone book. Folks need content on the internet supported by print campaigns. The yellow pages need to find ways of promoting print (which still has viability to some degree) by leveraging online content. Many of the best shoppers in print directories go to the internet to further research a company for large and lengthy purchases. Most folks don’t start with the internet and end up in a phone book. That would be like investing in type writer repair. lol

I believe that mobile barcode scanners and smartphone apps are a perfect combination. Adding the print yellow pages in the mix will be a smart move.

This is something for Idearc to consider,  but some of the smart fellers over there are pretty dumb if you ask me. I am sure the years of experience at Pepsi and building supply companies makes them more than qualified to lead a local advertising and marketing organization.

Yellow Pages to Adopt Cue Cat type technology again with mobile smart phones? They also failed to properly compensate John Seidenstein, who created the Pay for Calls program Idearc is migrating its CMRs and National Agencies towards, enough money to keep him around.

(They are also planning the same thing for local. It is better to sell leads than sell ads. This will impact the future of advertising sales. Eventually, based on the current path, Idearc will be a telemarketing organization.)

Instead, John left Idearc (after making them millions) to go to create the same Pay for Calls program for AT&T. Idearc again failing to realize that talent was within the ranks. Another example of the failures of the companies new crony executive team. He made the company millions, meanwhile Scott Klein is the fella in the 3.2 million dollar home! lol (but hey, I am just some 28 year old kid who grew up working for Verizon Yellow Pages for over 9 years…. what do I know?)

Maybe Idearc is making a secret effort to “standardize the yellow pages industy?” If that is the case, this is nuts from a competitive perspective. Tell your competitors how you are doing things better? Can’t wait to see AT&T offer a “YPGuaranteeIt” for $500.01 to local consumers. lol.

BTW, Thanks to Greg Sterling for pointing out that barcode scanners in yellow pages already exists to some degree overseas.