Online directory combines int'l yellow, white pages

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Online directory combines int'l yellow, white pages

Planet earth has a new phone book, or so says a campaign for Internet directory WorldPages, which bows on the Web this week.

Targeted to an international market, San Francisco-based WorldPages offers a database of about 115 million listings culled from yellow, white and blue (government) pages around the world.

Launching with advertisers including Wells Fargo Bank, Promus Hotels Co. and Canadian Airlines International, the site provides tools to target ads locally, regionally and nationally. Rates range from $25 to $60 per thousand impressions.

"What we liked about WorldPages is the ability to catch someone while they are looking for specific information," said Philip Coppard, director of interactive marketing, Ogilvy & Mather, Calgary, who placed Canadian Airlines in a six-month trial on the site.

ONLINE ADS WITH PERSONALITY

The online directory Oct. 1 breaks an aggressive Web campaign on sites including major search engines and editorial sites like Time Warner's Pathfinder and HotWired as well as offline news delivery service, the PointCast Network. Handled by DDB Interactive, Dallas, the campaign attempts to create a personality for the brand through animated characters like "earth boy" and "the little guy." One spot features the little guy carrying a stack of phone books saying, if "WorldPages were a phone book, you'd have a hernia."

Essential to WorldPages' stra-tegy is forming alliances with various partners, including pub-lishers of white pages and yellow pages. The directory is also part of Netscape Communication Corp.'s Destinations program that features sites from various categories on the Web. The company claims it will soon partner with Microsoft Corp. in a directory-related capacity.

"We're tapping into local advertisers, which are the bread and butter of directories," said Frank Thibodeau, CEO of WorldPages.

WorldPages faces plenty of competition on the Web including BigBook and Nynex Corp.'s Big Yellow, which both offer comprehensive directory listings on the Web.

"WorldPages is trying to do too much by offering white pages and yellow pages online," said Kris Hagerman, president of BigBook, which focuses only on yellow pages. "Research we've done tells us there aren't many people interested in international directory assistance. It's a very dangerous strategy."

Copyright September 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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