Yellow Pages Uses WebFOCUS to Demonstrate ROI to Advertisers

Information Builders Helps to Ensure Rapid and Efficient Big Data Analytics for Yellow Pages Customers

Yellow Pages (YP) is a digital media and marketing solutions company serving 260,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Canada. In recent years, Yellow Pages has transitioned from a print media company to one that offers a full spectrum of digital marketing solutions and services for businesses. The organization’s Customer and Advertiser Analytics group provides advertisers that run ads via the company’s web and mobile properties with information they need to measure return on their advertising dollars and track the success of their campaigns.

“Many of our advertisers are small and medium-sized businesses like florists, dentists, and plumbers,” explains Richard Langlois, director of Customer and Advertiser Analytics at Yellow Pages. “They aren’t always experienced in digital media and are often pressed for time, so we need to present data to them in a very intuitive and efficient manner.”

Yellow Pages chose the WebFOCUS business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform from Information Builders to support an application called YP Analytics. YP customers use this user-friendly dashboard to track interactions and measure key performance indicators focused on ROI and revenue. These analyses involve massive amounts of information and WebFOCUS integrates with Infobright’s analytic columnar database platform to accelerate query response times.

“Our job is to provide facts to our customers, so they can see how their digital advertising campaigns are working and what value these campaigns are delivering to their business,” Langlois says. “WebFOCUS is among multiple tools we use to help accomplish this.”

YP Analytics, built on WebFOCUS, enables Yellow Pages’ advertiser customers to track interactions and measure key performance indicators focused on ROI and revenue.

Harnessing Big Data

In daily data operations at YP, approximately 52 billon rows (nine TB) of raw data are loaded and processed each day, containing a rolling 25 months worth of data. Reaching more than 20 TB of total stored data, YP’s systems must be properly packaged to enable the speed and accuracy advertisers require.

Information from Hadoop is migrated to the analytic database platform, where it is compressed to an average ratio of 35:1. Yellow Pages uses Hadoop to cluster the entire table every day to ensure fast response times.

Benchmark tests have shown that response times for both canned and ad hoc queries are in the sub-second range for small and medium-sized businesses. For large advertisers with thousands of merchants, the response time may vary from two to 10 seconds.

“Because YP Analytics is a customer-facing application, performance is critical,” adds Langlois. “The YP Analytics application defaults to one year of data, which represents millions and millions of events. WebFOCUS integration with other database software is changing the game for us. Such rapid response times with that volume of information are just amazing.”

Demonstrating Return on Advertising Spend

Information Builders was chosen for its performance and scalability, as well as its intuitive development environment. Mobile capabilities, which enable YP customers to access and analyze information via smartphones and tablets even when they are disconnected, were also key factors.

YP Analytics allows advertisers to perform in-depth analysis of their digital campaigns. Users can track important metrics such as visitors, visits, page views, and interactions/clicks, as well as calls, in-shop walk-ins, digital contacts, and other performance indicators focused on ROI and revenue. Information from all digital advertiser assets, including merchant pages on the Yellow Pages network, the merchant’s website, and Facebook fan pages, can be collected and analyzed for a complete view of program results.

“We needed to present our big data to our customers in a way they can easily interpret,” says Langlois. “They know they got 35,000 impressions, 800 clicks, and 32 calls last month, but what does that mean? YP Analytics will show them more than just that raw activity; it will help them measure conversion rates and determine how large any related sales transactions were. In essence, it will translate digital advertising activity into dollars.”

Information Builders’ Professional Services team was on hand to help with the implementation of YP Analytics. They assisted with installation, configuration, and performance tuning.

An Innovative User Interface

The user interface for YP Analytics is highly intuitive, consisting of reporting widgets that offer instant access to critical information, such as clicks per month for the past 12 months, average number of clicks per month, number of calls received, average length per call, and the revenue calculator. Some of this information can be viewed graphically, as bar charts and in other formats.

Advertisers can also customize their views. For example, they can view activity by response channel (calls, interactions, visits), type of campaign (online, mobile, print, search engine) or line of business. Advertisers can also refine the time frame for data displayed, looking at a single month, three months, six months, etc. Annotations are also included to help explain where the numbers come from and why they are important.