ONLINE business directory and search engine The Streets Network is in the midst of international expansion after signing an advertising deal with Google.
The Perth-based service is expanding rapidly into the US after signing up to Google’s ‘AdSense’ program two months ago, which doubled the company’s revenue overnight, and is planning a foray into Europe and other international markets.
Google’s AdSense program allows web publishers to earn revenue from advertising on their site while maintaining editorial quality by delivering text-based Google AdWords advertisements.
For Streets, the AdSense program has meant opportunities in the tough US market.
Streets co-founder Jonathan Huckabee said that, while online advertising was a relatively new medium, the service the company offered was both affordable and effective for businesses of any size.
The company has established online business directories in each of Australia’s capital cities, for example, www.streetsofperth.com.au, where businesses can list.
Mr Huckabee said the main point of difference between Streets and its competitors, such as Yellow Pages, was price.
He said a basic listing with Streets was available at a base rate of $27.50 – a price he claimed was significantly cheaper than the company’s competitors.
“We value the small business person who can’t afford the more expensive search engines,” Mr Huckabee said.
“We also use traditional advertising models that all businesses can understand.
“We think of ourselves as the Virgin Blue of the Internet directory scene,”
Mr Huckabee described the service as “highly targeted” web site traffic generation and Internet market, with a focus on the local business owner and the local user.
He said the system worked from a “reasonable annual membership structure” that had proved valuable, cost effective and affordable.
“The service is accessible and affordable to small business, but valuable to medium and larger enterprises as well,” he said.
Initially launched as a service to existing clients of CyanWeb Solutions – a web firm Mr Huckabee owns with Streets co-founder and partner Tracii Vann – The Streets Network quickly proved its viability and “took on a life of its own”.
In March 2000 a Streets Network web site was launched in Perth (the first site), followed by Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Darwin.
Plans are now under way to launch 50 US directories by July 2004 – 20 are already up and running – and later, services in other international markets.
Mr Huckabee said launching the service internationally would “allow business to directly target their domestic markets and export markets”.
“We are looking to have a major directory in every major city.”
However, Mr Huckabee said despite the global expansion planned for the company’s service network, there were no plans to drastically increase the company’s size.
Mr Huckabee and Ms Vann run their business from home and prefer to use technology to handle the company’s thousands of listings.
While there are plans to hire a translator to make the web site multilingual, along with an accounts person and content editor, Mr Huckabee said the system has been built so that it could be operated by an individual.
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