Roughly seven years ago before UBL launched I had a conversation with its founders about their idea for a single entry point online to distribute local business data to all the relevant consumer directories and touchpoints. I supported their idea in principle and said at the time there was a great need and pent up demand for such a service.
UBL was born but in the interim many other companies have developed similar services. Thus there is no definitive “one stop data shop” for local — there are several. The most successful of the competitors in the space has been Yext, which has arguably become the dominant brand in the “digital presence management” market segment.
Yext has raised a lot of money and done a great job marketing itself. Meanwhile many other sites offer similar services and capabilities, albeit without the same brand recognition. Some people will tell you that local business data syndication is a “commodity service.” Those in the space such as Yext CEO Howard Lerman or Factual’s Tyler Bell or UBL’s Doyal Bryant will all disagree with that characterization.
Against that history and industry backdrop, UBL and the parent of Local Site Submit, Advice Interactive Group, are announcing a merger this morning. The terms were not disclosed and the name of the new combined entity hasn’t been definitively determined.
Bryant and Advice Interactive CEO Bernadette Coleman told me that the combination brings together unmatched technology assets and a new capacity to serve a global market. They also acknowledged that the merger was in part driven by the need to bulk up to compete with Yext.
In their release about the merger the UBL-Advice missive said this morning:
Together these companies will help agencies, brands and SMB’s take control of their location data on business listings appearing on Google Bing, Yahoo and Apple Maps along with hundreds of local search directories, social networks, and mapping services across the internet.
This new combined entity will be a global leader in SaaS based API syndication and presence management, distribution, analytics, as well as the process by which businesses claim ownership and optimize listings on local search sites. Sign up at the company’s temporary site “I’m All About That Data” (http://www.ImAllAboutThatData.com) to receive news and information, and to be one of the first to have access to the UBL/Advice combined tools including profile syndication, local content optimization, visibility reports, citation reports, sales tools, lead generation widgets and social and review management modules, as well as other powerful features and tools set to launch in the next few months.
This merger could trigger other consolidation as parties recognize that digital presence management is a global market and only a relatively small number of large players will be able to compete for enterprise business. There will probably still be room for smaller “high quality” or specialized providers, but those companies typically won’t have the name or brand recognition and may not be considered accordingly.
UBL’s Bryant said he that the market was seeing a bit of a “land grab” right now. So it would appear.