- I asked [Peter Negulescu (VP, SFGate)] why SFGate isn't an aggressive player in the local online advertising market ... He chided me for my ignorance regarding the 800-pound gorilla of local markets -- the Yellow Pages. "They have like 6-700 local sales people in every major region," he told me. "They visit every merchant in town." In other words, the Chronicle can never compete.
John is optimistic that local merchants would come to Yahoo or Google's website to self-manage their information and advertising, but I doubt you could get anything like the coverage you need with a self-service model. Many of these merchants don't even have a web site. They aren't tech savvy.
The Yellow Pages has uses hundreds of sales people because it has to. They need to physically send salespeople out to talk to each merchant. Getting complete coverage requires a massive, expensive sales force. That's why local search is hard.
See also "Down on local search".