Devon Biondi | VP, Strategy Services
January 30, 2013

YPG’s API-Powered Transformation


The Yellow Pages Group (YPG) has experienced an incredible journey from phonebook supplier to online communications and marketing giant. And since releasing an API, the Canadian company and its business partners continue to enjoy even more growth.

YPG began life as a directory publisher for Bell Canada after the invention of the telephone in 1908. For years the company distributed ad-supported phone books to residents across Canada, until the rise of the Internet rendered this business model obsolete.

Recognizing the need to transition away from print publications, YPG digitized its directory and then went one step further by enlisting Mashery to help launch Yellow API.

“The advertising game is transforming, and Gen Y folks may have never used a phone book,” explained YPG’s API Director Bradley Wing. “But now our API lets us power the big and small local search apps they use on a daily basis.”

As Wing suggests, Yellow API’s release greatly benefited YPG especially by connecting it with over 2,300 API-related partners. The Canadian divisions of Google and Yahoo, for instance, use YellowAPI to power their local search results, while FourSquare and YellowAPI have used the platform to work at harmonizing their data sets to improve accuracy at match business locations. Even one YPG’s main competitors in the mobile local search space, Poynt, now powers its local with YellowAPI.

In addition to benefiting from these partners, YPG is also helping developers by hosting regular hackathons and contests. Accelerators and events like FounderFuel and attract developers to use YellowAPI, which in many cases boosts their company’s productivity. Contests provide incentives like money, free advertising and increased visibility to programmers who build quality apps.

In this way, YellowAPI has spawned more than 50 apps, including four supported via YPG seed funding through its developer program. Two of these apps, Rendezview and Reservely, use the platform’s geolocation data to help Canadians find meeting places and restaurants.Thanks to its API strategy, both YPG and its partners are enjoying increased traffic and revenue. YPG and its properties now claim over 9 million unique users per month and made $360 million in online revenue during 2011. And by equipping YellowAPI with built-in advertising tools, the company is helping developers collect their share of the pie as well.

Beyond these benefits, YPG’s decision to partner with Mashery on its Yellow API has positively impacted Canada’s economy and environment.

As a side benefit of embracing the digital world, the former phonebook distributer now creates more jobs and less paper waste. If the company’s popular Fanboy blog is any sign, Canadian consumers view YPG as a positive influence in their country.

From creating telephone directories to APIs, then, YPG has come a long way and all indications suggest it will remain strong into the 21st century.