AT&T on Friday introduced a service that lets mobile phone subscribers look up a business by sending a text message to its Yellow Pages subsidiary.
To get listings, the user simply sends a message to YP411 with a business name or category, along with a city and state or ZIP code. In return, YellowPages.com delivers up to three listings. Clicking on a telephone number in a listing will automatically initiate a call to the business.
Users of phones and handheld computers that have Internet access through WAP can get more details on the business, such as a map or directions, by clicking on another link. WAP, or wireless application protocol, is a standard used in getting mobile devices on the Web.
AT&T said the service was part of a multiple distribution strategy for its business directory. The added channel is available at no additional charge to advertisers and businesses found on YellowPages.com.
The latest mobile feature is one of several launched by AT&T over the last few months. Others include a send-to-mobile service that allows Internet users to send search results from YellowPages.com to their wireless phones in the form of a text message for retrieval later. The company also launched a mobile browser, and a single search box available to AT&T wireless subscribers.
There's no cost for the services, other than the regular text-messaging fees charged by wireless service providers.
AT&T's focus on mobile search runs parallels with online search engines Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live Search. All three want to reach mobile subscribers to extend their advertising reach. While representing a fraction of the online searches of the top three portals, with Google the undisputed leader, AT&T managed to receive about 1 billion searches last year on YellowPages.com, according to the company.
In January, eMarketer projected that total mobile ad spending in the U.S. would increase to $4.8 billion in 2011 from $421 million last year.