Smart Performance is the new flagship product from Yell. It is now being heavily promoted to small business customers across the UK.
Smart Performance is a rebadged version of Gotu, a product developed and managed by the London-based, 77Agency. Yell simply license this product and sell it on at a high profit margin to their small business customers.
Yell claim that Smart Performance will display ads for your business via multiple publishers such as Facebook, Instagram and other third-party websites. Yell further claim it will then optimise the delivery of the ads based on where they are most likely to generate conversions (e.g. sales or customer enquiries) for the advertiser.
Unlike most other forms of digital advertising, Smart Performance is not charged based on the number of times your ad has been clicked. Instead, Yell charges a monthly fee regardless of whether the campaign delivers any clicks or conversions. In other words, whether the campaign performs well or poorly, Yell will still take their money.
Since Yell stopped printed paper directories, the company has attempted to offer a range of digital solutions to its customers. These products have proven to be unsuccessful for Yell and their customers. Yell has also experienced significant criticism that false claims are being made by their sales agents, that contracts are being missold and that their products fail to deliver results.
There has now been a motion tabled in Parliament and signed by 17 MPs across five political parties calling for an investigation into Yell’s business practices. Yell is also now being investigated by Trading Standards. Almost half of Yell’s existing customers have cancelled their contracts in the past year alone.
Smart Performance is Yell’s latest attempt to stem this flow of customer cancellations and save the business from going into liquidation. Smart Performance could be considered a “make or break” product for Yell.
I was recently contacted by a small business owner based in East Sussex. Yell’s sales agent assured him that, “Smart Performance will generate business for you within two months”. He signed up to a six-month contract and has been using the service since the 8th of May 2020.
In the past three months, his advertisement has (according to Yell) been viewed 83,208 times. In that same time period, he received only one customer enquiry which did not result in a sale. He is now attempting to extricate himself from that six-month contract. I have since heard from two other Yell customers who have claimed that Smart Performance has generated no new leads for their business, despite spending thousands of pounds.
When I checked the analytics data for these sites, there appears to be a vast disparity between the performance as reported by Yell and that shown within Google Analytics. You can draw your own conclusions as to which report is more likely to be accurate.
The idea behind Smart Performance is nothing new. It is a version of something known as ‘Programmatic Advertising’, a form of marketing recently described by Geber Consulting as “The biggest fraud in history“.
The report claims that programmatic ads will be shown to people who have no interest in your product or service, are clicked on by accident or in return for services such as “free wi-fi” and mostly viewed by bots, not humans.
It appears that Yell may still be up to their old tricks with Smart Performance.
The only semi-positive element of this product is that Yell only locks customers into a six-month contract as opposed to a 12-month contract for most of their other products. However, there is still no cooling-off period being offered.
If this were almost any other company offering this product, I might suggest giving them some time to iron out the inevitable teething issues. As it is Yell, it is more likely that this product is as unfit for purpose as most of their other products.
I can’t advise what you should or shouldn’t do. I can only comment on what I would do.
If you believe you were missold a contract by Yell, I suggest you email Trading Standards