New initiatives put small firms in the spotlight


Date: 17 November 2020

Amazon building

A new collaboration between Yell and Amazon means that millions of small businesses can now be found using Alexa; and a start-up is offering grants to help SMEs make TV ads.

Since October, over 2.5 million Yell customers in the UK have become discoverable via Alexa thanks to a collaboration between Yell and Amazon. This agreement is in addition to similar arrangements that Yell has in place with Apple and Bing. The rich content includes consumer reviews, opening hours and other business information.

According to Yell, ownership of voice-activated smart speakers in Great Britain has grown by 35% since 2019 and over two-thirds of owners interact with their voice assistants on a daily basis. Now, thanks to the collaboration, Brits can ask Alexa to find them a local plumber or a nearby hairdresser.

Claire Miles, ceo of Yell, said: "We're always looking at how we can broaden the channels from which our customers can be found. With many of us spending more time in our homes, it's key to enable end consumers to search for and find the local businesses or services they need, through their preferred choices of digital channel. This arrangement with Amazon … now makes it even easier for end consumers to ask for local business information straightaway."

Meanwhile, another new initiative has been launched to help UK small businesses advertise on TV. Barter start-up baggl has pledged £1 million worth of TV advertising grants for small businesses.

The initiative is being supported by AdSmart from Sky and it aims to give 300 small businesses match-funded TV advertising grants worth £3,500. Applicants will be required to match-fund this with an equal contribution of £3,500, totalling £7,000 for an AdSmart local TV campaign, including video production.

Each successful applicant will receive a 30-second localised TV commercial, including video production. The ads will be broadcast on a regular basis over 30 days across Sky's premium channels including Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, MTV, National Geographical and Sky Atlantic. The ads will be targeted based on customer attributes including age, gender, income, profession and residential status and within a 2.5-mile radius of their desired postcode.

According to baggl, campaigns will be turned around and ready for broadcast in one to two weeks, allowing small businesses to get on to television leading up to Christmas and into 2021. Applications close on 31 December 2020.

Baggl is a new online marketplace about to launch, where business and freelance members can trade products and services with one another using a combination of cash and barter trade credits.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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