The curiously named Australian online directory HotFrog launched today in the UK.
Like its Austrailian forbearer, the site brings the buzzcloud concept (utilized most notably by social search engines such as Eurekster's Swicki and Yahoo!'s MyWeb) to directory listings. This makes a lot of sense given that online directories are category based.
The buzzcloud gives readers a quick representation of the post popular categories; and its front and center positioning gives off the immediate impression that the site is very web 2.0. (it also offers RSS feeds).
Listings are free to post and the site appears to employ a model where it collects as many listings as possible, against which it serves AdWords sponsored links. These are shown to the right and below listings within each category page.
The strategy to collect as many listings as possible is in line with its offer for any business to list itself for free. Its other proposition is that businesses can choose as many keywords as they want as meta tags for their listings. This will presumably improve SEO which is helpful to both local businesses and to HotFrog's goal of monetizing greater amounts of site traffic and gaining exposure and more content.
This tagging on the part of businesses could also allow for more effective contextual matching for sponsored links. Currently it seems like AdWords is their only form of monetization which means they will have to scale this up to a considerable degree to make any meaningful revenues. The free listing and SEO benefits are enticing but we'll have to wait and see if it gains traction among businesses in the U.K.