Archive for March, 2009

Dex Mobile App Provides Service On-the-Go

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

YPA Member R.H. Donnelly launched a new mobile search application yesterday that can be downloaded for free on any mobile device.Supporting the increasing consumer demand for service on-the-go, the new Dex Mobile App enables shoppers to access detailed information on more than 27 million businesses and more than 100 million people through their mobile phone or other handheld device.

The application is exciting because it was designed with a mobile user in mind – acknowledging that shoppers often don’t know exactly what they want. As we reported last week - comScore indicates that 75% of the top 100 keywords searched on IYPs in 2008 were non-branded. 

With Dex Mobile you can search using a specific business name, type, or location or generally search an area or a “Feelin’ Like” category to get suggestions on places to go and things to do. Other user-friendly features include “click-to-connect”, mapping and people search options, among others.

We are excited to see the industry move further toward integrated mobile solutions, and will keep you posted on other innovations.

Local Auto Body Repair/Paint Shops Make a Dent in April

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You probably know that April is when millions of Americans start thinking about swimsuit season, but it turns out that shaking off the winter is not just about personal body repair – it’s about getting your car in shape, too. This month, usage of the “Auto Body/Paint” heading spikes, particularly with 18-to-49 year-old male drivers looking for dent, fender, windshield, bumper and front end repairs.

Ron Pyle, president of the Automotive Service Association, says that weather is a major determining factor of auto body repair, but that this year, the economy has also had an impact. Read more of Ron’s thoughts on the auto repair industry in his blog, and in this CNN article discussing how the economy is increasing spending on maintenance.

In addition to saving money, 79% of heading users also want to shop locally. That’s a good thing, because this heading is dominated by local advertisers: of the 36,000 auto body shops nationwide, the 50 largest firms only account for 8 percent of the industry’s $25 billion total revenue.

If you are an independent advertiser in this industry or are working with one, here are some impressive stats to have at your fingertips:

  • The Yellow Pages is the #1 medium used by consumers to find an auto body/painting shop: 32% of active buyers refer to the Yellow Pages, which is three times more than any other medium.
  • In addition to the 47.1 million references generated in print Yellow Pages, Internet Yellow Pages receive 7.7 million searches per year for this heading.
  • The average local display ad generates around 215 sales per year, or $385,000 in sales revenues.
  • According to an annual survey of underhood service shops conducted by Babcox Research, 64% of auto body shops use the Yellow Pages as an advertising method.
  • After referencing this heading, 52% of users conduct a transaction and an additional 38% say they intend to.

Local Search Grew 58% in 2008 – Outpacing Core Search

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New data we released today indicates that local search grew almost three times as fast as overall Web search in 2008.According to a new comScore study, local search grew 58% in 2008, outpacing the 21% growth in overall U.S. core Web search during the same period.

Although the volume of core search still far exceeds that of local search – reaching 137 billion vs. 15.7 billion searches in 2008, respectively – the surge in local search bumped its share of overall core search on the top 5 portals up from 10% to 12% for the year.

The increased activity certainly bodes well for IYPs. The study indicated that Internet Yellow Pages and local online business directories saw 23% growth over 2008 to 4.6 billion searches, demonstrating that as demand for local content grows, so will the demand for local online business listings.

Overall – it’s an interesting backdrop for the explosion of local Web content we’ve seen in the first quarter of this year. If things continue as they have in recent months, be prepared for some even more compelling numbers for 2009.

HyperLocal Market Heats Up

Friday, March 20, 2009

The recent entrance of The New York Times and Google/AOL executive-backed Patch Media to the local online market set off some tremors this week. As reported by Bloomberg’s Tim Mullaney, the hyperlocal market is heating up – fast.

For those not familiar: Patch Media is a new local media group backed by former Google Senior Vice President Tim Armstrong (who was just named AOL’s new CEO late on Thursday, March 12).

Patch Media’s sudden, aggressive campaign to win readers and advertisers in the town of Maplewood, N.J., is posing some serious competition for The Times’ new Local Blogs network, which also selected Maplewood as a pilot community.

Why the sudden intensity? I guess it was inevitable. The newspaper industry, facing pressure to reinvent itself in the digital world, is looking for ways to provide news to broader, more engaged audiences with leaner staff and less expensive channels. That means community-based coverage on a blogger budget.

The catch: they’re counting on revenue to come from one of the few areas where advertising dollars are still growing – local online advertisement and business listings.

From the Yellow Pages perspective, this raises some interesting points and questions:

  1. Our belief in the value of local has been reinforced: local search data and rich community relationships are highly valuable assets in a knowledge economy, and our industry has deep underlying assets that will keep it vibrant and relevant for many years to come.
  2. Growth in hyperlocal media sites is an opportunity, not a threat: As the demand for hyperlocal Web content grows, so too will the demand for extensive, accurate local business search data, and Yellow Pages has the best experience and infrastructure available to provide that data. No one else can match the wealth of our data or the reach of our sales channel. Assuming that competition will push the market to find price-efficient solutions, hyperlocal media would be better served to partner with existing local business directories than to reinvent the wheel.
  3. Like the newspaper industry, we too are undergoing a transformation: It’s ironic that after years of eschewing our business model, the newspaper industry is now quickly trying to jump on our bandwagon. But before we pat ourselves on the back, its important to emphasize that all media and advertising models are grappling with the dual forces of tightening economics and increasing migration to digital platforms, and the Yellow Pages are no different. Only continued investment in infrastructure, marketing and new platforms will ensure that we grow and thrive to stay financially sound and relevant to our users and advertisers. Fortunately for us, we already have products and channels in place that generate strong revenues and margins (which, as Mullaney notes, has been the stumbling block for some promising up-starts like Backfence.com). We also have a head start on understanding and addressing the challenges in our space.

Looking forward, I expect that the hyperlocal explosion is going to catalyze a million short races — but the Yellow Pages are in the best position to win the marathon.

The big names and various players entering the race make things interesting. No one quite knows what the future looks like, but with blogs, news content, business directories, social networking, and advertising all merging into hyperlocal hubs – it seems to begs the question – is a mashup of some sort the eventual solution?

I would be interested to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment.

Internet Yellow Pages Grow Double Digits

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today we released our annual Yellow Pages Industry Usage Study top line results, which provide a good trendline on how often consumers refer to Yellow Pages – both print and Internet.

We weren’t surprised by what we saw this year.

For starters, Internet Yellow Pages usage was up significantly over last year. The comScore research found that searches grew 22 percent to 4.6 billion in 2008.

Overall usage of Yellow Pages platforms – print and Internet – totaled 16.9 billion references in 2008. That’s a dip of 2% – a respectable performance given the rocky economy. When consumers shop less, they search for local businesses less.

Also no surprise, we saw a decline in print Yellow Pages usage. According to KN/SRI, print Yellow Pages references in 2008 were 12.3 billion compared to 13.4 billion in 2007.

What does all of this mean?

First, Yellow Pages are not immune to recession any less than other industries. When consumer spending picks up again, we’ll see greater usage of our products.

Second, online local search is hot. We are transforming from a directory publisher to a multi-channel player in the fast-growing local search industry. This is proven not only by the phenomenal growth of Internet Yellow Pages sites, but also through growth in all local search sites that we feed our data to.

Third, the online local search trend impacts print usage. People still turned to print directories more than 12 billion times last year. These are active, ready-to-buy consumers, which makes the ROI of advertising in print Yellow Pages very high – critical in tough economic periods.

But at the same time, we recognize that consumer trends are changing for the long term. The data we have on businesses, and the personal relationships we hold with them, are very valuable. We’ll continue to innovate local search solutions that meet these trends – so that whatever way consumers choose to find a local business, chances are the last mile of the search will always be supported by Yellow Pages.

Comparing White Pages to Yellow Pages

Monday, March 16, 2009

There’s been quite a bit of coverage about recent decisions by telephone companies to stop automatic delivery of residential White Pages.

So the next logical question is should we continue to deliver the print Yellow Pages?

The answer is definitely – yes.

AT&T said that “Customers are a lot less reliant on the printed residential White Pages than they used to be.” An AT&T spokesperson said, for example, growing cell phone use has made the printed directory less relevant, since mobile numbers are not listed. Candisky said about 60 percent of telephone numbers in Ohio are for cell phones.

But Yellow Pages fill a different need than White Pages – the need for 8 out of 10 U.S. consumers to find local businesses in their community.

Of course, technology is also a driver in changing our behavior. We’re much more apt to use our mobile device as a directory now, storing numbers in our phones as we receive them.

But finding a local business usually requires us to look beyond our mobile contact list. For many, that’s a print directory with businesses categorized for easy search.

For others, it means a trip online – via our home computer or mobile browser – to an Internet Yellow Pages site or a search engine like Google or Yahoo! Local, which receive data feeds from Yellow Pages companies.

But the growing usage of online local search hasn’t eliminated the need for print directories. In fact, print Yellow Pages were referenced more than 12.3 billion times in 2008. And they are still one of the most effective ways for businesses to advertise.

Additionally, the Yellow Pages include business listings, government listings and a wide range of consumer information. Many people turn to the print Yellow Pages to get this information quickly when then need it.

So, let’s not mix apples and oranges, or in this case White and Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages continue to be a great way to connect buyers and sellers.

Student Challenge Adds Yellow Pages to the Curriculum

Friday, March 13, 2009

Teaching a new generation of students about the effectiveness of Yellow Pages advertising is important to the long term sustainability of our industry.

So, for the past three years, the Yellow Pages Association has sponsored the YPA Advertising Challenge for advertising and marketing students and instructors in North America.

In the competition, students create print and Internet Yellow Pages ads for a pre-determined advertiser. Students around the country are busy preparing their ads now, to submit by April 24. We’ll judge the entries in May and ultimately award $10,000 in prizes to the winning students and their academic advisors.

The program was developed by Dr. Joel Davis, Professor of Advertising at San Diego St. University to address the lack of information about Yellow Pages in today’s adverting and marketing curriculums.

Since the introduction of the program during the 2005-2006 academic year the number of student participants has increased from 573 to well over 2,000 and the number of participating schools has increased from 67 to 189. More importantly, over 90% of both students and instructors said that they had a better understanding of the Yellow Pages medium after participating in the competition.

There’s still time to participate.  If you’re a professor and would like your students to participate, take a minute to register now.

2007-2008 First Place Winner -- Small Directory Ad

2007-2008 First Place Winner -- Small Directory Ad

2006 - 2007 First Place Winner -- Internet Ad

2006 - 2007 First Place Winner -- Internet Ad

Blogging About Bloggers

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Registrations are coming for the annual 2009 Yellow Pages Conference and Exhibition on April 26-28 at the beautiful Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. Our conference is the premier event in the Yellow Pages industry, attracting the A-List of attendees and a packed agenda of speakers and panelists.

This year one of our general session panels will feature the outspoken, never shy and always interesting bloggers covering Yellow Pages, search and advertising in general. Whether you follow the blogs on a regular basis as a lurker or a constant commenter, or you’re not quite sure if blogging is a fad or the new media, this is a “don’t miss” session. For a taste of what to expect, check out some of our panelists’ blogs:

Yes, I’m blogging about bloggers, but this is your chance to hear what they have to say about this “new tool for our new world.”

To comment, click below. To be part of our new world, come to San Diego! See you there.

Tweeting Local Search

Thursday, March 5, 2009

After what has mostly been a social networking phenomenon, Twitter is now looking at ways to become a more integral part of local search.

Pose a question to the Twitter audience, like “What is a good cheap and casual restaurant near the Sears Tower?” and users write back with their suggestions.

It makes sense that Twitter would be looking for ways to leverage its network to enter local search, especially for social networking sites that haven’t fully figured out how to monetize their business models.

If Twitter is successful in making Tweets a useful source of business recommendations, the innovators in our industry must tap into those networks to help our business customers take advantage of the trend.

In-Text Advertising Makes Local Search Just One Click Away

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I thought this recent article on CNN Money about YellowPages.com’s success with in-text advertising provides an excellent illustration of how our industry is migrating from business-focused to consumer-focused strategies.

For those who are not familiar: in-text advertising is a sort of hybrid between SEM and hyperlinking.

It works by allowing businesses to advertise through key words that appear within the text of high-traffic sights, such as Fox News, MSNBC, or iVillage. These words appear hyperlinked, but rather than just a single underline, they are recognizable by a double-underline that produces a small pop-up ad box when the word is scrolled over.

In practice, CNN Money reports that Yellowpages.com:

… would pick key words, like “restaurant,” that could be highlighted in the story… If users rolled their mouse over the word, a Yellowpages.com search box would appear, showing a link with search results on local restaurants in that user’s zip code.

The future of our industry is about making local search information available in all places at all times. Rather than waiting for consumers to identify a need and then come to us, we increasingly need to anticipate their needs and put ourselves where they are.

Whether its through GPS mapping, mobile applications, or in-text advertising, our ultimate goal is to always make local business search data just one click away.

Exciting stuff. Keep the innovations coming, guys.