Archive for April, 2009

2008 YPA Industry Excellence Awards Cap Off Conference

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Amidst the changes and challenges of 2008, Yellow Pages industry experts continued to create, innovate and change the way we do business. Last night’s annual YPA Industry Excellence Awards highlighted the change agents and mavens in our field with awards going to companies – big and small.

As Neg Norton put it in his toast to the group, “we honor the dreamers and visionaries” who have been busy creating the art, technology and platforms to move Yellow Pages advertising into the New World.

Take a look at the full list of our 2008 honorees.

In addition, we honored three individuals for their contributions. The Stuart Stanze Award went to Maggie Stonencipher, AVP Print and Delivery Services, R.H. Donnelley, for her tireless efforts with legislative and environmental groups. She ably makes the case, on behalf of R.H. Donnelley, that the Yellow Pages industry is responding to changing consumer needs and a good corporate citizen in the communities where they operate. The entire industry has benefited from her work in this area.

Jim Logan former (past president of YPPA and former president of U.S. West Direct) and Herb Gordon, (president of the Association of Directory Marketing and former president of Yellow Pages Division at Ketchum Communications, Inc.) both received Lifetime Achievement Awards for their commitment and contribution to the Yellow Pages industry. With a long history of service and leadership, they are stand-outs in an industry of high-achievers.

The Three Heads, an LA band, rocked the entire show and our own Coach Yellow, Steve Hochman did a great job of getting the audience and the winners completely engaged. Betty Brown, National Yellow Pages Media, said, “My table had a ball! We were cheering the winners and enjoying the evening.”

YPA thanks attendees for making this a great show!

Burke Research Leads Discussion on Measurement

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stacy McWhorter, vice president, client services of Burke, led a spirited discussion about research and the best way for our industry to measure reach and frequency.

Burke is helping design research studies that use behavior-based methodology and look at usage for a number of different media types. Stacy explained the methodological differences between this approach and studies conducted previously.

One key objective of future research is to demonstrate print’s strong usage, and Internet Yellow Pages growth, as compared to other local search tools. It’s important that we have reliable data to communicate about our significance in search.

Another objective is to build on our database of usage research that sales teams turn to when working with customers to implement advertising strategies that will work for them.

There’s a lot of thinking going into new research tools that will be critically important to us in the future. I’m excited to see strong interest from Yellow Pages companies on generating accurate and useful information for our industry.

Ken Clark: Economy Offers Opportunity to Attract New Talent to Yellow Pages

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In a break out session this afternoon, Ken Clark suggested that the fallout from the current economic recession could have a silver lining: new talent.

Ken, who has over 25 years of experience in the Yellow Pages and now recruits for the industry, said that in the last year we’ve migrated from a “war for talent” to a “bumper year of overqualified resumes.”

The glut of experience in the market presents an interesting opportunity when placed against another key observation – that the Yellow Pages has had a hard time in recent years attracting fresh high-quality college grads who are dazzled by other “emerging” industries.

Putting the two together – Ken encouraged employers to resist the urge to disqualify a candidate because they seem too overqualified.

“In some cases older, more experienced candidates have been overlooked because they already had management experience or because they didn’t have Yellow Pages experience, specifically. This is a shame. We have a unique opportunity to shake things up and bring in some new talent – some fresh ideas.”

Yellow Pages might do well, he added, to take this moment to rewrite their skill set models. Rather than industry experience, employers should be looking for specific traits and qualities that lend well to the industry.

Ken’s recommendation?

“Hire athletes,” he said. “Athletes are open to being trained, they understand structure, they are good team players and can get back up after failing and try, try again.”

Bloggers Debate About Blogs

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Greg Sterling (Screeenwerks), Sebastien Provencher (Praized) and Peter Krasilovsky (The Kelsey Group), joined me on stage this morning to talk about the power and influence of blogs. Commenting on Malcolm Gladwell’s presentation – “he made important ideas simpler” – they moved on to discuss where they get their ideas, from conversations, news articles and information provided by companies.

Each appreciates being asked into the “conversation” about new products, services and ideas and having an opportunity to share the story with their readers.

Commenting about the future of blogging, Provencher said, “I believe local media and social media are merging together – converging. Eventually we will only be talking about one thing. This idea is broadening my audience.”

Sterling added, “The reality is that social media is here to stay and so you have to get engaged.”

Krasilovsky jumped in to say, “I like to see other bloggers help others to understand new ideas – the idea-sharing part of this experience is very important.”

When asked who they read they listed the following:

Peter Krasilovsky: http://www.viralhousingfix.com/
Sebastian Provencher: http://radar.oreilly.com/tim/
Greg Sterling: http://www.techmeme.com/

Info-Rich Ads Drive Usage and ROI

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

After today’s general session where Sensis offered an impressive overview of their transformation, we had an opportunity in one of the afternoon’s breakout sessions to dive further into info-rich advertising.

And in that session, Jo Lynne Whiting from Sensis and Dr. Dennis Fromholzer from CRM Associates definitively demonstrated why Sensis is the best in class when it comes to Yellow Pages companies.

Starting with a customer focused plan, the company has proven that ad content is the key to success in revenue growth, usage growth, customer retention and customer and employee satisfaction.

Sensis has changed from a model of usage, price and discounting to one that measures and communicates the value of the medium. This transformation should serve as the benchmark for publishers worldwide.

What’s especially impressive is how they’ve aligned the entire organization around the importance of generating high-quality, info-rich ads for advertisers (afterall, a good ad can generate up to 10 times the results of a bad one). Now the entire Sensis organization – from the board of directors to in-the-field sales reps – has been extensively trained on the attributes an effective display ad.

And the results speak for themselves.

Sensis Tells Growth Story

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The team from Sensis returned again to this year’s conferece with a dynamic and inspiring session. Bruce Akhurst, CEO, Carol Johnson, COO, Donna Federico, Director-Sales Operations and Jo Lynne Whiting, Senior Advisor for Sensis were on hand to present the story of continued growth for Sensis.This session built upon the message Sensis presented at last year’s YPA conference, and updated and expanded on the health and growth both Yellow and White Pages have experienced in Australia.

With over 600,000 customers, Sensis has put its focus and resources squarely on customer, and as a result as seen great growth in its Yellow and White Pages business.

Bruce Akhurst told audiences he knows they’ve “got the right model” with a true focus on the customer. Sensis has seen full year revenue growth rise 7.2% in 2008. They’ve also seen a 12% increase in the positive perception of the Yellow Pages.

Carol Johnson enthusiastically supported Sensis’ focus on the customer, stating their “ultimate vision is to be the trusted advisor.”

For the second year in a row Sensis brought a positive growth story to the YPA conference, proving again that growth in our industry is attainable and that one focus with flawless execution can produce stellar results.

Malcolm Gladwell Imagines A Digital World Where Paper Is Invented

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I’d like to echo Stephanie’s comments and others that I have heard and read praising Gladwell’s presentation and his ability to connect the messages in his best selling books to the real-time challenges and opportunities in the Yellow Pages industry.

One particular point he made really resonated with me and I’m sure with others. When asked his opinion about the future of print media Gladwell presented the following scenario – imagine that computers were invented 100 years ago and paper only yesterday. Then someone hands you a printed newspaper. You think – wow – this is really cool. I don’t need to charge it, plug it in, worry about batteries, can toss the sections I like in my bag, write on it, tear out articles and share them with friends … all for about 25 cents! You wouldn’t throw away your computer but you would appreciate the attributes of this new technology.

Bottom line, Yellow Pages should continue to embrace delivering leads regardless of platform but a media mix that doesn’t include traditional print advertising is simply not a complete mix.

Malcolm Gladwell Inspires on Tuesday Morning

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times best-selling author of Blink, Tipping Point and Outliers, mesmerized the YPA audience with his presentation this morning in San Diego.

Speaking to one of the largest Tuesday morning sessions in recent memory, Gladwell used the early days of radio to illustrate what one person with an idea, strong social connections and energy can accomplish.

He went on to describe how our industry is uniquely positioned with consumers as “information mavens” and what that could mean us for in terms of the future success of Yellow Pages.

Informal, entertaining and certainly thought-provoking, Gladwell proved to be the right speaker in the right place, at the right time!

Pat Nichols at Berry said, “Gladwell was outstanding. Kudos for a great choice.” Greg Sterling liked it too.

YPA Women’s Networking Reception

Monday, April 27, 2009

After a cloudy start, the sun came out in time for the fifth annual YPA Women’s Networking Reception, with special guests Carol Johnson, COO, and Jo Lynne Whiting, advisor, of Sensis Yellow and White Pages.

As usual the event was well-attended, with a lot of networking, storytelling and Tweeting going on.

Carol spoke briefly about the history of women in the Yellow Pages industry and the value of staying in touch year round to share our experiences. She and Jo Lynne took time to reflect on the changes in our industry and encouraged the group to continue to innovate and think globally.

Held at the Shoreline Restaurant, next to the marina, it was the perfect evening to share stories and swap business cards by the fire-pit.

Lisa Mahoney, Century Interactive, said she’s been attending for several years and it’s an event she really looks forward to.

Mary Jo Gleason was on hand catching up with former colleagues and Tat-Leong Sweeting, e-Page International, was on hand to discuss the innovative technology she’s demonstrating tomorrow during the break-out sessions.

YPA is fortunate to have so many strong, decisive women in our membership and we’re all looking forward to getting together again in Las Vegas next year.

Panel of Advertisers Say They Believe in Print

Monday, April 27, 2009

Charles Laughlin of the Kelsey Group moderated today’s insightful National Advertiser Panel, which featured Chris Borrink from Allied and North American Van Lines, Michael Strait of Telmetrics, Pat Vihtelic with Progressive Insurance, John Vitagliano of Meineke Car Care Centers, Inc and Elizabeth Young from ARS / Rescue Rooter.The panelists discussed a wide array of topics ranging from value perception to pay for performance. Chris Borrink was “bullish on print, remarking that it was the “bread and butter” of his business. John Vitagliano agreed saying “no one questions the value of the Yellow Pages.”

The panelists voiced that the medium is still an integral part of their marketing mix, and that increased tracking and measurement were key to ensuring a good ROI.

Many agreed that there is a perception issue surrounding product use, but that solid testing and reporting can be used to combat the argument that less dollars should be allocated to Yellow Pages advertising.

Panelists did have some suggestions for improvements, including bundling metrics into the total cost, increased split testing, and enhanced local support. However, the overall tone of the session was positive and the panelists emphasized that Yellow Pages is a key part of the growth and promotion of their business.