Archive for June, 2009

Consumers focus on their pets most in the summer

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The pet industry is a $45 billion retail industry. Consumers, especially women, love to spoil their pets whether it’s on grooming services or supplies- we’re always looking for the next way to show our furry friends we love them.

According to the 2009/2010 National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 71.4 million homes. The APPA shares, “growth in total pet spending has grown at a pace equal to or greater than most other retail segments and in many cases people will cut back in other areas sooner than cutting back on their pets.”

YPA data indicates that the months of July and August garner the highest frequency of pet searches with “Pet Grooming” seeing the most traction in July and “Pet Supplies & Foods” making its mark in August.

The goods are in the yellow.

The ROI on advertising in these headings is lucrative. Display ads in the “Pet Supplies & Foods” heading generate $18 in revenue for every $1 invested on Yellow Pages advertising.  Ads in the “Pet Grooming” heading generate $2 for every $1 invested.

Some interesting findings on who is searching pet headings:

“Pet Grooming”

  • Sees 58 million references per year, making it the 35th most frequently referenced heading
  • The most usage comes from 50-to-64 year-old women with incomes above $60,000
  • 86% of headings users are looking for a local groomer as opposed to a national chain
  • 41% of heading users end up choosing a groomer who they have previously never done business with

“Pet Supplies & Foods”

  • Sees about 23 million references per year
  • The most coming from 35-to-49 year-old women who have lived at their current address less than three years
  • 43% of all searches are for various pet accessories, such as leashes, harnesses, clothing, aquariums, and cat towers
  • The consumers searching this heading for pet food (22%) are usually looking for specialty dog food, such as biscuits or bones with no meat byproducts

The Buzz on Bing

Monday, June 29, 2009

In case you missed it – check out my piece on Bing and the IYP connection on Search Engine Land today. It’s already getting some interesting comments, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

As I report in the article: Following some quick search queries, I’ve been encouraged to note that Bing is already showing a healthy reliance on Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) like Yellowpages.com and others for its search results.  I think this provides great evidence that, in the larger pool of local search resources, a Yellow Pages referral carries a lot of weight – almost like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

As the competition among search engines (er, decision engines?) continues to intensify, I expect that the reputation of IYPs will only increase as a go-to source for credible business information. With decades of experience evaluating and supporting business-to-consumer interactions, we have the systems in place to ensure that online consumers will find the credible, reliable and locally-relevant information they seek.

To read more about my test drive with Bing, read my piece at Search Engine Land.

Twellow ‘Twitter Yellow Pages’ Brand Leaves Room for Distinction

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More and more, people are asking me what I think about Twellow, the “Twitter Yellow Pages.” I get quite a few questions on Twellow’s role in search and how it affects what we do.

If you haven’t seen Twellow yet, take a few minutes to check it out. Twellow helps you find people on Twitter that you might be interested in following.

I think questions over Twellow stem from its name and approach. Twellow borrows heavily on our brand. And, much like the way we list businesses, Twellow breaks out its listings into categories – or headings.

But that’s where the similarities end. Twellow’s scope right now is very specific. It helps empower social networking by connecting searchers with relevant Twitter accounts. There’s certainly a lot of benefit in that, and Twellow has helped me find some interesting people to watch on Twitter. What Twellow isn’t, at least for now, is a local search tool. You can’t, for example, narrow your search to a specific business type within a city or zip code and expect to find the business you’re looking for.

That’s today of course. While Twitter has become the focal point of the political news, there’s still valid questions around Twitter’s future role in local search. Twellow could potentially tap into that if or when Twitter becomes a real force. As these trends unfold, our role will be to interpret these changes for small businesses, who struggle to make sense of it all, and help incorporate them into their marketing mix if it would deliver quality leads.

Quality Over Quantity Will Reduce Small Business Ad Churn

Monday, June 22, 2009

You may have read about the recent Borrell report that found high turnover with small businesses who try out an online local search ad buy. If you haven’t, this Wall Street Street Journal blog gave a good synopsis of the report.

Today’s media environment provides small businesses with a large number of metrics that are both overwhelming and confusing. Reach, frequency, and gross ratings points are all metrics that advertisers have relied upon in the past to help measure the effectiveness of their advertising. For many businesses, these metrics have given way to clicks and calls which are more measureable and can be directly tied to lead generation.

However, even clicks and calls can be misleading. Generating qualified leads can be a moving target and that’s why you see such a high turnover rate reported in the Borrell report.

Targeted marketing has been the holy grail for many years and is the primary reason why direct mail is the No. 1 medium in terms of revenue. However, true targeted marketing can only be achieved when it is driven by the consumer, not by the medium. So media such as the Internet, Yellow Pages, Craig’s list, and classified Newspaper advertising are examples of buyers looking for sellers, not sellers seeking out buyers.

But if these searchers do not find what they are looking for, a qualified lead is wasted. That’s why today’s media need to provide relevant results that solve an immediate need-quality over quantity will help the consumer save time and will result in a transaction. Small businesses need to keep this in mind when developing their marketing strategies. This will result in informed buying decisions which will mean lower advertiser turnover.

Yellow Pages Group Launches Custom Delivery and ecoGuide

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yellow Pages Group (YPG) in Canada made two big announcements this week that I think are worth highlighting for those interested in the industry’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

Custom Delivery Program
Yesterday, YPG announced it is launching a new Custom Delivery Program in which consumers can increase the number of copies of print Yellow Pages directories they want, select which of the directories available in their area they want to receive, or remove their name from the distribution list.

The program can be accessed online or by contacting YPG at 1-800-268-5637.

Yellow Pages ecoGuide
YPG is adding to its print directories a Yellow Pages ecoGuide to help consumers properly dispose of materials and limit the environmental impact of their homes.

YPG found about one-third of Canadians don’t know how to dispose of certain items like electronic devices, personal computers, appliances and tires. Now, information on how to do that can be found in the new Yellow Pages ecoGuide, which YPG developed in collaboration with Earth Day Canada, Équiterre and Green Communities Canada, as well as local municipalities and recycling councils.

The Yellow Pages ecoGuide also offers a number of tips to help consumers reduce their environmental footprint ranging from light bulb usage to heating and cooling advice. According to YPG’s fact sheet, if every household in Toronto followed these 15 tips, it would save:

  • 878 million liters of fuel, saving enough fuel to fill 4 large oil tankers.
  • 1.3 billion kWh of electricity, saving enough electricity to power 8,000 homes for an entire year.
  • 241 million kg of solid waste, saving enough waste to fill nearly 10,000 garbage trucks.
  • 3.5 billion tons of Greenhouse Gases, which is the same as removing 480,000 mid-sized cars from the roads.
  • 28 billion liters of water, saving enough to fill 5,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • $528 million.

I hope all of our Canadian directory users take a look at the ecoGuide when it comes out beginning this month.

YPG has a robust environmental program that includes a number of other ongoing initiatives that you can read about too.

Forbes.com: Not Ma Bell’s Yellow Pages

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Forbes.com posted a story today that previews a next-generation Yellowpages.com offering built for an under-30, social networking-oriented audience:

Later this year, AT&T plans to roll out an alternative brand for local search, geared primarily at younger users. The site will feature the same core data – listings and advertiser information – as Yellowpages.com, but differ in how it presents information and how it uses user-submitted information. While Yellowpages.com returns data based on advertisers’ profiles, similar to a directory, the new site will prioritize results based on a user’s social connections and recommendations, says Yoo.

Forbes.com says that AT&T advertising solutions unit, which includes its Yellow Pages business, generated $1.3 billion in revenue in the first quarter of the year, employs more than 5,000 salespeople to help businesses reach these consumers, and attracts between 21 million and 30 million unique visitors a month to YellowPages.com.

Take a couple of minutes and read the full story. It’s great that Forbes is recognizing change in our industry, especially innovation that’s tied into important social networking trends.

Experts Rate IYP Listings High for Boosting Google and Yahoo Local Rankings

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Here’s an interesting survey on the factors that influence a local business’ ranking in major search engines.

The Local Search Ranking Factors survey asked 27 experts to rate the importance of 41 different criteria that could impact a business’ ranking in search engine results. The experts said that major data providers and Internet Yellow Pages sites are the second-most influential factor in determining those rankings.

Superpages.com and Yellowpages.com were two providers mentioned by respondents as being most important.

We’ve been saying for a while that a strong presence in Internet Yellow Pages directories makes good sense if you want customers to find you online. That’s because Internet Yellow Pages sites are trusted sources of information for search engines like Google and Yahoo. Bing, as blogged about here recently, features listings YellowPages.com.

Here are a couple of quotes from experts who completed the survey:

  • “Being listed in the right directory or online Yellow Pages can make the difference between #1 and not listed.”
  • “This is still the single most important factor to local search rankings in my opinion.”
  • “I think this has the biggest effect after location.”
  • “These are powerful. It seems they are more powerful than business owner supplied information in Google.”

I imagine that the typical small business doesn’t know what a search engine algorithm is. Yellow Pages companies have been working to help small businesses address this by taking on the role of marketing consultant. Search engine optimization and effective Internet Yellow Pages listings are certainly part that consulting process.

In the past, we’ve also discussed how listing local numbers in Yellow Pages do a better job at attracting customers than toll-free numbers do. It turns out there could be a dual purpose for listing a local number. Some of the experts in the survey expressed concern about how an 800 number without a corresponding local number might impact search engine rankings.

One even said, in all caps: “I would NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE AN 800 NUMBER!”

Bing Claims Cure for Search Overload

Thursday, June 11, 2009

You’ve probably heard some of the buzz about Bing, Microsoft’s new “decision engine” that is being positioned as a major competitor to Google and Yahoo. The name is snappy and some early numbers show Bing is starting off strong.

These early gains may be helped by Microsoft’s $100 million ad campaign focused on “search overload syndrome.” I found the first commercial intriguing and attention grabbing, and the notion of “search overload” resonated with me. We know from our own business that there is more information than ever out there and searchers need simple, fast, and reliable solutions to pinpoint what they’re looking for.

As a Yellow Pages person, I wanted to test how Bing is using our listings in these early days. I quickly discovered that YellowPages.com is heavily integrated into Bing’s local search capabilities – no surprise that the folks at Microsoft would turn to our industry to help build a reliable capability there.

I started with a search for “New York arts and crafts stores” and the first result was a list of five local crafts stores plotted on a map, very similar to the local results you get with Google. I clicked on the full listings link and received more detailed information with two sponsored listings from YellowPages.com right on top.

Then I did a search for “driving schools Kansas City, MO” and found a very similar result, with YellowPages.com sponsored listings leading the results.

If you go to Bing’s local search portal page, you’ll see the YellowPages.com branding sits right at the top.

This is great integration with Bing, and given its desire to be a decision engine, it makes perfect sense. We’ve long been a decision engine for consumers needing to find a local business.

It’s hard to say whether we’ll “Bing” a search term rather than “Google” it any time soon, but we already know that the way people search and access information online is always changing. And if Bing is poised to change the game, Yellow Pages local sales teams will play an important role in helping small businesses make sense of that change.

Meet Some of Our Newest Members

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Even in a challenging economy, Yellow Pages Association continues to add new members, and we thought you might like an opportunity to meet our most recent additions:

  • R.O.I. Media LLC – is a Certified Marketing Representative offering yellow pages advertising for its clients.
  • The Maytum Company (Pub) located in New York, is the publisher of the DFT Communications directory. Maytum offers a full range of advertising and public relations expertise.
  • ePage International Pte Ltd. – an Associate member, located in Singapore, ePage International has developed a new digital publishing medium with some very advanced digital publishing solutions for publishers who seek to supplement their print and web publishing models. ePage International demonstrated at our conference and we used ePage’s publishing model to display our agenda in San Diego.

To learn more about the benefits of membership or to join us, please contact Cindi Aldrich, membership director.

YPA Joins With Kelsey for DMS ‘09

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Kelsey Group’s Directional Media Strategies (DMS) conference is always a big highlight of each year, offering a tremendous opportunity for the Yellow Pages industry to connect, engage, address key issues and share innovations.

For that reason, I am very pleased to note our decision to partner with Kelsey this year to host DMS ’09, which will be the Group’s 30th conference dedicated to the future of the Yellow Pages industry.

By co-planning and promoting the event, I believe that Kelsey and YPA will bring a comprehensive cross-section of the industry together – publishers, clients, CMRs, resellers and suppliers – for meaningful dialogue about how to navigate through the current economy and face the future through innovation, technology and business basics.

As always, the line up will include some of the biggest and brightest thinkers in this space. Just a quick review of sponsors, including 3L System Group, Acxiom, AgendiZe, Local.com, MapCreator, Marchex and Telmetrics, leads me to believe that there will be plenty of innovations to discuss.

I hope that you will attend. Feel free to reach out if you have ideas about speakers or topics that interest you.

DMS ’09 will take place September 22-24, 2009, in Orlando, Fla. For more information about the conference, including the complete agenda, please visit: www.kelseygroup.com/DMS2009.