Archive for August, 2009

Look Who’s Talking … at Kelsey DMS09: September 22 – 24, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Kelsey Directional Media Strategies 2009 (DMS ’09) conference in Orlando is rapidly approaching and the discounted rate for registration expires on Monday, August 31.

Kelsey meetings always feature great speakers.  In the past they’ve had leaders from Avis, ServiceMaster, AT&T, Yell Group, Idearc, Cox Enterprises, Yellow Pages Group and so many more. This year is no exception, the agenda is packed.

A short list includes:

And so many other speakers with experience who know the market and are re-imagining our industry. You really can’t afford to miss this, so register now, before August 31, to receive the discounted rate.

Hope to see you there!

Microhoo Changes Local Search Landscape for Small Biz

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In this month’s Search Engine Land “Locals Only” column, I take a look at the impact the Microsoft and Yahoo! search alliance might have on local search.

With “Microhoo” official, the local search landscape for small business is changing – again. While Google maintains approximately 65 percent of the U.S. search market, the alliance between Microsoft and Yahoo make Microhoo, with Microsoft’s Bing search tool, the definitive No. 2 in the local search space.

For local search, implications include:

  • Local businesses will need to consider how they can optimize their content for both engines.
  • Making decisions about where to place Internet advertisements and sponsored key words will become more complicated.
  • Consumers may decide to visit multiple engines before buying.

The bottom line is that the local search space continues to evolve, and competition will mean new opportunities and new challenges. We must help our small business advertisers stay on top of these opportunities, because Yellow Pages representatives are one of the few personal contacts most of them have to understand the evolving local search space.

Catch a Flick With DexKnows.com

Monday, August 24, 2009

Internet Yellow Pages sites are continuing to identify ways to make local search more convenient. R.H. Donnelley announced today a new partnership with Tribune Media Services, Inc. to offer searchable movie data – including showtimes, theaters, ratings and reviews and more — on DexKnows.com.

In its news release, R.H. Donnelley said that the deal also brings advance movie ticket purchase functionality to DexKnows.com by way of Fandango, the nation’s leading movie ticketing destination.

Movie information and ticket purchasing is available on DexKnows.com as well as the mobile site (m.dexknows.com) and mobile app, available for download for the iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, and other smart phones.

Deborah Eldred at R.H. Donnelley compared the partnership to “mixing butter and popcorn.”

I gave the new feature a test run. I typed in “movie theaters” and a Las Vegas zip code in the search box.

DexKnows.com quickly generated a list of nearby theaters, indicating which it offered showtimes and which offered online ticketing. When I clicked on a show time of interest, it forwarded me quickly to Fandago to buy the ticket. It all worked together seamlessly.

Of course, there are a number of sites out there to find movie information, so the added power in incorporating this feature into DexKnows.com is that it further centralizes the local information consumers need. Instead of visiting one site to find a nearby restaurant, another to find a movie, and a third for an after movie dessert – you can locate it all in one spot.

For advertisers, this feature delivers added value and more sales leads – exactly what they need in a tough economy.

I give this deal five stars and a big thumbs up!

WhitePages.com CEO: White Pages Opt-In Shouldn’t Apply to Yellow Pages

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

If you’ve been reading the news over the last few days, you’ve seen a good amount of discussion on the future of the residential white pages.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution yesterday covered AT&T’s plan for opt-in residential white pages in parts of Georgia.

That news followed on the heels of a survey from the online residential information provider WhitePages.com that found the majority of consumers embrace opt-in residential white pages programs.

The WhitePages.com survey prompted some people to ask if the same applied to Yellow Pages. WhitePages.com CEO Alex Algard responded quickly with a guest post on Greg Sterling’s blog that clarifies his thinking on the issue.

In his opinion, Algard does not believe Yellow Pages “will or should” embrace opt-in for the following reasons:

  • Yellow Pages are a proven means of local advertising for small businesses across the country.
  • Without access to Yellow Pages, a small business’ ability to attract new customers suffers, thus greatly impacting their ability to generate revenue.
  • Yellow Pages play a useful role for consumers, as there is rich content (sometimes richer than what is available online), the listings are generally up-to-date, and the coverage of listings is generally comprehensive.
  • There is a viable financial model for Yellow Pages that supports an entire industry.

I applaud Algard for clarifying this position on Greg’s blog. Residential white pages and Yellow Pages are fundamentally different tools that serve different purposes. And the reasons for falling usage of residential white pages – namely, the increase in unlisted cell phone numbers and the information storage capabilities of mobile phones and handsets – don’t necessarily translate to Yellow Pages.

That said, we recognize consumer behaviors are changing and the challenges small businesses face are getting tougher.

For our advertisers, we continue to generate one of the best return on investments of any advertising medium and have tools in place to help measure that, such as our metered ad program. Yellow Pages advertising offers businesses more for their money by generating an average sales ROI of 27:1 for national display advertisers and nearly 13:1 for local display advertisers. No other advertising medium can offer this unmatched ROI for display advertising.

To address changing local search preferences, we offer digital and mobile search platforms, in addition to print. We also have launched www.yellowpagesoptout.com to make it easy and effective for consumers to manage the delivery of Yellow Pages to their doorsteps. But even as we’re focusing more than ever on consumer choice, we think it’s important to recognize that the value of print Yellow Pages directories to both businesses and consumers is still very, very high.

Yellow Pages Industry Launches Yellowpagesoptout.com

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I hope you saw our news release today in conjunction with the Association of Directory Publishers (ADP) announcing our official launch of yellowpagesoptout.com, to help consumers simply and effectively stop directory delivery or adjust the number of directories they receive.

Yellowpagesoptout.com aggregates delivery information for Yellow Pages publishers in one place. Users type in their zip code and receive a list of local publishers with the appropriate steps to stop delivery or adjust the number of directory products they receive. We had a soft launch of the site in January. Since then, we have been making improvements to the interface and further building out the publisher database.

The launch of this site is an important step forward in our effort to meet consumer interest in customizing what gets delivered to their doorsteps. Our research shows that the vast majority of households want to receive at least one print directory – no surprise, since print usage is still strong. With that in mind, a critical objective of yellowpagesoptout.com is to let consumers decide to continue receiving all directory products available in their area, keep some but not others, or stop all directory deliveries.

Over the past year or so, a number of third-party Web sites not affiliated with Yellow Pages or telephone companies have begun offering to add consumers to do not deliver lists on their behalf. We suggest using caution when providing personal information to these Web sites. Consumers should work directly with publishers to stop delivery of print directories, and yellowpagesoptout.com is an easy starting point in that process.

On a related note, we also recently reorganized our environmental Web site. It’s critical that we tell our sustainability story better. There is too much misconception among consumers about how print directories are made. It’s important that people know that directory production is done in a sustainable way and that no trees are cut down for the sole purpose of publishing directories. In addition to our site, Yellow Pages companies also offer on their sites good data on the sustainable production process.

Even with the launch of yellowpagesoptout.com, our work is not done. The site will evolve – we will continue adding publisher information and new features over time. We will also continue to work with publishers to ensure that stop delivery requests are consistently honored. There’s more to do, but I’m very excited by the progress we’re making.

Telmetrics: Pay for Performance Advertising Shows Dramatic Growth

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I invited Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics Inc., to author a guest blog today about the growth of pay for performance advertising:

This year we have seen explosive growth in the number of pay per call programs we are tracking and noted three driving trends in a press release last week. While the increase is from both print and online worlds, the most dramatic growth is with Yellow Pages.

Yellow Pages embraced call tracking and the importance of performance early on. But in today’s economic environment, advertisers are demanding even greater performance visibility. Enter pay per call. The growth we are seeing echoes what AT&T’s Frank Jules and The Berry Company’s Scott Pomeroy shared in the recent Simba webinar on the state of the yellow pages – pay per call is on the rise.

Yellow Pages usage is not dead, as many would like to report, and pay per call growth, especially among heading strongholds like “Attorneys” and “Dentists” is proof. These advertisers value the high-quality leads that Yellow Pages deliver and are happy to pay for calls.

To help publishers more easily monetize this growing trend, we have added new pay per call features – a billing ceiling rollover which can cap advertising spend and bank unused funds to ensure the full cost of the ad.

Stay tuned – we expect pay per call to continue as a high-growth revenue reality.

Report Suggests Different Usage of Companion Directories

Friday, August 7, 2009

A just released report on companion directories from CRM Associates has some rather interesting results. Like most people out there, when companions were first introduced I thought the purpose was to extend the reach of the core directory by having additional copies, albeit smaller ones, that could be placed in other locations, i.e., the car, another room in the house, etc. I also surmised that these books would be used in a similar, if not identical, fashion to the core mother book. Well think again.

With the exception of three headings: Auto Parts-Used, Pizza, and Auto Rentals, the top 15 call-volume headings are different for the Companion/Plus directories than for the primary directories. See the table below.

The fact that the heading rankings are so different suggests a different pattern of usage and shopping applications for companion/plus directories than for the primary directories.

Top Headings – Primary Directories

1 Auto Parts & Supplies Used & Rebuilt
2 Appliances Major Supplies Parts
3 Junk Dealers
4 Auto Wrecking & Used Parts
5 Casinos
6 Credit Unions
7 Pizza
8 Ladders
9 Auto Renting & Leasing
10 License Services
11 Taxicabs
12 Tire Dealers
13 Bakers
14 Tourism
15 Hobby Model Shops

Top Headings – Companion/Plus Directories

1 Auto Parts & Supplies Used & Rebuilt
2 Pawnbrokers
3 Oils Fuel
4 Auto Renting & Leasing
5 Loans
6 Internet Services
7 Pizza
8 Physicians & Surgeons Gynecology & Obstetrics
9 Cellular & Wireless Phones & Service
10 Appliances Household Major Dealers
11 Chimney & Fireplace Cleaning & Repair
12 Glass Auto Plate Window Etc
13 Health Clubs
14 Auto Parts & Supplies New
15 Optical Goods

comScore Presents on Internet Yellow Pages

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Last week, Elizabeth Emmart at comScore conducted a webinar on the state of internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and local search.

There were two graphs in the presentation that particularly piqued my interest: the percent increase in web searchers and the number of result pages viewed.

Although the absolute number of General Web Searchers (167 million) and Local Web Searchers (160 million) was larger than the number of IYP/Local Web Searchers (88 million) in December 2008, the actual percent increase year over year for IYP searchers was 21%. This exceeded both the increase for general web searchers (16%) and local web searchers (20%).

This is a strong indication that IYPs are not just holding their own in the local search space, but actually growing their user base at a faster rate than its more-hyped competitors.

The second graph that I found interesting showed total result pages for the various types of search engines. comScore referred to this as a measure of “engagement.”

For the period December 2007 to December 2008, General Search increased 52%, local portal search increased 60% and IYP increased 30%. So on the face of it, IYP looks to be far behind the other search alternatives. However, the question is whether this is a measure of “engagement” or really a measure of “frustration”?

Is it better to have a bigger number or a smaller number? A bigger number means that people are spending more time on the site because they are looking at more pages, but does this mean they are truly engaged or they simply cannot find what they are looking for and therefore continue to look at more pages.

One can make the case that that people going to an IYP site are motivated buyers and already know what they are looking for. Therefore, they don’t look at as many pages because they are able to make their decision more quickly. So, in this instance, a lower number of page views are preferable.

We’ll continue to watch Internet Yellow Pages data closely, as represents such a fast-growing segment of our business.