Archive for September, 2009

Linking Calls to the Source

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

An article posted by Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics, on Search Engine Land, addresses one of the recurring problems confronting Yellow Pages – how can we track the specific search engine, Web page or keyword that generated an inbound phone call using tracking numbers?

The answer is Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) which can measure the performance of online advertising campaigns and the impact on call volume. At the most basic level, DNI seamlessly replaces select contact phone numbers on a web page with call tracking numbers, which allows advertisers to measure volume. Combined with pay per click programs, DNI can help complete the online advertising performance picture by clearly outlining the results of advertising campaigns both online and by phone.

The overall benefits of DNI are simple: DNI provides advertisers greater visibility to the source of inbound calls and allows advertisers to track the performance of specific ads and/or keywords. With the ability to capture the full value of online advertising initiatives adding call counts to the traditional click count approach to online campaign performance, advertisers can optimize their spend and move underperforming keyword-search engine ad buys to more successful combinations.

Kelsey DMS ’09 Round-Up

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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From the opening “Clients Only Session” presented by the key analysts at The Kelsey Group, through a variety of speakers and panelists challenging the current mindset about the Yellow Pages industry, DMS ’09 was well worth the trip.

Orlando may have been hot and humid, but the atmosphere in the ballroom at the Hyatt Grand Cypress was a breath of fresh air.

Straight talk, and lots of it, about the future of the YP industry, the impact of media fragmentation, the explosion of social media, the newest technology supporting search, how to measure, how to sell, how to compensate and most of all, where it’s all headed.

Donat Retif, CEO of Truvo, put it succinctly: “Get prepared to take advantage of the economic recovery and recognize we will be operating in a changed world.”

Take a tour of our blog postings over this past week, offering daily coverage of the conference, to get a glimpse of the highlights.

And don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face networking.  There was a whole lot of talking going on at the receptions, dinners and in just about every quiet corner of the hotel.  As Neal Polachek advised attendees, “You need to get 20 business cards to prove the ROI to your boss.”  Or as Sebastien Provencher, The Praized Blog added, “or 20 Linked-In connections.”  Most folks walked away with at least 20.

The YPA staff covered a lot of ground, but we couldn’t blog about all of the speakers.  So don’t forget that Kelsey will be presenting ILM:09 in Los Angeles, December 9-11.  It’s one more opportunity to meet and network with industry players.

As Kelsey puts it: “ILM:09 focuses on the rapid innovation in local online, search and mobile – the Web’s ‘last frontier.’ BIA/ Kelsey projects that these areas will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue.”

And mark your calendar for YPA’s 2010 Conference – “Transformers”, April 17-20 at Paris! Hotel, Las Vegas.  We’ll be sending out more information about it soon!

Print Yellow Pages 2012: Critical Changes to the Core Product

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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For anyone who believes print is no longer viable, today’s panelists made a strong case for not just the current state of their products, but the future as well.  From the multiple-platform suite of products provided by Sensis to the finely targeted, hyperlocal directories delivered by HomePages Directories, there is strong growth to be had…providing your business model is focused and disciplined.

Michelle Sherwood, Sensis General Manager Marketing, kicked off her presentation with a “consumer on the street” video clearly demonstrating the variety of ways that customers use Sensis products to find solutions.  She went on to say that their business model is a simple one – Usage drives ROI, drives Stockholder value.

This model has worked, generating continued, sustained growth over the past few years.  With services that are easily accessible and a strong network approach, they are able to provide buyers with even more choice – including a new iPhone app that is the number three pick of Australian consumers.

Sherwood also pointed out that the ROI debate must shift to leads as the currency of local search, “real leads, not clicks”.  And that Sensis has embraced the “loud” approach to communicating the value of their products to consumers, advertisers and analysts.

Abe Andrzejewski, CEO of American Marketing & Publishing LLC/HomePages Directories, followed with an equally compelling story about their journey to success as “a neighborhood/hometown directory – hyperlocal books.”

Andrsejewski suggested that the future of print Yellow Pages is a geo-relevant book, providing strong growth in existing footprints and challenging online and over-scoped directories.  In other words, he observed, books with “deep, relevant contact and an absence of irrelevant content coupled with community information at the most local level.”

He advised the group that well-developed local books create the aura of in-group loyalty based on use by consumers and for merchants the opportunity to participate for a low rate, making them a costly mistake to pass up.

HomePages’ sales force has evolved into a highly disciplined, tightly focused group because “a confused sales rep is an ineffectual sales rep – and a confused merchant never buys.”

Abe believes that consumers are currently challenged by the absence of a single dominant, hyperlocal destination for geo-relevant content – and intends HomePages to fill that void.

Strong results bolster both the Sensis and HomePages approach and both groups continue to work to meet the needs of consumers and advertisers.

Truvo CEO Donat Rétif Energizes DMS ‘09 with Insights & Updates from Europe

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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While DMS tends to focus on the North American marketplace, one great perks is the opportunity it offers to network and share notes with the many participants it attracts from around the world.  Along these lines, participants were excited to kick off day three of DMS ’09 with some exciting and “refreshingly candid” updates on things happening in Europe from Truvo CEO Donat Rétif.

Rétif is unique in that he built his industry experience on both sides of the Atlantic, including posts at Verizon and Belgium’s Promedia, before joining Truvo in 2008.  He offers an informed point of view, as someone “who loves this industry and owes much of my personal success to print” but still makes unflinching statements like: “If we think we can do this business the same as we have for the last 30 years, we’re going to die.”

Under his direction, Truvo – a local search and advertising company serving six markets across Europe – has made some interesting strides and bold steps in its attempt to navigate through the global economic downturn and become “the first choice in local search and advertising.”

Here are a few of the key ideas Donat shared at DMS ‘09:

Perceptions, Expectations & Brand Equity

One of the most interesting moves Truvo made was to take steps away from the Yellow Pages brand.  On this point, Donat talked about perception research findings: “Outside the industry, the perception of the Yellow Pages brand is that it’s for old-fashioned people who don’t know what’s going on.  The perception of digital, on the other hand, is of young people who are totally clued in to what’s going on.  This may or may not be true, but we have to acknowledge the perceptions.”

Not to say that the Yellow Pages brand doesn’t still have strong equity.  The Yellow Pages are still strongly associated with being “dependable”, “comprehensive” and “trusted”.   “When the rep says I’m from the Yellow Pages, it still opens the door,” said Donat.

This insight guided Truvo’s strategy to introduce an umbrella of platforms under the Truvo brand.  With the strategic objective of creating integrated platforms across various media with increased user-generated content, the company chose to depart from the brand heritage.

“People don’t go to Yellow Pages sites to add content,” he said. “They go to a user-generated content site – like Yelp! in the US, for example – to add content.  Truvo was launched to be the umbrella for all our new platforms.  There is a light link to YPs but we emphasize the Truvo brand.”

Local Content, Universal Business Trends

Another surprising point of discussion was Donat’s assessment that: “YP is a very local business.  But actually, we are seeing all of our markets converge to the same points, with less local differentiation.”

Those points of convergence include a fast decline in print sales and double digit growth in online search.  Across the company, revenue is 73% print / 27% digital, but Donat said he expects that ratio to reach 50:40 by next year.

Giving People What They Want

Donat echoed other sessions’ observations about the changing needs of user and advertisers, but added his own touch.  “Google has won the battle for usage,” he said.  “But beyond Google, users want simple, fast, rich search results that they can access across multiple access points.  They don’t want to just tap into the content, but also personalize it and add their own.”

Being Everywhere

Finally, Donat emphasized the great opportunities that exist by expanding beyond proprietary directories.  The future is about access, he said.  The Truvo model provides integrated content across owned properties (print, online and wireless Yellow Pages and White Pages) and third-party properties (search engines, social networks and syndication partners).   “We own a tremendous volume of content,” he said, “We just need to get it out across multiple platforms”.

YPA and Kelsey on Day Two Takeaways

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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Neg Norton of YPA and John Kelsey of BIA/Kelsey opened up the morning with some thoughts on key take aways from day two.

John: Brought up a quote he heard last year: “We’re spending too much time defending ourselves against misperceptions and not enough time growing the business.” Felt that was probably more true last year. Really likes the fact that our focus is increasingly on the future. We talked a lot about the best sales people yesterday. Another point from last year, “it’s not the bundle that we want to sell, it’s the bundle the customer wants to buy.” We have to keep that in mind.

Neg: Almost all the panelists in the leadership session looked at predictions for 2014 said that many of them are happening now, not in 2014.

John: Absolutely true. Pace of change is accelerating. Dave Swanson gave an eloquent and moving presentation. He said it’s our own execution as well. The shiny new gadgets (digital) were overpromised and underdelivered. But the worst is behind us and opportunities are there for the future.

Neg: Agreed. It was one of the best speeches he ever heard Dave Swanson give. Many publishers have been guilty of product selling instead of value selling. Another interesting takeaway was the vertical piece – geoverticals in healthcare, automotive, and home services. Also felt that R.H. Donnelley’s discussion about ensuring high-quality customer touch points were very important.

John: The fundamental proposition of this business is very strong. Yellow Pages isn’t dead, it’s just changing. It’s important for us to talk about multiplatform opportunities.

Neg: Offered the final thought that mobile is here. Expressed interest in the possibility of incremental usage from mobile and said that is certainly speaks to the point about multiplatform.

Top Tweets: #DMS09 Day Two

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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The tweets at #DMS09 on day two kept rolling.

Best Tweet on Yellow Pages’ Strengths

matterslocal: Neg Norton says you have got to look at the conversions implying on IYP’s it is better, we’ve got to get that message out /gg #DMS09

matterslocal: RHD feels the worse is behind us, processes working, culture melding, learned how to market and deliver online products /gg #DMS09

 

Top Thoughts on Industry Best Practices & Avenues for Growth

vikc: Co.’s like #MerchantCircle, #YellowBot, #GetFave, #Marchex and #CitySearch (among others) are in a great spot – #DMS09

matterslocal: We must get better at multi-platform offerings, selling on value, leveraging our relaionships /gg #DMS09

localseoguide: Local interactive media = $14B Ad Spend according to David Krantz of AT&T #DMS09

 

Best SEO Tips for Small Businesses

matterslocal: localSEOGuide: local video seo is the easiest way to get ranked, but they don’t convert well /gg #DMS09

matterslocal: LocalSEOGuide: Your sales team needs to be educated on how to collect content as part of the sales process. /gg #DMS09

matterslocal: eLocalListings: You can’t count on busienss owners to contribute content, you need to collect it from them /gg #DMS09

 

Best Facts & Forecasts on Local Mobile & Social Solutions

matterslocal: AT&T: Local Mobile Data Usage is 3rd, behind email and weather /gg #DMS09

localseoguide: “We have a really neat brand and URL that we’re going to launch” -heavy on social – David Krantz of AT&T #DMS09

localseoguide: I am thinking if AT&T launches a Yelp competitor and backs it with a huge ad budget it could do something #DMS09

 

Best wise-cracks ;)

toddleiser: :-) RT @sebprovencher: “everybody walk away with 20 business cards”-J Kelsey Can I walk away with 20 new Linkedin contacts instead? #dms09

vikc: I love how these SEO guys are dressed down…. #DMS09

AT&T Interactive’s David Krantz Talks Mobile-Local and Social-Local

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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Featured speaker David Krantz, president of AT&T Interactive, wrapped-up day two of DMS ’09 with a quick peek into how the major market player envisions the future of interactive Yellow Pages.

Two key words: Mobile and Social.

In mobile, David conveyed a bullish view of the market, mentioning that AT&T is currently keeping an eye out for talent and strategic partnerships.  Responding to earlier discussions about what it takes to develop an effective app, he reminded the audience that the market is not just for iPhone users.

“To be truly effective and wide-reaching, applications should work across all device platforms – from iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Pre-Loads and WAP,” he said.  This challenge may be eliminated over time as standardization is introduced to the market.

Also – after two days of little discussion about social media, David’s address indicated that local search applications for social media – or “Social-Local” solutions – are on the horizon.

Noting that Facebook and YouTube have now exceeded Yahoo! and Google in page views, he observed that social media is inherently local.  A new generation of “Echo-boomers” have emerged he said that are characterized by three traits: 1) they prefer personalized media, 2) they like to create & interact, and 3) They trust their peers – sometimes more than they trust traditional “experts.”

To meet the needs of these new consumers, David noted that “The context of trust is imperative.”  Who and how much to trust varies dramatically based on what prompts a user to tap his or her network – e.g. the purchase of a sportscar vs. a cappuccino .

The key to getting social-local right is understanding how to participate without interrupting.  David couldn’t share more, but he said: “Stay tuned for more info in this space.”

Industry Players Weigh Business Models for Mobile Search

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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The always hot topic of mobile search was discussed this afternoon during the session “Mobile Search and Yellow Pages: The Business Model”, moderated by Mike Boland, Senior Analyst and Program Director, Mobile Local Media at BIA Kelsey.

Following yesterday’s discussion of mobile apps, today’s session took a deeper look into the business of mobile local search.  Panelists discussed what their companies are doing in this space, and offered insights into how their businesses are operating and monetizing mobile local search.

Deborah Eldred, director of mobile and personalization at R.H. Donnelley, highlighted the explosion of smart phone growth and the increased reach of mobile Web. More and more people are accessing the Web on their mobile devices, and Deborah explained that “mobile makes sense for local search companies.” It drives engagement and leads, and brings sellers customers that are ready to buy, and ready to buy right now.

Peter Schwab, director, mobile products at Idearc Media, shared his top ten list for what Idearc is doing to drive revenue with their mobile products. Peter emphasized the importance of experimenting as mobile grows.  He suggested that mobile apps giving users a voice, such as the ability to add reviews from the mobile device not just read them.

Min Chan, GM and director mobile products at AT&T Interactive, shared his strategy for engaging consumers, stating that systems must be built around the themes of content, context, and contact.  Contact is important and can be achieved by offering the capability to share information or reach out to businesses directly

Rounding out the panel was David Pearce, head of mobile services, Yell Group, which brought an international perspective. He emphasized that “mobile is now a mainstream digital channel and mobile local search will be more than a search box.” David discussed the power of using an app store. Only one week after Yell’s app went up on the UK iTunes app store, it was the top free app in its category and had garnered 90,00 searches.

The mobile local search space is clearly a valuable and exciting opportunity for business to take advantage of.  YP is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this space, and can provide real value to both advertisers and consumers by connecting buyers and sellers immediately.

SEO Doctors Share Success Strategies for IYPs

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Every small business wants to rank on the first page of Google. But how do you do it?  In an afternoon panel at DMS ’09, Kelsey’s Michael Boland plied a panel of SEO/SEM experts with questions to get their thoughts on best SEO practices for IYPs.  Here are some of their tips:

  • Tags, Not Taxonomy: Search results are completely dependent on tags, which don’t follow the same hierarchy that headings categories do.  Actually, with tags – there is no hierarchy.  “The key to getting SEO right is to understand that we’re not reproducing the book experience online anymore,” said Sean Morrow from MyVirtualPaper.  “The tag system is a departure from our traditional products, and figuring out how to break away from our legacy business is key.  The consumer needs to be able to search on IYPs the same way they search in search engines.”
  • Keep It Fresh: Search engine crawlers are trolling every day, changing the rankings in real-time.  WebVisible’s Todd Bernard says that the “Set it and forget it” concept is completely outdated. “You have to update constantly to stay relevant.”
  • Content is Key: The panel emphasized that user-generated content like ratings and reviews are important, but merchant-generated content is too.  LocalSEOGuide consultant and blogger Andrew Shortland points to MerchantCircle as an example.  “They’ve done a great job getting merchants to generate content, and once they populate profiles with user/business-generated content, they really know how to optimize it for search.”
  • Don’t Underestimate the Power of Video: Video content seems like the newest fad, but don’t underestimate the bang it can add to your search rank.  Video content can make the difference between fifth page and first.  According to eLocal Listing’s Steve Espinosa, who’s company helped achieve 130,000 active views last year, video platforms like YouTube can be one of the most powerful means to raise an SEO ranking.  “We’ve seen a 3.1x increase in the conversion rate for properties with videos compared to those that don’t have video,” he said.

And a parting message to Internet Yellow Pages from Andrew: “You should be embracing the idea of putting your content on other properties.  IYPs really need to think about not being so proprietary about your data and getting it out there.  This is the best way to get to page one of Google.”

Fixing the Yellow Pages Business Model

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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Pay per call and sales force training were two common themes discussed in this afternoon’s “Fixing the Yellow Pages Business Model.”

RH Donnelly Senior Vice President Mike Boyce kicked it off with some telling research. Advertisers told RHD in a survey it’s most important that their sales rep understands their products, listens to their needs and problems, and offers creative solutions. But when measured against these attributes, only 37% of advertisers said that their RHD sales rep ranked “better than average” or “best.”

Fast forward six months, after an effort to develop and deliver a new training curriculum to sales staff and monitor their efficiency, RH Donnelly saw a big jump in advertiser satisfaction. A follow up survey found that 57% ranks their sales reps as “better than average” or “best” against the attributes – after only six months.

“Advertisers have given up on the ‘trust me’ factor,” said Bill Dinan of Telmetrics. “With proliferation out there, advertisers are saying ‘show me.’”

Bill suggested that pay per call helps level the playing field for Yellow Pages sales reps against digital media and helps advertisers align expenses with revenue. He said it’s a great strategy for winning back advertisers that have gone to competing channels and adding incremental revenue from existing advertisers.

Gary Campbell from Agendize said that “brute force selling” of intangible results is a “dangerous, dangerous proposition.” Instead, he suggests a well-trained, commissioned sales team that focuses on a ROI consultative sales approach.

He echoed sentiments that pay per call can have tremendous value for advertisers and publishers, but warns that the industry must come together to define it and bring it to market. “I’ve sat here and listened to pay per call being a key driver for our industry, but I think it’s critical we get our arms around what the pitfalls are and how we deploy it consistently.”

In terms of fixing the Yellow Pages business model, Gary says there’s still some evolution to do. He felt that “me too” directories will need to differentiate or face elimination from the market. He also said there’s work to do in overcoming perceptions and increasing sales by focusing more on analytics and reporting.