Reuters ran a piece this weekend looking at the high-tech futures of two major Yellow Pages companies, Idearc and R.H. Donnelley.
Reuters reports that both companies are likely to emerge from bankruptcy protection very soon and that their revitalized futures lie in developing new opportunities for small businesses on online and mobile platforms. Already, these companies have established viable online businesses: including creating new online directories such as SuperPages.com and dexknows.com, providing content to YellowPages.com and major search engines such as Google and Yahoo, and offering advertising support to services such as Google Maps and Microsoft Map Point.
Idearc and R.H. Donnelley also expressed confidence that their print directories will continue to serve as important tool for small businesses for years to come. Idearc’s research indicates that consumers still conduct billions of searches in print directories each year.
Recent statistics from the National Federation of Independent Business point to a small uptick next year in key small business metrics including sales, earnings, credits and optimism. If those positive signs gain momentum, 2010 promises to be an exciting year – but not without its challenges.
My predictions include:
1. Mobile will drive local search growth: Projections show that mobile local search ad revenue and mobile local searches will increase significantly over the next few years. In 2010, the winning providers will be those who can make sense of this quickly changing platform and deliver programs that offer quality sales leads to advertisers. Already, Yellow Pages companies have launched iPhone and Android apps along with mapping technologies that deliver relevant local information to users on the go.
2. Local search providers will vie for social: Social media ad spending is rising quickly because advertisers know that significant trust exists between online social communities. AT&T has said it will launch a service that allows business to authentically tap into social networks to serve local business information to consumers. Superpages has already launched a Twitter search tool that illustrates this trend towards social.
3. Local print advertising will decline but won’t disappear: Many have predicted the death of print media for some time. However, the perception of the usage decline in the printed directory far exceeds the reality of what is actually happening. While the quantity of print Yellow Pages references is gradually declining, the quality of those references is still very high.
4. A hybrid marketing approach will win: Yellow Pages sales representatives have essentially become advertising consultants to small business, who can offer portfolios of options ranging from owned products to partner products. It’s more important than ever to consider a hybrid approach because today’s consumers get information from a multiple of places before making a purchasing decision.
You can read my full piece at Search Engine Land here.
This week BIA/Kelsey put together another compelling meeting and more than 500 attendees from all over the world were in LA for a packed agenda.
There was so much going on it was difficult to choose sessions to comment on, but some of my favorites included:
Making Money With/For SMBs with Court Cunningham, CEO –Yodle, Kirsten Mangers, found and CEO – WebVisible and Andy Vogel, senior director of sales, Los Angeles Times Media Group. Facilitated by Steve Marshall, director of research and consulting, BIA/Kelsey, the group discussed their strategies for partnering with their clients. All have seen gains in customers in 2009 and feel that as their product lines produce measureable results for clients, that growth will continue in 2010.
Some of the discussion centered on how much more sophisticated small businesses are becoming and the need for a well-trained sales force to sell across multiple platforms and create the right customized product suite for the customer.
This group was followed by A Special Conversation with Yelp with Greg Donaker, COO – Yelp and Matt Booth, senior VP and program director for BIA/Kelsey. Donaker spoke at length about how Yelp’s pioneering efforts in customer reviews (quality vs. quantity) have bolstered their product and helped them to pull ahead in 2009.
On Friday morning, after a brief recap of the past few days, Bobbi Loy-Luster, VP, senior analyst and director of client inquiry, facilitated Personalization and Local, with Neil Budde, president and chief Product Officer, DailyMe and Mike Orren, founder and president, Pegasus News.
Both are working in the area of customizing content, by analyzing users viewing habits, applying algorithms to develop personalized pages without losing the “serendipity” that is so much a part of the content experience. The analysis is then used to ensure that advertising is finely targeted and reaches the user at the right time.
Buzz in the hallways indicated that Reputation Management is on everyone’s mind and Chris LaSala’s , (director, small business reseller partnerships) presentation Google Local ’09 generated high interest. Overall the past few days were well worth the trip.
For more information about the BIA/Kelsey ILM09 Conference or other upcoming events, go to www.kelseygroup.com.
Local-social search has been a popular topic in the news this week, with both Google and Citysearch, the local online search directory, announcing plans to integrate real-time Twitter updates and other social networking features into their platforms. Both moves are representative of the fundamental shift currently taking place in how local information is being searched and shared – something we’ve talked about frequently on this blog.
Over the next few days, Google users will be granted access to live updates from Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, MySpace, Jaiku and Indenti.ca related to their search terms. For example, users searching for a local restaurant may come across the latest Twitter and Facebook updates about the establishment. These could include anything from a tweet by the restaurant owner with a promotional message, to a negative comment by a recent diner who wasn’t happy with their order.
Citysearch is unveiling a new Twitter integration that will feature the latest tweets about a local business on its listing page. Businesses will have the option of integrating their Twitter presence into their Citysearch page and tweeting directly with visiting users. Like with Google, users will have instant access to online conversations taking place about the businesses they’re researching – whether that buzz is good or bad. Those conversations will be in addition to the existing online user reviews currently available on the site.
The opportunities – as well as the risks – to local businesses brought about by the growth of local-social search offerings are endless. If anything, it’s clear that local businesses can no longer ignore the online conversations taking place about their services. Those conversations, once limited to social media networks, are now expanding at rapid pace into the local search domain.
The memberships of YPA and ADM have unanimously approved the merger of the two associations, effective on January 1, 2010. With the approved merger the new association is now the largest local search trade organization in the world, representing 90 percent of the United States and Canadian Yellow Pages industry, as well as key players in 29 countries worldwide.
The two associations have a history of working together and a shared objective of serving their members who provide search solutions to local and national businesses. Chris Cummings, CEO Marquette Group, who currently serves as the chairman of both associations, will continue to head the Board of YPA.
For additional information on merger benefits and other changes, please click here.
Simba Information published a new report, entitled “Online Yellow Pages Market 2009-2010,” which projects significant increases for Internet Yellow Pages in terms of both spending and its overall share of total YP market revenue.
The report said that Internet Yellow Pages spending will increase 17.4% to $1.83 billion in 2009, accounting for 11.1% of total Yellow Pages market revenue. Simba also predicts that online ad sales will continue to grow in double digits in 2010.
These strong numbers appear to indicate that publishers are serious about transforming their businesses by providing multi-platform strategies for both advertisers and consumers. The numbers are also in line with recent predictions shared on this blog, including those by AOL’s new chief Tim Armstrong, that there are bright days ahead for online YP services.
Internet Yellow Pages, along with social media and mobile platforms, are redefining Yellow Pages from simply print directories to a family of lead generation tools. We’ll continue to share examples of these developments on this blog.
I wanted to share an article posted on TheStreet.com earlier this week regarding YPA’s efforts to steer its members towards developing new search opportunities on mobile, social networking, and local-based Internet platforms.
As we’ve written on this blog recently, social media and mobile are playing increasingly important roles as a growing number of consumers adopt these mediums to conduct local searches.
In an interview for the article, I explained how Yellow Pages members are making a concerted effort to embrace these new tools. Some of our members’ efforts include:
AT&T Interactive’s partnership with Yahoo, which allows Yahoo’s Yahoo Local division to use advertiser content from Yellowpages.com, and AT&T’s ad salesforce to sell Yahoo display space to local businesses.
Now a new study from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat shows significant increases in the number of local product and service searches conducted via mobile devices. Interestingly, local searches on mobile devices now exceed out-of-market searches by a wide margin.
According to the October study, 18.5% of those surveyed searched the mobile Internet for products or services in their local area, up from 15.6% in 2008. Additionally, 15.9% obtained information about movies or entertainment, while 13.3% obtained information about restaurants or bars. This compares to the 11.1% of consumers who searched the mobile Internet for products or services outside their local area.
The study also shows large growth in mobile social networking: 16.7% of those surveyed connected with a social network such as MySpace or Facebook on their mobile devices, up from 9.6% in 2008.
These rapid increases in local searches via mobile and mobile social networking are driven primarily by the proliferation of smartphones in the U.S. market, the study found. The report also noted that growth in mobile-optimized websites, the rapid implementation of the Google Android OS mobile software, and Google’s planned acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob are driving mobile Internet use and advertising growth.
As this data clearly shows, small businesses and local search directories must embrace the mobile and social media space in order to adapt to changing user habits and benefit from new growth opportunities. We’ll continue to keep our eye out for good examples of Yellow Pages companies taking advantage of these exciting new mediums and share them here.