Archive for January, 2010

The Berry Company Transforms, Expands Digital Offerings

Friday, January 29, 2010

It’s the last day of a very busy month for Yellow Pages companies.  We came out of the gates of 2010 with a number of important stories about the transformation of our industry, from SuperMedia, R.H. Donnelley (soon to be known as Dex One Corp.), and AT&T.

So it’s no surprise that yesterday, The Berry Company announced that it was entering into contracts with two Web site development and search engine marketing companies, Yodle, Inc. and Web.com Group Inc. These partnerships will help Berry to further expand beyond its traditional roots in print publishing to become an integrated provider of both print and digital local search services.

Earlier this month, Berry announced a transformative effort to put it in a stronger position to assist small businesses in developing a multi-platform approach to their advertising, including print directories, Internet Yellow Pages, web sites, search engine marketing optimization and video.

I think the comment from Scott Pomeroy, Berry’s president and CEO, in his announcement this week was a great statement that reflects what’s going on in our industry at large.  He said, “The launch is the culmination of the strategy and plans we have been working on for the past two years.  We are expanding our legacy role as a print yellow pages publisher to become a local search services provider in order to meet our clients’ need for leads from the many sources consumers use today as they search for local businesses.  We have spent the last year re-engineering every aspect of our business, which we believe will fundamentally transform how we operate and serve our clients.”

I’m looking forward to seeing all the news of the past month turn into real results for Yellow Pages companies, and for our advertising customers as well.

What Will Yellow Pages Create for the Tablet?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Yesterday in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced his company’s latest, highly-anticipated innovation – the Apple iPad Tablet.

If you’ve followed the news recently, you already know that tablets are not only expected to make waves as a new consumer gadget, but also as a means for old media publishers such as newspapers and magazines to reach new customers. In addition to Apple, HP has released a tablet device, and others including Dell, Lenovo, and possibly Microsoft are planning to release tablet devices later this year.

In his presentation, Jobs noted that the iPad will support the iTunes store, most applications already available in its App Store, as well as a new iBookstore with books from major and independent publishers. The iPad will also feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Internet connectivity and include an option for unlimited wireless data through AT&T.

With all the excitement surrounding the tablet, I’m eager to see what Yellow Pages companies develop to take advantage of this new technology. YP companies are already changing the ways we search for information online and via mobile. I can only imagine the possibilities that tablets will bring by providing YP clients with a greater ability to share dynamic content with their target consumers, wherever they are.

Canada’s Yellow Pages Group Adds Online Restaurant and Dining Community

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Here’s an interesting story from our Yellow Pages friends up north: Yellow Pages Group, a leading Canadian local commercial search provider, announced this week that it has purchased Restaurantica.com, a popular restaurant and dining online community.

The move is the latest in a growing trend among Yellow Pages companies towards developing or acquiring new online and mobile tools as a means of generating new revenues.

Yellow Pages Group, which already runs the YellowPages.ca online search engine, will benefit from the addition of a restaurant-related site that hosts user reviews, which are becoming increasingly popular among users.

According to the company, 80% of dining decisions are significantly influenced by user recommendations and reviews. The site also comes with more than 50,000 restaurant customers, who will in turn become Yellow Pages customers.

Restaurantica currently lists around 400,000 restaurants, bars and cafes, with more than 200,000 user-generated reviews, according to the announcement press release. Additionally, the site, which has its own iPhone app, attracts more than 540,000 visits and 1.7 million page views per month.

New web verticals such as Restuarantica and EveryCarListed.com, a SuperMedia site dedicated to car sales, represent Yellow Pages’ expanding influence in the digital space – and a sign of more to come.

Legal Battle Over Print Yellow Pages Placement Shows Continued Value

Friday, January 22, 2010

Recently on this blog, we’ve focused on the growing importance of online and mobile opportunities for Yellow Pages companies and their small business advertisers. Recently,  SuperMedia (formerly Idearc) emerged from bankruptcy with a commitment to developing those areas of its business.

But in Baltimore this month, the continued importance of print Yellow Pages as an marketing medium became clear after a legal battle emerged over which local law firm would be allowed to advertise on the back cover of this year’s directory.

The dispute, though unfortunate because it involved an error on the part of the local directory publisher, nonetheless emphasized the high regard small businesses still hold for print Yellow Pages.

Read more on the BIA Kelsey blog.

Don’t Forget The Place Your Customers Call Home

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Last week I wrote an article for Search Engine Land on the latest consumer usage trends and the new opportunities they offer for local search providers and small business customers.

As SuperMedia’s Chief Executive Scott Klein suggests, understanding new online and mobile local search initiatives is key for growth heading into the new year. Also important is ensuring directories and advertisers reflect the quickly changing search patterns of specific communities. Some things to consider include urban vs. rural technology access; age and gender; ethnic demographics; print directory usage patterns; and varying degrees of economic growth by region.

Growth in 2010 will certainly be shaped by our ability to develop innovative online and mobile capabilities. At the same time, a complete portfolio is what will allow us to reach as many of our unique consumers as possible in their specific communities.

You can read my full piece at Search Engine Land here.

R.H. Donnelley To Exit Bankruptcy By End of January

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yellow Pages publisher R.H. Donnelley is set to emerge from bankruptcy later this month after a U.S. court approved its reorganization plan. The move comes just two weeks after Idearc—rebranded SuperMedia—announced that it had exited bankruptcy.

R.H. Donnelley, which publishes 75 million Yellow Pages directories annually, is counting on new online and mobile offerings to help fuel its growth as consumers increasingly use those platforms for local search.

The Yellow Pages publisher is already making headway into the digital space. As we’ve noted, the company currently lists 11.5 million businesses online through its DexKnows.com Web site, supplies content for YellowPages.com, and has deals with search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Additionally, it is offering online video advertising and reputation management for companies seeking to improve their online customer reviews, Reuters reports.

In a press release, David H. Swanson, chairman and CEO of R.H. Donnelley, said “R.H. Donnelley will become a stronger entity, better positioned to helping local businesses address their marketing needs.”

For more, read the company’s release here and a Reuters article here.

Theater-Goers Make the Most of Yellow Pages in January

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

With all the hustle and bustle and entertaining of the holidays, it’s no surprise many of us don’t make it to the December movie blockbusters. Research tells us that many Americans turn to the Yellow Pages for help researching local theaters in January in an effort to catch up on the movies they missed – without the lines. The “Theaters” heading makes its second biggest splash of the year in November.

It should come as no surprise that “Theaters” is the 20th most referenced heading of more than 4,000. According to the 2008 Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Theatrical Statistics Report, the theater industry is a nearly $10 billion industry domestically. One thing you may not know however is that the motion picture community comprises primarily of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Of the over 115,000 businesses nationwide, 81 percent employ fewer than 10 people, according to an MPAA economic impact report, which is probably why so many consumers turn to the Yellow Pages for local listings. I imagine that percentage drastically increases when referencing performing arts and children’s theaters.

Some interesting findings on who is searching for theaters:

  • Over 96 million searches per year
  • Prior to opening the Yellow Pages, 43% of the users had a decision to make – that is, 16% did not have any name in mind and 27% had two or more names in mind (notably higher than the all-heading average)
  • Almost all (98%) of the references in this heading are for personal reasons
  • 88% percent of consumers referencing the heading follow up with a ticket purchase
  • Finally, good news for theaters, the average Yellow Pages consumer spends $71 at the point of purchase

Intermedia Shopping Study

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Yellow Pages Association has released some interesting results from the just completed Intermedia Shopping Study (ISS) conducted by TNS. The purpose of the study is to measure consumers’ use of various media during the purchase decision process.

Print Yellow Pages + Internet Yellow Pages at 26.5% came in second to online services at 30.8% for the media used most by consumers during the purchase decision.  More importantly, print Yellow Pages extended the reach of search engines from 29.7% to 43.9%, an increase of almost 50%.

The top used headings for print and internet Yellow Pages are as follows.

PYP

1. Septic Tank Service
2. Funeral Directors
3. Plumbing Contractors
4. Glass – Automobile/Plate/Window
5. Appliances – Service & Repair
6. Roofing Contractors
7. Towing – Automotive
8. Electrician/Electrical Contractors
9. Locks & Locksmiths
10. Doors/Garage Doors

IYP

1.  Employment Agencies
2.  Movers
3.  Check Cashing Services
4.  Air Conditioning Equipment
5.  Building Contractors
6.  Apartments
7.  Nurses
8.  Glass – Automobile/Plate/Window
9.  Storage-HH and commercial
10. Septic Tank Service

The fact that only two headings (Septic Tank Service and Glass) appear on both lists once again demonstrates that PYP and IYP are mutually exclusive and are used for different purposes.


Internet Marketing Pitch Materials Get a Little ‘Drastic’ Sometimes

Friday, January 8, 2010

I ran across a press release from an Internet marketing service that used some strong words about the health of print Yellow Pages directories, saying that Yellow Pages usage is “drastically dropping” every year.

Of course, a competitor would be apt to say something like that about one of our industry’s products, and the truth is there has been a decline in the number of references to print directories over the last five years.  But I certainly wouldn’t characterize the drop as drastic – especially in light of the current fragmented media environment, where newspapers, network TV and radio have all experienced significant drops in audience share.

The Internet marketing company also forgot to mention that the number of searches on Internet Yellow Pages sites has increased more than 75% over the last five years.

But back to print.  What might be surprising to some is that a significant number of print Yellow Pages headings have shown dramatic increases over the past 10 years, and we’re not just talking about traditionally strong headings like “Gutters and Downspouts” (which has seen a 130% increase in references).

On the contrary, headings that are used by “millenials” have also shown dramatic increases.  For example, “Ear Piercing” and “Tatooing” are each up almost 600% in the past 10 years.  For gen Xers, “Home Centers,” “Resorts” and “Hot Tubs” are each up over 150%.  And for Baby Boomers, “Retirement Homes and Communities” is up over 200%.

This tells us that the more things change, the more they remain the same.  In many ways, I see Yellow Pages as a mirror of societal change.  And we can watch consumers pass through different life stages by the way they use Yellow Pages directories.

Research shows that local businesses can be extremely effective in maintaining a print directory ad that complements Internet Yellow Pages listings, sponsored keyword buys, search engine optimization – which, by the way, can often be coordinated in one suite of services through a Yellow Pages sales rep.