Archive for February, 2010

Join us at Transformers—the 2010 Yellow Pages Association Conference

Friday, February 26, 2010

Since the start of the year, our blog has been buzzing with upbeat news about how our members are expanding and integrating their offerings across print, online, and mobile platforms. After a tough year in 2009, we’re bouncing back in 2010 by repositioning ourselves to take advantage of new local search opportunities that will drive our business in the years to come.

So it’s no surprise why we selected Transformers as the theme for the 2010 Yellow Pages Association Conference, to be held Saturday, April 17—Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at the Paris! Hotel in Las Vegas.

This year’s program is designed to provide more insider perspective, more targeted presentations, and more observations from thought-leaders to really focus on our transformation as an industry and the road ahead.

Some of our distinguished speakers include:

  • Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President for Eastman Kodak Company, is often cited as a leading marketing expert worldwide. As a veteran of dramatic industry change, he will reveal how Kodak is successfully transforming itself into an innovative leader in digital imaging—and what he thinks it takes to succeed in the digital age
  • Jesper Karrbrink, CEO of Swedish local search company Eniro, will discuss how his company is embracing online and mobile technologies while also maintaining a profitable and effective print business
  • Ben Legg, Group COO at European Directories, will discuss how he is transforming his group into a multi-media sales organization. Legg was previously COO of Google Europe.

In addition to speaker sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to engage in one-on-one conversations with industry leaders and innovators, and attend a variety of networking receptions, events, and Strategic Exchange Sessions (more on this later) designed to encourage dialogue and networking.

Join Yellow Pages industry professionals from around the world at this premier event. For more information, including the list of speakers, agenda, and registration form, please visit the conference page on the YPA website.

New Studies Question Assumptions Regarding Media Usage

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In my Search Engine Land column last month, I talked about the importance of adapting advertising strategies to not only fit new macro-trends in how customers are searching for local businesses, but also to reflect the speed and nature in which specific communities are changing their search patterns.

While directories and advertisers are increasingly leveraging online channels in their marketing plans, a new survey by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding U.S. broadband adoption shows that a significant number of American consumers still haven’t signed on to the digital grid.

Some interesting stats from the survey include:

  • Two-thirds of American adults use high-speed Internet connections at home, but approximately 35% of Americans—about 93 million consumers—are not connected where they live.
  • 22% of U.S. adults are not Internet users at all. This group includes older Americans (median age of 60) and a high share of Hispanics (20%).
  • Specific population segments trail the combined average in broadband adoption at home (65%), including low-income consumers (40%), consumers with disabilities (42%), rural consumers (50%), African-Americans (59%), and Hispanics (49%).
  • 70% of non-broadband adopters have cell phones.
  • African-Americans and Hispanics are more active mobile Internet users than whites – 39% to 27%.

These data remind us that although so much of our attention these days is focused on online growth and the need to align our advertisers with their target demographics in that space, we cannot forget that a sizable number of consumers do not use the Internet to conduct local search. Additionally, we also need to develop strategies that leverage the fact that certain groups are more prone to use mobile Internet search when looking for local business information.

That said, the way we define “demographics” and “groups” and their related media behavior may be changing. A new study from the University of Southern California, the Hallmark Channel, and E-Poll released this week argues that media behavior is best evaluated by looking at “life stages” as opposed to demographics. The report, which looked at media behaviors at eight major life-stage groups—including teens, college students, recent graduates, singles with no kids, new nesters, established families, married couples with no children and empty nesters—found distinct media usage differences at each life stage.

From our perspective, the results of these studies confirm what our industry has been saying for years. While social-economic and ethnic demographics are clearly factors in determining media usage, the needs and wants of consumers change as they grow up, buy their first homes, start families, send their children off to college, etc. At each stage, Yellow Pages—irrespective of the form in which it is delivered—provides an important service.

Yellow Pages Group Adds 411.ca, RedFlagDeals.com to Online Portfolio

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yellow Pages Group is staying true to its promise to reposition itself in the “new digital universe” with dual announcements today regarding its acquisition of various online properties.

The Canadian Yellow Pages provider said it had purchased the 411.ca brand, a fast-growing online directory that currently attracts 10% of local search users or 13 million queries each month, expanding the footprint for YPG’s existing Canada411.ca and YellowPages.ca brands. The company said the addition of the 411.ca site will add approximately 1 million unduplicated unique monthly visitors to YPG’s online network.

Additionally, YPG took control of Clear Sky Media, a holding company that owns RedFlagDeals.com (an online discount/coupon site), Scarlett Lounge (a fashion and beauty shopping site for women), and PriceCanada.com (an online shopping price comparison site).

RedFlagsDeals.com, which alone attracts 2.2 million unique monthly users, represents a fast-growing segment in the local online space. In the U.S., for example, more than 20% of online users – or 45 million consumers – used digital coupons in 2009, according to research compiled by Coupons.com. This represented an 18% increase in use compared to 2008.

Today’s announcements come just days after YPG announced Search Engine Solutions, a new SEM offering designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses.

These moves represent the growing shift in the industry towards expanding online directory and vertical offerings and associated services related to search engine optimization.

Yellow Pages Group Launches Search Engine Marketing Services

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Over the weekend, we shared news that Yellow Pages Group was planning a digital makeover and a new name for its parent company – Yellow Media. This morning, the Canadian company made good on its promise with the announcement of an innovative offering designed specifically to help its clients leverage opportunities in the digital space.

In a press release, Yellow Pages Group said it was introducing a new suite of services, Search Engine Solutions, to assist small and medium-sized business with generating more qualified leads and converting online searchers into customers. Components of the new offering include:

  • Paid-search advertising campaigns tailored specifically to business needs, objectives, and budgets across multiple major search engines (i.e. Google, Yahoo, and Bing).
  • Counsel in developing the most cost-effective search phrases for businesses to improve their Web site rankings and attract new customers.
  • Ability for advertisers to create a custom leads page with interactive mapping, driving directions, and “send to a friend” options.
  • Detailed monthly report to help clients optimize their online visibility and increase traffic to their Web properties.

Today’s announcement is just the latest example of how Yellow Pages companies are expanding their services to remain the one-stop, integrated advertising partners for small businesses – whether it’s in print, online, or via mobile.


Study: Major Search Engines Attract Different Types of Users

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In my Search Engine Land article earlier this month, I talked about the growing importance of behaviorally-targeted search – specifically how businesses should take advantage of search engine algorithms that incorporate user demographics, last used search terms, past online purchases, and other factors to help reach their target consumers.

Now a group of marketing agencies including Wunderman, BrandAsset Consulting, Zaaz and Compete have published an interesting study that looks at the shopping habits and brand preferences of Google, Yahoo, Bing search users. According to their results, individual search engines attract different types of users and yield different types of results – opening up the question of whether businesses need to also tailor their search marketing strategies to each of the major search portals.

The research found that the demographic and psychographic profile of each loyal search engine user is different. For example, the study found that Bing users, “tend to be mostly from the tip of the adoption curve (innovators and early adopters) where Yahoo! and Google’s passengers tend to be middle majority.”

Additionally, the research found that different search engines are more influential than others in driving consumers to visit, shop, and purchase products and services in different sales categories. For example, the study found that Bing users are more likely than others to visit, shop, and ultimately purchase items at Walmart than Google and Yahoo users. Meanwhile, Google users are more likely to purchase travel-related products and services than Bing and Yahoo users. (Click here for more).

I agree with others who have suggested that the results of this study might be a stretch – and that it makes assumptions about the type of consumers that use each of the major search engines. That said, I wouldn’t discount its results so quickly. What’s important is that we keep an open mind about user behavior and how different consumers are using various search services, tools, and platforms to access business information. In doing so, we’ll be better adept to provide the most targeted advertising for our clients, improve user experience and stay ahead of the competition.

U.K.’s Yell Group Announces New Compact Version of Print Directory

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In my post on Wednesday, I briefly mentioned the announcement by Yell Group, the U.K.’s largest Yellow Page publisher, that it will introduce a smaller compact version of its print directory in June to replace its traditionally larger format.

According to the company, the planned change in size—a reduction of five centimeters in height and four centimeters in width—represents the most significant revamp of the directory since it was first produced in the U.K. more than forty years ago.

In addition to its new size, the revised format incorporates various design changes, a new “local listings” feature, and an easier-to-read font. All editions of the directory will be produced with recycled fibre content and virgin pulp from sustainably managed forests, and are 100% recycleable.

Yell said its research found that 85% of users said they would prefer to receive the compact format directory rather than the standard A4 size. Additionally, research showed that usage increased 7% with the new format, which users found easier to read, use, and manage.

Yell’s announcement comes just days after the firm reported better-than-expected financials and said small businesses advertisers were beginning to return to market. According to the firm’s chief financial officer John Davis, “We are beginning to see a return of customer confidence.”

We look forward to seeing how small business takes advantage of this new format and the opportunities it provides in reaching their target consumers.

Yellow Pages Group Plans Digital Makeover, New Name

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A digital makeover is on the horizon for Yellow Pages Income Fund, the Canadian Yellow Pages provider, according to The Canadian Press.

In an interview with the outlet, president and CEO Marc Tellier said the company is, “going to look at repositioning our brand, repositioning the logo to be more representative of this new digital universe.”

In its 2009 full-year earnings release yesterday, the Yellow Pages provider announced that it has renamed its subsidiary YPG Holdings, Inc., the parent company of Yellow Pages Group and Trader Corp., as Yellow Media, Inc.

The new name is the latest in a string of recent re-brandings for Yellow Pages companies—including Idearc’s change to SuperMedia and R.H. Donnelley to DexOne Corp—and reflects the industry’s growing shift towards delivering hybrid solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses through its online, mobile, and print multimedia platforms.

Already, Yellow Media is starting to make major strides in the online and mobile space. According to its release, revenues for online directories and vertical media combined grew 24% compared to last year.

Specifically, the company said it has focused on enhancing the user experience on its different platforms. For example, YellowPages.ca, its leading online directory, now offers location-based results, interactive mapping features, additional options to help users refine their search, as well as merchant videos.

Yellow Media is also purchasing additional online verticals to help boost revenues, such as Restaurantica.com, the online restaurant and dining community we blogged about last month. Additionally, the company said it has partnered with a local search and performance advertising company and will soon launch a new search engine solutions offering.

On the mobile front, Yellow Media said it had achieved success with the launch of a series of mobile search applications for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Google Andriod users. The BlackBerry and iPhone apps have been downloaded more than 650,000 times.

For more information, read the full release here.

Australia’s Sensis Announces Carbon Neutral Certification

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our Yellow Pages member from the Down Under, Sensis, made a major announcement last week that’s generating headlines in Australia.

In what Sensis describes as a world-first for a major directory publisher, the company’s Yellow Pages and White Pages directories have been certified carbon neutral through the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Friendly program.

In short, this means that Sensis will offset emissions generated throughout the complete lifecycle of its Yellow Pages and White Pages print and online directories—including their production, use, disposal, and distribution—by taking part in Greenhouse Friendly accredited programs and projects in Australia.

The company will also work to identify and reduce its largest areas of environmental impact. According to Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst, the company is also hoping to cut its operational greenhouse gas footprint by 5% annually.

Here on the Western Hemisphere, Yellow Pages companies have also introduced various programs and changes to help improve the environmental impact of their directories. Here are just a few:

  • Earlier today, the UK’s Yell Group announced what it’s calling the most significant revamp of its directory in more than 40 years: the introduction of a smaller compact version to replace its traditional larger format.
  • Last year, we announced YellowPagesOptOut.com, a site that helps consumers simply and effectively stop directory delivery or adjust the number of directories they receive. All major publishers have also  introduced their own opt-out programs.
  • SuperMedia and DexOne have launched efforts to put consumer choice and recycling information on the covers of their print directories. They are also sponsoring recycling programs in their local areas.
  • No new trees are necessary to produce Yellow Pages. Publishers use recycled newspapers, telephone books and leftover woodchips from the lumber industry.
  • The basis weight of directory paper has been reduced by 11% over the past five years.
  • Yellow Pages are printed with vegetable-based ink that poses no danger to ground water.

Our members are constantly looking for additional ways to reduce our environmental footprint. Sensis’ announcement is another step in the right direction for our industry.

AT&T Interactive Partners with Expedia

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

AT&T Interactive just announced an exciting new partnership with Expedia Affiliate Network, the online travel company that owns Expedia.com.  Users will be able to check hotel rates, room availability and book rooms for hotels listed on AT&T’s YellowPages.com and YP.com.

The move is the latest by a Yellow Pages company towards developing new online tools and partnerships as a means of generating new revenues. As we reported last month, Canada’s Yellow Pages Group acquired Restaurantica.com, a popular restaurant and dining online community, in an effort to capitalize on the growing trend of users making their dining decisions online and based on user recommendations and reviews.

According to the release, the agreement creates a “natural extension” to the travel and hotel information already available on AT&T’s local search sites. In addition to local travel-related listings, users will now have access to Expedia’s expansive hotel content, including maps and points of interest, hotel photos and virtual tours.

While the partnership is a win for AT&T, it’s also a great indication of the importance that online retailers such as Expedia are placing on Yellow Pages’ local search. As Sunil Bhatt, vice president and general manager for Expedia Affiliate Network, notes, “Aligning with AT&T Interactive gives Expedia a way to reach consumers who are already looking for local hotel information.”

And the number of consumers going online for travel is growing. According to PhoCusWright U.S. Online Travel, more than 39% of all travel bookings are now being done on the Web. With today’s announcement, Yellow Pages will have an ever greater opportunity to be a part of the action.