In a press release, YPG said the company had acquired Canpages, a Canadian local search and directories publisher. In addition to its 84 printed directories with total circulation of 8 million, Canpages’ website, Canpages.ca, attracts more than 3.5 million unique visitors monthly. The company, which said its online operations account for 23% of its annualized revenues, employs about 700 people in Canada, of which 450 are sales consultants.
In a separate transaction, YPG said it contributed its U.S. directory operations, YPG Directories—the publisher of Your Community Phone Book (YCB)—to Ziplocal. YCB is the publisher of independent directories in selected Mid-Atlantic and Southeast American markets and was acquired from Volt Information Sciences in 2008. After the transaction, Ziplocal, which runs the Web site ziplocal.com, will reach over 300 U.S. markets. The deal will give YPG a 35% minority ownership in the new combined entity.
We’re excited about Yellow Pages Group continued expansion in the digital space and the new opportunities it will provide local businesses in Canada to reach their target consumers on multiple platforms.
Yesterday we released new data from Burke that showed both strong reach and trust for Yellow Pages products. I thought today I’d explain a little bit more about how and why we collect these data.
YPA has conducted research to understand consumer use of our products for years. We make these data available to our members who use it as competitive intelligence, and we release it to analysts and media to help them understand our role in local search and generating leads for local businesses.
About two years ago, we realized we needed to reinvent our data collection process. Our previous usage study had become antiquated – it only polled consumers via land line telephone interviews and it did not measure the reach of other sources of local business information.
Those two deficiencies were critical. Internet and cell phones have made land line-only surveys unreliable since many in certain demographics no longer use land lines. And as media fragmented, consumers started searching for local information by consulting multiple sources. Add that Yellow Pages companies now partner with search engines, offer SEO/SEM services, and even provide direct mail, and it’s easy to see we needed a much broader perspective on media used for local search.
We wanted the sample to represent the overall population. Here’s how we achieved a fair representation of American consumers:
Multi-mode data collection with 80% online and 20% telephone participants.
A balanced-screening method to ensure the survey sample is in proportion to the actual U.S. adult population – including age and geography (urban, suburban, and rural).
Interviewing spread across all days of the week and all weeks of the year.
The survey took about 20 minutes, on average, to complete.
Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.
Goal was to collect 8,000 interviews over a 12-month period. For the 2009 analysis, we actually conducted 8,062 interviews.
The questionnaire was designed to measure a number of key areas including reach, annual references, and perceptions – data points that we released yesterday.
For reach, the question asked was: “We would like to know when, if ever, you last used some potential sources to look up information to find a business, or to shop or look for a product or service in your local area. Please include your use at home, at work, or elsewhere.” Then we listed a number of options including print Yellow Pages, Internet Yellow Pages, search engines, magazines, newspapers, etc. in a random order, so as not to highlight any one option.
To understand perceptions about the Yellow Pages and search engines, the interviewer read a series of statements. The instructions were as follows: “For each of the statements, please indicate which one of the following media is described best by the statement: Is the source I trust the most for finding local business information; Is the most accurate source for finding local business information.”
To calculate annual print references, Burke uses a formula that estimates the percent of use against the total U.S. adult population.
Future of the Local Media Tracking Study
In addition to the 2009 reach and trust data, we collected other information from consumers that we plan to release soon, including brand awareness at the time of search and post-search actions for Yellow Pages products.
We’re also continuing to collect data in 2010, which means we’ll have a new set of data points next year. What’s most exciting about that is we can trend the year over year data, so we’ll see how print Yellow Pages and Internet Yellow Pages are doing compared to the wider local search universe.
I am extremely pleased with the first Local Media Tracking study. I believe it achieves the objectives we set out to accomplish, providing YPA members and observers with thought-provoking data based on the most acceptable research methodology we’ve ever used.
Today is the final day here at BIA/Kelsey’s Marketplace 2010. I’m glad I had the opportunity to hear so many great speakers and learn about the innovative approaches and strategies various companies are using in local search space.
Our friends at the BIA/Kelsey are keeping the outside world up-to-speed on all of the sessions via their blog, Local Media Watch. Some interesting posts include:
Nearly two years ago, we began the process of reshaping how we collect Yellow Pages usage data. We wanted to create an index that measured Yellow Pages usage better than anything we had before, and to have the ability to compare that data with other sources of local information.
Today, I’m glad to say that hard work has paid off with the release of our first annual Local Media Tracking Study. Because this survey included 80% online interviews and 20% telephone interviews, I’m confident this reflects the population better than our previous survey, which was only conducted by telephone and focused solely on Yellow Pages usage.
Conducted by Burke, the study found that the Yellow Pages industry continues to have significant reach in local search, and that consumer trust in Yellow Pages remains strong. It also found that our reach and frequency grew between the first and second half of 2009, following the general economic trends we saw on a macro level.
Yellow Pages Products Capture Greatest Reach
In the survey, consumers were asked what sources they used in the last month to look up information to find a local business, or to look for a product or service in their local area.
In answer to that question, 65% said they used print and/or Internet Yellow Pages – more than any of the other sources. When analyzed individually, print Yellow Pages was 54% and Internet Yellow Pages was 33%.
Search engines scored 58%, followed by flyers/coupons, newspapers, and magazines. Because Yellow Pages companies have formed partnerships with search engines, it’s fair to say the Yellow Pages reach is quite high across a number of platforms.
Yellow Pages Continue to Maintain Consumer Trust
Trust has always been a big talking point for the Yellow Pages industry, and the data show why.
More than two-thirds of consumers (67%) said that print or Internet Yellow Pages are the source they trust most for finding local business information, compared to 33% for search engines.
When polled on accuracy of local business information, print and Internet Yellow Pages scored highest with 68%, compared to search engines with 32%.
Print and Internet Yellow Pages Generate 16.9 Billion References
In total, consumers referenced print and Internet Yellow Pages 16.9 billion times in 2009.
Separate research from comScore found that Internet Yellow Pages continued to chart growth, increasing from 4.6 billion searches in 2008 to 4.9 billion in 2009. Burke found that print Yellow Pages received 12 billion references in 2009.
The results also indicated growth in the reach (the number of U.S. adults who use Yellow Pages) and frequency (how often Yellow Pages are referenced per adult) in both print and Internet Yellow Pages between the first and second half of 2009:
The percentage who said they used print Yellow Pages within the last month increased 12 percent, from 51.5% in the first quarter to 57.6% in the fourth quarter.
Respondents also turned to print Yellow Pages more frequently as the year progressed. In the first quarter, there was an average of 0.93 references per U.S. adult per week. By the fourth quarter, that had grown 19 percent to 1.11 references per adult per week.
Internet Yellow Pages saw an even sharper 20% growth in reach during the year, from 31.6 percent in the first quarter to 37.9% in the fourth quarter.
The frequency of Internet Yellow Pages usage grew 24% from the first quarter (0.54 references per week per adult) to the fourth quarter (0.67 references per week per adult).
A Reflection on the Data
Overall, I’m pleased to see very solid performance by Yellow Pages. Of course, these results reflect the overall U.S. population, so there are differences between age groups and geographies. Not surprisingly, print Yellow Pages is less popular with the 18-24 crowd than other age categories, while print Yellow Pages reach is stronger with rural consumers than with urban and suburban. Internet Yellow Pages reach ranked highest with consumers under 55, and most popular with suburban users as compared to urban and rural.
I’ll blog more about these data points in the days and weeks ahead, but I believe they demonstrate a critical point: advertiser’s can benefit from the Yellow Pages industry’s new agency model – where depending on your business, target customer, and geographic location – you can work with your Yellow Pages rep to put together a program that will work best and focuses on the right kind of advertising. Whether that’s a display ad in the print directory, a video ad on an Internet Yellow Pages site, or a robust SEO/SEM program or sponsored YP listing in Bing – it’s up to you and your Yellow Pages rep to create a program that generates the sales the business needs to win.
Now, the company is entering into a distribution agreement with Citysearch—the online local media company— that will give Dex One advertisers the option of having their listings appear across CityGrid, the largest content and ad network for local, in addition to DexKnows.com. According to this morning’s release, the agreement expands Dex One’s online distribution network of industry-leading partner sites by giving consumers exposure to Citygrid’s 140 million unique users across the Web.
I think these recent announcements represent an interesting approach by Dex One in which the company is looking to leverage the success of its online competitors to gain new visibility and value for both its local business customers and its regular users.
Off to a fast start yesterday, with the “Clients Only” session and then Jon Brod’s (EVP – AOL Ventures) keynote, BIA/Kelsey Marketplaces 2010 is in full swing. Brod announced AOL’s intention to launch patch.org, a foundation aimed at improving life in under-served communities.
Quoted in MediaPost, Brod laid out AOL’s strategy, which will allow patch.org to partner with community foundations. “This is a charitable foundation with all profits being returned to communities we serve,” he said. “We believe local information is the most important and helpful information people want and need. And we are committed to filling this need in society without regard to economic status.”
This morning, we heard from a different segment beginning with Craig Smith, CEO – ServiceMagic. Founded in 1999 and now producing $150 million in lead fees, Craig offered the controversial opinion that, “the recession is a good thing, what we needed to kick start innovation.” He stated that during the past 10 years, the power has shifted from the publisher to the advertiser, because of the “thousands of ways” to advertise. His answer? Provide more value to ensure long-term advertiser loyalty.
And he advises to remember that the consumer wants the search to be easy, and they want the right pro the first time.
Since word of mouth continues to be the most powerful influencer, ServiceMagic has created “Ask a Reviewer” to ensure that the consumer community can offer advice about local service providers.
Smith went into their strategy to accelerate growth and invited others in the audience to consider taking more risk and considering disruptive business models, while investing in long term value propositions with their customers.
Next up was the Engines of Vertical Search Panel, featuring:
This briskly-paced panel covered the three wheels of vertical search – search, directory listings and inventory-based classified listings.
Some stand-out points:
Advertisers, even small ones, are looking for transparency in results and easy-to-follow dashboards that demonstrate how their spend translates into transactions.
42% of small and medium-sized businesses don’t want to grow their business, but they can still be reached with marketing solutions if approached from a different perspective – staying connected with existing customers and managing their reputation.
Anchor identity (name, phone numbers, email addresses, locations) and descriptive content (accreditation, images, keywords, video, licensing, etc.) must remain fresh, accurate and be revisited on a consistent basis to ensure strong SEO results.
And for those in search and search advertising, Listings = Content = Ads
There’s more to come on the agenda today and tomorrow, and additional coverage at the BIA/Kelsey blog. Tonight – MojoPages is sponsoring an evening under the Big Top!
In a release, the company said its mobile users can now sign up for SuperGuarantee, find qualified businesses, register service appointments, and file claims straight from their wireless device. Currently, SuperPages mobile apps are available on iPhone or iPod touch, BlackBerry, and Google Android platforms—with Palm Pre and Windows Mobile apps coming soon, according to the company’s Web site.
Yellow Pages mobile apps are increasingly in the news. Last week, UK’s Yell Group announced an Augmented Reality iPhone App that allows users to see business information for more than two million local shops, offices, restaurants and other useful services through the iPhone’s camera viewer.
According to Greg Sterling’s blog Screenwerk, SuperMedia CEO Scott Klein credited the SuperGuarantee program in January with helping drive “meaningful spikes in registrations and healthy improvement in possession and usage.” Klein told Sterling that in “90% of measured markets; possession and usage are up in double digits” as a result of the program.
I think we can expect the mobile version of SuperGuarantee to only expand the program’s popularity and benefit to SuperMedia’s local business customers.
In a news release, YPG president and CEO Marc P. Tellier said, “Our new branding reflects an important shift in the way we are doing business, in what we are offering to consumers and in the way we partner with advertisers. We now offer a vastly expanded selection of products and services that put businesses right in front of consumers as they are looking to buy. The message it sends is that YPG is multi-platform: we’re online, we’re mobile and we are still the leading and most widely used print directory in the country.”
As part of its announcement, YPG launched new capabilities and functionalities on its mobile applications for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Google Android. The company also introduced new ratings and reviews, restaurant profiles, and online coupons to its popular YellowPages.ca Internet directory.
We look forward to seeing how YPG continues to expand its digital influence as part of an integrated approach dedicated to providing businesses with the ability to reach consumers on various media platforms.
San Diego is the place to be this week, with BIA/Kelsey presenting Marketplaces 2010 with a packed agenda including John Brod, EVP AOL Ventures as an opening speaker today. Tonight, Acxiom is hosting a kick-off pirate party on the water and everyone will be wearing an eye patch!
But seriously, check out the Marketplaces 2010 agenda here and check in here as I’ll be following various speakers and panels. I’m particularly interested in today’s panel on Applying Social Media to Vertical Marketplaces, featuring representatives from both new and traditional media.
SuperMedia.com, which launched a local search Twitter channel last September (@sp411), announced yesterday that it’s tapping into the coupon trend by launching a new initiative on Twitter to drive more leads to its business listings. In a release, the company said that it has started distributing thousands of coupons from its local business listings to 72 city-specific accounts on Twitter—at no cost to business owners.
Businesses which upload coupons to their Superpages.com business profile page will see their coupons tweeted on their local SuperMedia Coupons Twitter channel. Among other options, businesses will also be able include a promotion code to track specific offers.
This is just another example of how Yellow Pages companies are taking advantage of new online tools to generate value for their business and consumer customers. We look forward to seeing how both sides take advantage of this new program.