Archive for May, 2011

A Look at Yellowbook’s Sustainability Activities

Monday, May 23, 2011

Over the next few months we’ll be highlighting our members’ environmental activities. Today we’re featuring Yellowbook, where a strong proactive effort is being made with regard to sustainability and consumer choice. And since the company distributes print Yellow Pages across the country, its commitment to these initiatives touches consumers everywhere.

Most notably, Yellowbook has partnered with 32 state and regional recycling associations, including the Washington State Recycling Association. This month, Yellowbook will attend the Association’s conference in Pasco, Washington to distribute information about our industry’s product stewardship and recycling efforts.

Some of Yellowbook’s other activities include:

  • Printing the industry’s opt-out website, www.yellowpagesoptout.com, on the covers and in the Table of Contents of its directories in 48 states in the District of Columbia.
  • Maintaining its own website, www.recycleyellowbook.com, which provides information on ways to recycle and opt-out of directory delivery.
  • Sending delivery notification letters to local governments in the months prior to delivery with information on www.yellowpagesoptout.com and area recycling programs.

Learn more about the industry’s collective efforts in our 2011 Sustainability Report.  And watch this space for periodic updates on our activities.

BIA/Kelsey: Local Search Advertising Revenues to Reach $8.2 Billion by 2015

Friday, May 20, 2011

In another signal of the strong growth opportunities that lie ahead for the local search industry, BIA/Kelsey announced this week that it forecasts local search advertising revenues to increase from $5.1 billion in 2010 to $8.2 billion in 2015, representing a compound annual growth rate of 10%.

The firm, which notes that growth in ad revenues is being driven by a continuing increase in local search activity, projects that 30% of search volume in 2015 will be local in nature.

These revenues will continue to rise as better targeting, increased mobile usage and improved integration drive up local search activity, noted Matt Booth, senior vice president, BIA/Kelsey and program director of the its Interactive Local Media practice.

These findings track with comments made this week by Yell Group. Yell’s CEO Michael Pocock, who is preparing to unveil a new digital-focused strategy for the company, stated that he projects three quarters of Yell’s business will be digital by 2015.

For more information, read BIA/Kelsey’s press release here, or head over to their Local Media Watch blog.

Local SEO Expert Confesses Value of Print Yellow Pages

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In an article posted on Search Engine Land this week, Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide, a local search engine optimization consulting company, made a stark admission: he uses the print Yellow Pages.

Shotland’s day job is focused on promoting the value of digital advertising solutions for local businesses. But when a main water pipe to his house started to leak and flooded his lawn, Andrew admits he turned to his Yellow Pages directory to find a local plumber to help fix the problem.

On this blog, we frequently cite the various reasons why print Yellow Pages continue to play an important role in the local search experience. However, nothing we say can compare to the words of support spoken from a respected digital enthusiast like Andrew.

You can read Andrew’s piece here.

Yell CEO Michael Pocock: ‘Digital Will be Approximately Three Quarters of Our Business by 2015’

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In announcing its year-end earnings today, the new chief executive of the UK-based Yell Group, Michael Pocock, made news when he said, “digital will be approximately three quarters of our business by 2015, versus 25% as it is today.”

That’s a significant projection by the head of an international Yellow Pages company with deep roots in the print directory business – one that highlights how strongly Pocock feels about the importance of leveraging “the large and fast growing digital market.” Yell, which owns Yellowbook here in the U.S., also operates in Spain and Latin America.

By early July, Yell will unveil a new digital-focused strategy, but will also focus efforts on continuing to nurture the company’s print business, which Pocock contends will provide strong cash flows for years to come.

With changing consumer trends, our industry is increasingly shifting attention to new digital and mobile opportunities. But collectively, our commitment to delivering quality leads through print directories remains strong. A multiplatform advertising approach is, and will continue to be, the best strategy for local search companies – as well as for their important small business customers.

Opt-Out Partnership between Industry and Environmental Group Proves Successful

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Last September, we worked with Conservation Minnesota—and our members including Dex One, SuperMedia, and Yellowbook—to develop and launch a site that helps Minnesota residents manage their print directory deliveries and access local recycling information.

I’m happy to report that this delivery season, www.donttrashthephonebook.org is proving to be a real success. In yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, Paul Austin, director of Conservation Minnesota, wrote about how he successfully opted out of print delivery after enrolling in the site.

Paul’s story is representative of the experiences of thousands of people across the country who are taking advantage of our industry’s various consumer choice offerings. When given the opportunity to work, our opt-out solutions—whether on the national or local levels—can and do succeed.

Read Paul’s piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune here.

6 Key Takeaways from ‘Search Starts Here’

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In our monthly Locals Only column on Search Engine Land, I discussed my six key takeaways from our first annual Local Search Association annual conference, “Search Starts Here,” which took place in Las Vegas last month.

This year’s conference was significant because we announced a major rebranding of our organization from Yellow Pages Association to Local Search Association. The move reflected our industry’s ongoing transformation from publishers of print directors to integrated local search providers via print, online, mobile and social media.

Judging by the feedback we’ve received so far, the conference was an overwhelming success because it challenged each of us to look beyond what we’re doing currently and think about the products, services and partnerships we’ll need to develop today to complete in our industry tomorrow.

As attendees arrived in Las Vegas, many participated in Strategic Exchange Sessions, which we introduced last year instead of the traditional exhibition hall. The SES program enabled companies to easily make appointments with industry executives and explore new opportunities. We’ve heard from numerous participants who said they were able to make important connections and have valuable one-on-one face-time through the program.

Once again, our conference brought together business and thought leaders from across the industry to discuss ways to improve how we connect our local business advertisers with consumers. We live-blogged about our speakers, panels and sessions throughout the conference right here on Local Search Insider, and featured backstage videos with some of our favorite speakers. We also introduced a new Twitter channel, @LocalSearchAssn, where we participated in the lively conversation taking place via the #localsearch11 hashtag.

In addition to these activities, our attendees enjoyed networking and reconnecting with one another – especially at our Local Search Private Party on Monday evening.

Thank you to everyone – including our speakers, panelists and Local Search Association staff – for making this year’s conference one to remember.

For more information, read our conference coverage and my column on Search Engine Land.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Should Reconsider Vote on Yellow Pages Ban

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yesterday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors made an extremely unfortunate choice, on the first reading of the prosposed legislation, to ban Yellow Pages – a move that will put hundreds of San Francisco residents out of work, restrict small businesses’ ability to reach consumers, and disenfranchise seniors, as well as Hispanic, Chinese and LBGT communities.

Along with a local coalition of publishers, small businesses, labor and small business groups, I’m encouraging the Board of Supervisors to reconsider their vote based on the strong negative impact that passage of this ordinance will have the San Francisco community.

The industry is continuing its proactive efforts to provide consumers with the ability to reduce or stop delivery of phone books through its official opt-out site, www.yellowpagesoptout.com. The site accomplishes the Board of Supervisor’s goals, without jeopardizing San Francisco’s fragile economy.

How will yesterday’s vote to ban Yellow Pages in San Francisco negatively impact the economy?

  • Small businesses will have a harder time generating new customers and sales will be harmed, putting storefronts and workers at risk. Many small businesses do not have an online presence, or find that Internet advertising isn’t the only solution they need to drive traffic.
  • Directories oriented to targeted markets – including Spanish-speaking, Chinese-speaking, and LGBT communities – will be limited in the distribution models available to them.
  • Thousands of San Francisco citizens involved in the business of publishing and distributing Yellow Pages will be at risk of losing their jobs.
  • Onerous opt-in requirements will make the cost of home distribution nearly impossible for publishers, eliminating the availability of directories to anyone who wants them and increasing the difficulty of obtaining a directory for those who need them.
  • The seven in ten adults who used print directories last year will be significantly inconvenienced when attempting to locate local businesses.

The Board of Supervisors relied on myths and outright distortions about the industry’s environmental impact, production processes, financial impact on the community, advertiser ROI and usage statistics in making their decision. Our industry will continue to oppose any attempt to single out the Yellow Pages industry and will be working with the Supervisors and the Mayor’s office to ensure that the truth about this ill-conceived ordinance becomes known.

We will also inform the public about the potential tax and revenue losses to the city as a result of this legislation, including the decrease in recycling revenues from the city’s curbside recycling program or the cost to taxpayers of a court battle over the Constitutionality of such a law.

Read our press release for more information.

Setting the Record Straight in Seattle

Thursday, May 5, 2011

As we’ve discussed frequently here on the blog, the Local Search Association joined with ADP earlier this year to upgrade www.yellowpagesoptout.com, a nationwide opt-out website that ensures that consumers have an easy way to manage the delivery of phonebooks to their home.

Today in Seattle, the City Council announced the launch of its own government-run website, one that is an unnecessary duplication of our efforts, increases waste, and lacks the efficiencies and privacy guarantees that we worked so hard to incorporate into our site.

To put it bluntly, we think the site is a waste of government’s time and taxpayer’s money and puts the privacy of Seattle residents at risk. The best option for opting out of Yellow Pages directories both in Seattle and across the country continues to be www.yellowpagesoptout.com, which has  successfully processed thousands of opt-out requests since February.

Misinformation from the Seattle City Council also extends to statistics released by Seattle councilmember Mike O’Brien and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) that greatly exaggerate the environmental impact of print directories. This data falsely implies that phone books create 100 pounds of unwanted paper each year per household. According to the city’s own estimates, Seattle recycles approximately 1,500 tons of phone books, or less than 2% of total recyclables each year – a far cry from the 17,500 tons claimed by SPU. In fact, through proactive industry efforts, the amount of directory paper in the market has declined by nearly 35% since 2007.

Read our press release for additional information on the  benefits of www.yellowpagesoptout.com, and our industry’s ongoing efforts to provide valuable and sustainable local search options.

AT&T’s YP.com to Launch ‘Deal of the Day’ in Three Markets

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We heard all about the exciting opportunities that local deals present for local search providers and their advertisers at last month’s “Search Starts Here” conference. This week, a major player announced plans to join an increasingly crowded field with its own take on the daily deals phenomenon.

As major media outlets including Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal are reporting, AT&T’s YP.com will launch a local deals offering – “Deal of the Day” – in about a month in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth. The company, which is now offering a $10 credit for consumers who register for the offering before May 22, said it plans to expand the daily deals site to other cities and offer it on mobile devices. Its website also says that it will offer national deals.

It’s amazing how quickly daily deals sites have caught on among local businesses and consumers. BIA/Kelsey projected in March that consumer spending on local deal sites will likely grow from $873 million to $3.9 billion in the U.S. by 2015, representing a 35% compound annual growth rate.

I look forward to learning more about AT&T’s unique offering and watching others in our industry launch or expand their own daily deals initiatives. Definitely a lot more to come on this.

Keeping the ‘Check-in’ Relevant

Monday, May 2, 2011

When new location-based social networks including Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt – and similar location-based services from sites ranging from Facebook and Google to Yelp – began attracting widespread attention last year, many of us in the industry took note of the opportunities they presented for local businesses to reach consumers on-the-go and digitally spread positive word-of-mouth about their offerings.

According to a recent article on ReadWriteWeb, however, these location-based networks and services are losing their initial momentum. For example, statistics show that Foursquare – the early leader in the “check-in” space – has seen its web traffic decline about 50% over the past five months alone. There are also indications that many of its users are inactive, the article claims.

So what needs to be done to regain initial interest in the “check-in?” The article offers some interesting perspective on ways these offerings can innovate in order to attract more mainstream users and demonstrate added value to local businesses:

  • Socializing: Location-based social networks and services will need to find new ways to make checking-in socially worthwhile, and not simply annoying. Addressing privacy concerns about sharing location will also be key.
  • Deals: Existing location-based deals tend to reward decisions already made by offering discounts to consumers who are already about to make purchases at the local businesses where they check-in. Additionally, these deals are limiting because consumers need to be nearby the businesses in order to receive notification of offers. Sites like Groupon, for example, succeed because their deals can be accessed anywhere.
  • Photos: Photos are extremely popular in the social web, so finding new ways to incorporate them into the “check-in” experience can help reignite interest. Foursquare recently launched a new photos and comments capability.
  • Discovery: Currently, check-ins are limiting because they happen at the time users are at a local business. In effect, they simply rebroadcast decisions users have already made about what to do. The opportunity exists to allow users to search and select where they plan on going before they get there. This will give local businesses the chance to influence the consumers’ actions by intervening and sharing their offers in advance.

For more, read the full ReadWriteWeb article.