Archive for June, 2011

Local Matters Names Tom Higley New CEO

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Last week, Local Matters, a local search technology company, announced that Tom Higley was appointed CEO after a nationwide search.

A longtime serial entrepreneur in the Denver metro area, Tom will lead Local Matters’ strategic vision and help the company capitalize on the rapid evolution of the local search industry with mobile technology and social networking.

Under his leadership, the company will expand its suite of mobile, online and social solutions, including digital loyalty apps, deals syndications tolls and local business listing management. Local Matters will also focus on growing its local search and discovery tools designed to promote local business listings across web and mobile devices.

I look forward to working with Tom in the months and years ahead as we continue to find and leverage new opportunities for growth in the local search industry.

5 Considerations For Connecting With Local Searchers

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In our “Locals Only” column on Search Engine Land this month, I discuss results from our recently released “Local Media Tracking Study” conducted by Burke, and offer five key takeaways for local businesses to consider when planning their advertising strategies:

  • As more consumers search for products and services via online search, local businesses should make extra efforts to ensure that information posted about them is complete and accurate. Local businesses should also encourage customers to post reviews about their work, and they should respond to customers who express dissatisfaction in reviews.
  • Yellow Pages companies today offer integrated print, Internet and mobile solutions that can be targeted to a local business’ customers in order to achieve the highest possible rate of return. Local businesses also should take advantage of new advertising platforms and services, ranging from vertical websites to daily deals.
  • Online social networks are growing fast, but their current reach as a resource for local business information is more limited than other media. Local businesses should invest now in creating active and engaged online communities, and view their efforts as  more about building reputation than driving sales.
  • The ways in which consumers search for local business information are driven in part by demographics – which means your advertising approach should consider your target consumer. Local businesses should keep on top of the latest research about their target customers and try new approaches, but also keep using ad platforms that are working for them.
  • Given today’s fragmented media environment, it’s best to leverage as many local search offerings as possible to promote your business. The Burke study shows that consumers consult two to three sources on average when searching for local business information.

Click here to reach my full column on Search Engine Land.

Yellow Pages Group Puts Focus on Sustainability and Consumer Choice Programs

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We’re continuing our series today on what Yellow Pages companies are doing to make a difference on the environmental and consumer choice fronts by taking a look at Canada’s Yellow Pages Group.

YPG has launched several initiatives in these areas, including:

  • Allowing residents to easily remove their names from the print directory delivery list via the Customer Delivery Program. Residents can opt-out online at www.ypg.com/delivery or by contacting Distribution Services at 1-800-268-5637.
  • Issuing press releases in local communities prior to delivering directories, informing residents about their option to opt-out and encouraging them to recycle old directories.
  • Including an ecoGuide™ at the beginning of each print directory that includes a wide variety of local information and practical tools designed to help Canadians lead greener and more eco-responsible lives.
  • Regularly encouraging waste reduction and recycling efforts across Canada by working with provincial recycling councils nationwide to remind Canadians to recycle their old directories once new ones arrive.
  • Providing background on the company’s environmental commitment and related key milestones via a dedicated website, www.ypg.com/enviornment.

Additionally, through several initiatives, YPG has reduced its usage of paper by 25% over the past two years. The company’s residential white pages deliveries—which have very different usage than Yellow Pages or business listings— are now delivered on-demand in Canada’s eight largest markets.

For more information on the industry’s collective efforts, read our 2011 Sustainability Report. And check back here as we continue our series on what Yellow Pages companies are doing to proactively address environmental and consumer choice concerns.

Dex One Partners with Google on AdWords

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In a move announced yesterday that received high-profile media coverage, Dex One and Google announced that they have entered into a strategic agreement to make Dex One one of a handful of companies that serve as Google AdWords Certified Partners. As background, Google AdWords is a popular service that allows businesses of all sizes to display their ads next to relevant searches for specific products and services on Google and its partner networks.

According to the release, the AdWords partnership will help Dex One customers better optimize their lead generation activities, leverage local search, enhance their digital presence and compete in a changing marketplace.

As part of the agreement, Dex One will receive integrated marketing support, training, engineering support, optimization services, and access to new products from Google. The partnership will strengthen Dex One’s customers’ marketing efforts by providing state-of-the-art technology and enable experienced Google consultants to provide technical training to Dex One’s 1,500 local marketing consultants.

I think this announcement illustrates the primary strengths that local search companies—including Yellow Pages companies such as Dex One—bring to the marketplace: unmatched relationships with local businesses, and the ability to provide those businesses with innovative integrated advertising solutions.

I’m glad to hear that this announcement will help Dex One achieve its goal of 30% of total revenue coming from digital sales by the end of 2012. I hope it’s the beginning of something of real value, not only for Dex One and its customers, but for our industry as a whole.

Overview of AT&T’s Sustainability and Consumer Choice Initiatives

Friday, June 17, 2011

In a continuation of our series about sustainability and consumer choice programs at Yellow Pages companies, today we’re going to take a look at what AT&T is doing on these fronts.

AT&T’s initiatives include:

  • AT&T and its suppliers use environmentally responsible production methods. This includes the use of recycled paper waste and leftover scraps of sawdust and woodchips from lumber production processes in manufacturing the paper used in AT&T’s directories. Its suppliers use inks that contain soy oils that are friendlier to the environment; they do not use elemental chlorine bleach in their processes. AT&T, through its supplier contracts, requires environmentally sustainable practices by its directory production vendors.
  • For several years, AT&T has enabled consumers to call its customer service number to opt out of directory delivery. Currently, AT&T directories nationwide include a green box on their covers with information on AT&T’s own directory opt-out site, www.att.com/mydirectories, and a toll free number,1-866-329-7118. Beginning with its August publications, AT&T will convert its covers to include the industry opt-out site, www.yellowpagesoptout.com, as a substitute for AT&T’s own site. The AT&T toll-free number will continue to remain on the covers. AT&T is also incorporating the industry opt out site on its delivery bags, recycling flyers and other appropriate materials.
  • AT&T operates approximately 70 Project ReDirectory initiatives, community-based recycling programs. Some of these programs are in partnership with Keep America Beautiful local affiliates, while others are with schools or local municipalities. These programs are designed to promote the collection and recycling of directories. Directories are recycled into animal bedding, bathroom tissue, cereal boxes, roofing shingles and new phone books. Messages about the ability of consumers to reduce, change or stop directory delivery are included as part of the programs.
  • All AT&T directory covers include a message about the importance of recycling the book at the end of its lifecycle and include a toll free number, 1-800-953-4400, that enables a caller to enter their zip code and learn about local recycling options.
  • AT&T has implemented a number of strategies and product changes over the last several years that have significantly reduced both the amount of paper and number of directories distributed in local communities. AT&T remains committed to pursuing additional changes in the future.
  • AT&T led the industry with an initiative to give consumers a choice about whether to receive a stand-alone Residential White Pages.  (Residential listings are used very differently—and less—than business listings or advertising.  AT&T’s initiative will be in 58 markets by the end of 2011.)
  • AT&T provides all consumers with many choices for finding local business information. In addition to its most-used AT&T Real Yellow Pages, it helps consumers and businesses connect online through YP.com and RealPagesLive.com, and while mobile, on the popular YPmobile app.

For more information on the industry’s collective efforts read our 2011 Sustainability Report, and check back here as we continue our series on what Yellow Pages companies are doing to proactively address environmental and consumer choice concerns.

Valley Yellow Pages Makes Sustainability and Consumer Choice Key Priorities

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In recent weeks, we’ve blogged about what Yellow Pages companies including Yellowbook and Dex One are each doing on the environmental and consumer choice fronts. Today, we’re continuing our series by taking a look at Valley Yellow Pages.

Valley’s most notable activities include:

  • Making a large effort to promote recycling and the industry’s national opt-out site, www.yellowpagesoptout.com.  Valley is placing the URL directly on the front and back covers of every directory, on the A1 page, in filler inside the directory, and on its website, MyYP.com.
  • Dedicating two pages within the intro pages of each directory that provide information on how Yellow Pages are green, including where directory paper comes from, how they are 100% recyclable and represent a low percentage of waste in landfills, how they compare to electronic waste, and information on current Yellow Pages usage.
  • Expanding on the two pages found in directories through additional information on MyYP.com, including a recycling guide, background on Valley’s environmentally conscious vendors, details on a directory’s lifecycle, and specifics on ways to recycle Yellow Pages and opt-out of deliveries.

For more information on the industry’s collective efforts, read our 2011 Sustainability Report. And check back here as we continue our series on what Yellow Pages companies are doing to proactively address environmental and consumer choice concerns.

In Evolving Media Landscape, Yellow Pages and Search Engines Are Go-To Sources for Consumers Shopping Locally

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last year, we launched a new study from Burke that looks at habits of consumers searching for local business information among various local media.  The Local Media Tracking Study is an important one for our industry because it takes a comprehensive view on local media, and this year we’ve expanded it to include social networks as part of the questionnaire.

The findings from this year’s report show an increasingly fragmented media marketplace, with consumers consulting two to three sources of local information on average when making a purchase.  They are still using their Yellow Pages – either print, online, or both – but search engines have increased their reach over last year’s study.  Today, Yellow Pages and search engines dominate the local search space among all media.  Last year, 84% of people used a Yellow Pages product and 76% used a search engine to find a local business.

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The key takeaway for the local business advertiser is that the most successful approach to marketing is an integrated one.  You can’t ignore any medium, and you have to take a look at how your print Yellow Pages ad, your Internet Yellow Pages listing, your website, your SEO program, and your social networking platforms can all work together to reach the most customers possible.

Because our industry’s history is firmly rooted in Yellow Pages, I watch with interest how the increasingly fragmented media landscape impacts print directories.  What’s notable is that, despite the dramatic increase in popularity in digital channels, print directories continue to be a trusted source of information with usage that is quite high – much higher than many people expect.

In 2010, consumers generated 11 billion references to print Yellow pages. (comScore found that Internet Yellow Pages generated 5.6 billion searches in 2010, for a Yellow Pages industry total of 16.6 in 2010.)

More than 7 out of 10 (74%) consumers say they use print Yellow Pages, and 78% say they use print directories (either a print Yellow Pages or a business white pages).  Even if the total number of lookups in print has dropped slightly, the quality of these leads for businesses is very high – nearly 8 in 10 print Yellow Pages lookups resulted in a purchase or purchase intent.

Additionally, Yellow Pages products continue to perform well with consumer perceptions. Consumers say Yellow Pages are the most trusted, most accurate source they choose first when searching for local business information.  Consumers also rate Yellow Pages as the first chosen, easiest and most convenient to access, and the source they find “best in class” for finding information on local businesses.

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A new entry on our survey this year is social networks.  Certainly, social networks capture significant attention among media and industry observers.  And while the survey is clear that social networks are important for businesses to consider – 32% said they used an Internet social network to find a local business – they do not yet have the reach that Yellow Pages and search engines have established.  I expect we’ll see this number grow next year.

If you’d like to understand more about how the study is conducted, take a look at our post from last year outlining the methodology used in the Burke study. Click here to read our press release with additional information about this year’s study.

Yellowbook, AT&T Launch Updated Tablet Apps

Monday, June 13, 2011

As consumers increasingly adopt iPads and tablets, local search companies are continuing to refine their business listings apps to provide users with newer features.

Last week, Yellowbook announced the launch of a new version of its U.S. Yellow Pages application designed for Android tablets. The new app features map-based business listing results, and users can quickly find a business by searching the business name or category or by browsing popular categories, their search history or nearby businesses.

The map-based interaction is an easy way for consumers to quickly access whether a particular business is in a convenient location  for them. For example, a user can coordinate visiting local businesses close by to one another to avoid extra travel time.

Late last month, AT&T updated its YP Yellow Pages app for iPad. The app, available in the Navigation category in the App Store, introduces faster access to local deals. The app also takes advantage of the iPad’s printing capabilities, allowing users to cash in on local merchant discounts both online and in-person through digital and printable coupons.

Additionally, the app features an updated look and feel, new features that support a faster connection to local businesses and better sharing capabilities.

For more information, read the Yellowbook release and the AT&T YP release.

Publishers File Suit in San Francisco to Challenge Yellow Pages Ordinance

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yesterday, we made the difficult decision to file suit against the City and County of San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Edwin Lee asking the U.S. District Court to overturn the city’s controversial new Yellow Pages ordinance, which effectively bans the distribution of Yellow Pages.

We are disappointed that we are left with no other alternative. The city’s rationale for restricting Yellow Pages is unconstitutional, in that it leaves no discernible limits to the government’s power to suppress the free distribution of information. By singling out Yellow Pages – while other sources produce 99 percent of paper waste – the ordinance is arbitrary and irrational.

Additionally, we believe the ordinance disenfranchises residents without Internet access – including lower income, seniors and ethnic communities – and those that simply prefer print directories to find vital local civic and business information.

This is not an action we take lightly. For years, we have worked to improve the San Francisco community by providing residents with important local civic and business information. We are disappointed that we now need to sue the city in order to provide our services to its residents and local businesses. That said, we believe there are limits to any city’s ability to control how we distribute community information, whether it is print or online.

Our industry firmly believes in consumer choice, and has developed a single, easy-to-use site to stop or limit delivery of directories at www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

Read our press release for more information on why we are moving forward with this suit in San Francisco.

Yellow Pages Group Announces Strategic Agreement with Foursquare

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Late last year, we shared news about Yellow Pages Group’s beta launch of YellowAPI.com, the company’s first public application interface. The tool, available to developers across platforms, provides YPG with the unique ability to stream its top Canadian local search content directly to third-party sites and applications.

Today, YPG expanded its commitment to supporting application developer innovation – and in the process driving additional potential leads to its advertisers – by announcing its participation in the “venue harmonization project” of Foursquare, the popular location-based social networking site. YPG is the first Canadian company to participate in the program, which currently includes The New York Times, New York Magazine, Thrillist and MenuPages as partners.

The project is an effort by Foursquare to improve the accuracy of business locations in its database. As part of the agreement, YPG will share its 1.5 million Canadian business listings with Foursquare through its API platform. In turn, the partnership will also allow hundreds of developers using the API to integrate Foursquare functionality into their apps.

I think this agreement has two important takeaways for those following our industry. First, that a forward-thinking Yellow Pages company is creating the tools necessary to develop and leverage a relationship with a newer local search player to benefit both companies. And secondly, that the accurate and trusted listings found in Yellow Pages continue to be unmatched in the marketplace.

I look forward to seeing this relationship play out.