Archive for November, 2012

Key Takeaways from Day 2 at the NLC Conference

Friday, November 30, 2012

I attended a number of presentations yesterday at the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition here in Boston, including one on 2012 city fiscal conditions. The overall outlook was bleak as cities are still suffering from lower revenue and depletion of reserves which are resulting in a continued need to lower costs. Many cities are suspending infrastructure investment, laying off workers and cutting services in order to make ends meet.

As I learned during the discussion, sometimes all these efforts are not enough.  The NLC cited cities that were on the brink of bankruptcy, cities in more than $100 million in debt, and cities laying off hundreds of staff including police and firefighters. One example shared was one town in New Jersey that was forced to lay off most of its police force despite serious crime in its neighborhoods.

In times like these, cities need all the external support they can get to address issues in their communities. I know that when it comes to our industry, we are making efforts to do our part. Our national consumer choice website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com provides cities with a free solution to address unwanted phone directories by residents. Our industry – rather than governments and taxpayers – picks up the tab for this offering, because it’s the right thing to do. We also partner with local officials to get the word out to their constituents about this resource.

I was also interested to learn that the NLC recently took over the Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI). This program will become the main platform for NLC to support sustainability efforts of its member cities. It is an online platform to assist cities with identifying, planning for and implementing sustainability initiatives. I plan to explore how our industry might work with the SCI to incorporate our consumer choice website into its toolbox of solutions for cities.

Neg Norton and I continued to make many contacts with local officials from Georgia, Idaho, Missouri and Arizona through various events at the conference. In particular, I continued to have a good time getting to know Asian American city officials such as San Jose, California councilmember Kansen Chu. We bantered with other local officials from California, testing one another’s proficiency in Cantonese (my home dialect) and Mandarin. I was also approached by Mayor Conrad Lee of Bellevue, Washington, who asked that we reconnect after the conference.

Yellowbook’s Matt Krug, YP’s Jim Troup and Dex One’s Tim Foster said a significant number of local officials stopped by our industry’s exhibition booth. The consensus among many of the leaders they spoke with was that print directories were by and large not viewed as a significant issue in their communities. In fact, some city officials who stopped by were small business owners who either advertised in the Yellow Pages or who understood the value of the phone directories in driving new business.

Stay tuned for more updates from the NLC conference!

NLC Conference: Asian Pacific American Municipal Officers Business Meeting

Friday, November 30, 2012

This week, I had the great opportunity to attend the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officers’ business meeting here at the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition in Boston.

Many of the officials represent city and towns in California and Washington, where there has been a high interest in regulating distribution of print directories. I was glad to be able to address the group briefly to introduce the Local Search Association and overview our industry’s voluntary sustainability and consumer choice efforts, including the national availability of www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.

The group was intimate enough for me to also engage in one-on-one discussions with many of the officials to get to know them on a personal level as well as receive some tips on what they felt would be effective outreach efforts by our industry.

Evan Low, vice mayor of Campbell, California and president of the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officers, suggested that our industry take a proactive approach to our messaging so that city officials learn about our voluntary solutions before they proposed ordinances regarding directories. He also acknowledged that neighboring cities frequently borrow ordinance language from one another, so setting good precedent is always important. Gilbert Wong, a city councilmember in Cupertino, California, said that while many city officials are supportive of local business, they also have constituents who have significant interest in environmental protections. That said, he acknowledged that he appreciates businesses that have active sustainability initiatives.

I look forward to building stronger relationships with communities across the country and working together to address our shared interest in resolving questions and issues regarding directory delivery.

 

Product Stewardship and the Yellow Pages Industry

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is the role of government in product stewardship?  This question was posed to me as one of five panelists on yesterday’s Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) webinar. Many government officials and recycling professionals listened in, and other panelists included:

According to PSI’s invitation, the purpose of the webinar discussion was to discern, “…whether key [product stewardship] program principles, such as transparency and accountability, are best attained through voluntary, mandatory, or hybrid programs that encompass elements from both approaches.”

During the webinar, I stressed that it is important to not lump all of private industry together when considering how to regulate the environmental impact of products in the marketplace.  Government leaders and other key stakeholders should look at what each individual industry is doing and not take a one-size-fits-all approach.

As we know, many states and cities are feeling the budget pinch, and taxpayer money has to be carefully prioritized to protect public health and safety.  The bigger the threat, the greater need for government.

Certainly, hazardous products require government oversight in order to protect consumers from injury. As the ACA’s Alison Keane noted, paint is the top household hazardous waste product. That is why the ACA founded “PaintCare,” a non-profit program to manage the reuse, recycling and proposal disposal of unused paint. This industry-support effort is in conjunction with government oversight initiatives that include a per-can assessment fee, convenient paint collection and a management system run by manufacturers.

However, a telephone directory does not present the safety hazards that paint can. And when it comes to the print Yellow Pages, we know that voluntary self-regulation through industry-led efforts works best for consumers, small businesses, and most importantly, taxpayers.

Our industry has been proactive in reducing the carbon footprint of our products and has generated significant results.  Last year, we re-launched our successful, industry-funded consumer website, www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. The site, which is provided at no cost to consumers or cities, enables residents and local businesses to choose which directories they receive or stop delivery altogether.  The recycling rate for print directories is high and the impact of phone books on the municipal waste stream is miniscule.  Moreover, over the past five years, our industry has undergone a 50% reduction of paper use for directory production.

Another factor is whether government and an industry are aligned in their goals. For our industry, we have a common desire with government to reduce the number of unwanted directories.  Publishers do not want to incur the cost of printing and delivering a product to a household that does not intend to use it.  Local government wants to reduce unwanted directory deliveries but often have competing budgetary demands.  So, the industry offers a free solution: a website where consumers can opt-out of phone directory delivery.

Mr. Lifset included in one of his presentation slides that there is, “No sound science to support effectiveness of voluntary approaches to environmental policy,” and that the, “Majority of voluntary schemes collect little or no data… no data, no evidence!”  I disagree. For one, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) provides us with credible data on the success of our efforts.  Back in 2009, the EPA determined that directories made up three-tenths of one percent of the of discarded paper & paperboard products in the municipal waste stream.  Now, however, the EPA has determined that phone directories are such a small part of the municipal waste stream that they no longer see a need to track the product separately.

Mr. Martin noted that Australia had a 77.7% recovery rate for newsprint in 2011.  That is very common to the recycling rate for newsprint in the U.S. – which includes telephone directories – of 71.6%.  Whether or not the Australian rate includes telephone directories is secondary to the larger point of the commonness and success in paper recycling globally.

While our industry continues to responsibly self-regulate the production, distribution and disposal of our products, we believe that government can play an important role in communicating solutions and options to the public.  I shared with the webinar listeners an overview of the collaborative press releases that our industry has issued with state and local lawmakers across the country, several of whom are noted as strong advocates of the environment.

I’m glad that our industry had this opportunity to share our positive story with interested parties on the PSI webinar, and I look forward to continued dialogue.

Gearing Up for BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West Conference Next Week

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It’s not too late to register for BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West conference, taking place next Tuesday-Thursday, December 4-6 at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles!

The event agenda is jam-packed with a variety of exciting speakers from across the local search industry. I’m particularly excited for the following sessions:

  • Search for It! Local Online Retail Innovation: comScore’s Matt Archer, Where2GetIt’s Manish Patel, and Kenshoo Local’s Paul Wicker will discuss how the development of product listing ads driving Google Shopping, map insertion and enhanced locators have altered the online shopping landscape.
  • SuperForum: Mobile’s Impact on Interactive Local Media: National to Local: This four part series will look at the mobile local opportunity, local targeting and the evolution of mobile ads, the intersection between mobile and local, and how local businesses can plant the mobile flag. Representatives from BIA/Kelsey, Verve Mobile, xAd, Locu, JiWire, WillowTree Apps, and Duda Mobile will guide the conversation.
  • The Advertiser SuperForum: A section of this conversation will feature Maya Kermath, former business development director for AT&T, who launched KOR180, a new fitness studio in Austin. One would think her deep experience should help make launching an SMB easy, right? Not so fast. Mari will discuss the promise and the pitfalls and what she is learning about digital marketing as a small business owner.

In addition to the speakers and panels, there will also be some great networking opportunities and a chance to meet with innovative companies looking for partners, vendors and advisors.

So book your hotel room, register for the event and pack your bags for LA! And if you can’t make it, check back on our blog next week for live blogging of our favorite sessions.

NLC’s Congress of Cities and Exposition Kicks Off in Boston

Thursday, November 29, 2012

We’re on-site at the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition at the Boston Convention Center & Exposition Center this week, as more than 3,000 mayors, city managers, city council members, government staff and industry corporate partners gather to discuss, among other topics, ways for cities to build more sustainable communities.

Yesterday, Dex One’s Tim Foster, Yellowbook’s Matt Krug and YP’s Jim Troup set up Booth #1149 in the Sustainability Pavilion in the Exhibition Hall in preparation for the event, which officially begins today.

In the evening, Neg and I attended the NLC’s Board of Directors reception and dinner, where we had the opportunity to meet with a variety of attendees. Notably, Neg spoke with Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin about our industry’s desire to work with the City of Seattle to address its concerns about directory delivery and update them on positive developments when it comes to our sustainability and consumer choice initiatives.

At dinner, we had the chance to talk one-on-one with Melodee Colbert Kean, the recently elected mayor of Joplin, Missouri. Mayor Colbert Kean, who is the first African-American to be elected as mayor of Joplin, was a very engaging woman and told us stories about how her city was recovering from the devastating 2011 tornado. She discussed how one-third of the city was damaged or destroyed and that more than 160 lives were lost in the storm.

But Mayor Colbert Kean also emphasized how her city is emerging from the destruction with a new hope and vision. She said rebuilding is taking place with a master plan – including the construction of a vibrant city center – to make the city more attractive to new residents and businesses. As part of the rebuilding, the Mayor said she recognized the usefulness of phone directories in helping local businesses in Joplin attract new customers, in addition to providing residents with useful information to use in emergencies like a storm.

Mayor Colbert Kean did note that she believes some residents would prefer to opt-out of directory delivery. She was so encouraged to learn about our consumer choice website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com that she tweeted about it from the dinner table. The Mayor said she looks forward to gauging interest in the tool from her constituents and will report back to us.

A very exciting and productive kick-off to what we know will be a very productive week. Stay tuned for additional updates from the NLC conference!

IAB, MMA and MRC Update Mobile Web Advertising Measurement Guidelines

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

IAB

In a move to make mobile impression counts more “robust and reliable”, industry groups including the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), and the Media Ratings Council (MRC) have released updated guidelines for mobile web advertising measurement. The new guidelines impact mobile measurement definitions, click measurement considerations, general reporting parameters and auditing recommendations.

The groups proposed that client-side counting for mobile web ad impressions be required to help limit discrepancies. They also recommended that the mobile advertising industry work on a standardized definition of viewable impressions.

“Our objective is to ensure that mobile remains a valued component of the marketing mix with clear, actionable guidelines in place,” said Michael Becker, managing director of MMA North America.

For details on the recent updates, visit IAB’s website.

Local Search Industry to Attend National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Later this week, the local search industry will participate as exhibitors at the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition at the Boston Convention Center & Exposition Center. This year’s event, which is set to attract more than 3,000 local leaders from cities across the U.S., will highlight ways for cities to develop partnerships and strategies for building sustainable communities.

Neg Norton and I will be joined by Dex One’s Tim Foster, Yellowbook’s Matt Krug and YP’s Jim Troup at Booth #1149 in the Sustainability Pavilion in the Exhibition Hall, where we will meet with local leaders to share information on our industry’s sustainability and consumer choice efforts, and discuss ways in which our industry can partner with communities to address questions and issues related to directory delivery. In our conversations, we will reference many of the same topics I included in a recent column for the National League of Cities’ weekly e-newsletter, which overviewed the ways Yellow Pages drive local economies and sustainability.

Our attendance at the NLC conference is the latest example of our work to share our industry’s story with community leaders across the country. Over the past year, we’ve worked with legislators from Washington State and California to Illinois and Connecticut to give them a better understanding of our sustainability efforts and help raise local visibility for www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. Additionally, we’ve attended national and local events including the International City/County Management Association’s annual conference, the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) Recycling Summit 2012, the California Resource Recovery Association conference, among others, to meet local leaders and find ways for communities and our industry to better work together.

We look forward to a great NLC conference. Check back here on the blog for updates throughout the event!

LSA’s Neg Norton to Participate in Product Stewardship Institute Webinar

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) will host an expert panel webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, November 27 at 1 p.m. ET, about the intersection between government and industry in attaining high performing product stewardship programs. The webinar will address whether key program principles are best attained through voluntary, mandatory or hybrid programs.

We’re pleased that our very own Neg Norton will present our industry’s story on the webinar as one of two industry participants. The discussion, which will be moderated by PSI founder and CEO Scott Cassel, will also include input from academic and government leaders.

Please RSVP with PSI to listen in on the conversation. The event is free to PSI full members and sustaining partners, and payment options are available for others as well.

‘Small Business Saturday’ Offers More Proof that Local Pays Off

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Now in its third year, American Express’ Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, November 23. Sandwiched between popular Black Friday and emerging Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday draws attention to our local economy drivers and trusted community partners: small businesses.

As part of the initiative, American Express is giving its cardholders a $25 statement credit when they shop at a participating small business.

As you may know, earlier this year, the Local Search Association launched its Local Pays Off platform which promotes local business and encourages consumers to buy within their communities. We commend American Express for continuing this program that gets local businesses the attention they deserve at one of the busiest shopping times of the year.

Local businesses not only benefit the hometown economy by generating local tax revenue and creating jobs, they strengthen a town’s core by providing vibrant offerings and traditions unique to each locale. Buying local also helps maintain sustainable communities; requiring less transportation, shopping close to home reduces sprawl, congestion and energy usage.

This holiday season, whether you shop on Small Business Saturday or at the very last minute, please keep local communities in mind and remember to Buy Local! And of course, take advantage of local print and online directories, mobile apps, and other similar offerings that our industry provides to help get you there.

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

SuperMedia: Seeing Success

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Check out SuperMedia’s new “Seeing Success” ad campaign! The campaign highlights what local search marketing consultants can do for small businesses across local, mobile and digital platforms.

Take a look below, we think it looks great!