As 2012 comes to a close, I want to take a step back to reflect on the important progress we’ve made as an industry this year. Whether it’s the changes our major publishers have made to reposition themselves for future growth, the strong partnerships we’ve developed with government officials and environmental groups to raise awareness for our consumer choice program, or the efforts we’ve undergone to improve our environmental impact, our industry has faced our challenges head-on with positive results.
Here’s a recap of some highlights from 2012:
- In January, we learned that the EPA had stopped measuring directories individually in its annual municipal solid waste report, instead grouping them with newsprint and other mechanical paper. This signaled that directories are making up an even tinier portion of paper in the waste stream – so small that the EPA determined that they don’t need to be measured separately. The report also indicated that a strong 71% of the paper used in directories, newspapers and similar products are being recycled.
- In February, a group of Washington State lawmakers announced their support for our industry’s national consumer choice website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. Rep. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle said that, “This effort is a great example of how the government can work with the private sector to achieve results. Through some common-sense self-regulation, we avoid solving the problem by enacting more laws or government regulations.”
- In March, former Denver mayor Wellington Webb joined with the LSA to “share our side of the story” by raising awareness of the value of print Yellow Pages in local communities. Mayor Webb also advocated for our industry’s consumer choice program as the best solution to the issue of unwanted directories. Also, SuperMedia’s mobile app won the prestigious MediaPost 2012 Appy Award in the “Marketing/Branding/Advertising” category.
- In April, we hosted our annual conference, “Search Starts Here,” at the beautiful Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida, featuring great speakers and panelists from Dex One, SuperMedia, MapQuest, Aspen Dental and more. We released our 2012 Sustainability Report, “Thrive in Perpetuity,” which referenced that source reductions by our industry will drive a 50% reduction in paper use for print directories by the end of 2012 versus 2007. Additionally, AT&T announced plans to sell a majority stake of its Yellow Pages business to Cerberus Capital Management, forming the new YP Holdings. Yell also made some important announcements, including the addition of a new Yellowbook president and Yell chief customer experience officer.
- In May, Yell Group announced plans to rebrand its corporate identity as hibu, which is meant to convey the company’s mission of connecting communities and helping them thrive. The company said, “In addition to being consumer oriented and a symbol in its own right, we wanted our identity to tell a story.” This month, AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive officially became YP Holdings.
- In June, we launched Local Pays Off, our industry’s pledge to promote local businesses and the benefits of buying close to home. Additionally, the New York chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses asked New York State’s Assembly and Senate Environmental Conservation Committees to defeat a bill that would regulate the delivery of Yellow Pages to state residents. The group said, “Yellow Pages have been and continue to be of vital importance to small business owners.
- In July, LSA announced the results of our annual Local Media Tracking study, which demonstrated continued strong usage of print directories; high trust, accuracy and preference indicators; and an increase in the number of calls generated by print Yellow Pages in the past year. Also, SuperMedia rolled out a new advertising campaign highlighting its Superpages mobile app, YP.com launched a refreshed homepage, and Yell debuted a comprehensive corporate social responsibility program.
- In August, Dex One and SuperMedia announced plans to merge into a new company called Dex Media, creating a national provider of social, local and mobile solutions through direct relationships with local businesses. Also, LSA attended the 2012 California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) conference to raise awareness among attendees for our industry’s sustainability efforts and consumer choice program.
- In September, CIO Leadership Network identified Michael Dunn, chief information officer at SuperMedia, as one of its annual Top 10 Breakaway Leaders.
- In October, in a highly anticipated and positive decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” under the First Amendment, striking down Seattle’s discriminatory phone book law. The decision protects all media, including Yellow Pages, from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and cost taxpayer dollars. Also, the industry attended the ICMA conference in Phoenix and partnered with Illinois State Rep. Bill Cunningham to raise awareness for www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.
- In November, Yellowbook, YP, Dex One and LSA attended the National League of Cities conference in Boston. The conference attracted more than 3,000 mayors, city managers, city council members, government staff and industry corporate partners who gathered to discuss, among other topics, ways for cities to build more sustainable communities. Also this month, LSA’s Neg Norton participated in a Product Stewardship Institute webinar to discuss how Yellow Pages companies have successfully addressed their environmental impact. Additionally, LSA celebrated the 15th annual America Recycles Day, a national initiative of Keep America Beautiful, by developing a toolkit that provided organizers with instructions on how to set up events focused on showing consumers how to control phone book delivery at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.
And as we end the year, we look ahead to what we know will be another great year for our industry as it transforms itself to meet the new opportunities and challenges of today’s changing media environment.
Wesley Young, our vice president of Public Policy, will be taking over the helm of the Local Insider blog, as I’ll be leaving the Association on December 31. Your LSA team will continue to focus on the local search industry, environmental stewardship and product innovation, and keep you in the loop through the LSA web site, the annual Conference (April 13-16 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas) as well as our Twitter and Facebook sites.
We wish all of our members and readers a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!