Archive for December, 2012

Local Search Industry Makes Significant Strides in 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

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 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 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 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!

YP: 30% of Search Queries Now Coming from Mobile

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Approximately 30% of overall search volume and lookups for local business information via YP offerings now come from mobile devices, according to YP’s end-of-the-year Local Insights Digital Report.

The report, based on more than 2.2 billion searches across YP’s online and mobile offerings in 2012, demonstrated a great year for YP. Local search volume via YP offerings continued to grow this year, with users making an average of 350,000 more local searches everyday than last year. Mobile searches via YP offerings were up 25% year-over-year. YP searches via iPads were up 233%, while searches on Android devices were up 205%.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Medical and health care related searches are growing, with consumers searching 61% more this past year in related categories.
  • Restaurants continue to dominate local search, comprising 17% of mobile searches on YP’s network and 10% of all searches.
  • New York City was the “Local Search City Capital” of the year for YP, narrowing edging out Houston and Los Angeles with the most searches made in a city.

YP’s report is good news for the company and the industry as a whole. It shows that our digital and mobile products continue to be widely adopted by consumers as their search habits expand to new platforms.

Click here to read YP’s full report.

HuffPost: ‘The solution might be as simple as remember to check the phone book’

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In a column on the Huffington Post, reporter Gillian Frew makes a strong argument for the ongoing value of print media, specifically phone books, in today’s increasingly digital world.

Recently, Frew was researching genealogy information for a story. She searched Google and looked through several online genealogy forums, without success. It wasn’t until Frew referenced the phone book that she was able to find the family she was looking for – including key background information like names, phone numbers and addresses.

Frew said the experience should, “be a lesson to all young reporters out there: In the digital age, with more information available online than before, we still need to remember the basics. To scope out stores and suss out sources, reporters must rely on all of the tools at our disposal, both hi-tech and low. Sometimes, when all else fails, the solution might be as simple as remembering to check the phone book.”

While Frew’s story had to do with white pages, her experience mirrors the role that Yellow Pages play in helping consumers find basic local business information. Research shows that consumers continue to cite print and Internet Yellow Pages as among the most accurate and trusted source of local business information. Yellow Pages’ complete listings not only help consumers, they ensure that local businesses can easily and effectively capture potential customers who are ready to make a purchase.

Take a look at Frew’s column and let us know what you think.

 

7 Key Takeaways From BIA/Kelsey’s ILM Conference

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In my Locals Only column posted today on Search Engine Land, I shared 7 key takeaways from BIA/Kelsey’s jam-packed ILM West conference last week in Los Angeles.

As we head into 2013, local businesses have some important trends to consider when developing their marketing plans. The ways in which consumers are both searching and finding local businesses are rapidly changing, and local businesses and marketers are quickly adapting to take advantage of new opportunities to drive business in the door.

Read my full column on Search Engine Land.

More from Day 2 at the BIA/Kelsey ILM Conference

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another great session yesterday at Day 2 of the BIA/Kelsey ILM Conference, entitled “The ‘New’ Newspaper: New Users, New Reach, New Revenues,” focused on the future of the newspaper industry. The session, moderated by Peter Krasilovsky, VP and Program Director at BIA/Kelsey, featured Dallas Morning News Publisher and CEO Jim Moroney III and San Diego Union-Tribune President and COO Mike Hodges and.

Newspaper industry innovations are always interesting to those of us with a traditional Yellow Pages background. Both newspapers and phone directory publishers have legacy systems, print products, embedded resources – and of course, similar challenges in today’s increasingly fragmented media market.

Moroney talked about how he is working with his team at the Dallas Morning News to ensure that the paper’s core advertising assets are being leveraged to their full advantage. He said that content marketing is at the core of the Dallas Morning News’ expansion: relevant, high-quality, targeted and interesting content that drives a consumer to make a decision or purchase.

To deploy existing assets to full advantage, Moroney created “508 Digital,” a new group backed by the Dallas Morning News’ trusted name, which is specifically tasked with reaching out to small businesses with an affordable, self-serve platform solution. For the paper’s larger existing customers (retailers, automotive, etc.), Moroney is developing another new business line, “Speakeasy.” This line is helping to increase sales with high quality content provided in partnership with an agency.

Moroney said that Dallas Morning News’ 125-year history in the market and its full spectrums of choices are giving his customers the confidence they need to continue doing business with the publication.

Asked if digital can save the newspaper industry, Moroney advised that new lines of business are needed to ensure the growth necessary for a healthy future.

Hodges discussed his digital background and said he harbors no preconceived notions about how to grow his business. The San Diego Union-Tribune is no longer just a newspaper, and his goal is to serve his advertisers regardless of the platform.

His publication entered the daily deal arena and is generating $13 million in new revenues as a result. U-T also started a rewards program for customers who demonstrate loyalty to local businesses.

In addition, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s broadcast business, UTTV, leverages 160 newsroom content providers to create sponsored content. Cox and AT&T UVerse are among the partners working with U-T TV.

Hodges said his future initiatives include a digital agency, real estate and mortgage brokerages, and a coffee delivery service with the morning paper.

All of these initiatives add up to some impressive innovation in a legacy product and great use of embedded assets. I think these developments definitely deserve some attention as our industry tackles some very similar issues.

Day 2 at the BIA/Kelsey ILM Conference

Thursday, December 6, 2012

After a “musical” networking event Tuesday night that kept everyone entertained, Day 2 of the BIA/Kelsey ILM Conference kicked off yesterday with several strong presentations, including an interview with Google’s Todd Rowe and a keynote by CityGrid’s Jason Finger.

My favorite panel, “Search for It! Local Online Retail Innovation,” featured a great group including comScore’s Matt Archer, Where2GetIt’s Manish Patel and Kenshoo Local’s Paul Wicker. In just a half hour, the group discussed key insights into this year’s holiday shopping figures and product listing ads (PLAs).

To provide some context on where things stand in the online shopping space these days, here are some quick facts:

  • The 2012 shopping season is off to a great start, up online sales up nearly 17% year-over-year.
  • PCs still leading the way for online shopping, according to Archer.
  • Cyber Monday sales have leapfrogged from $484 million in 2005 to $1.4 billion this year!
  • Research shows that sales via mobile and tablets are gaining quickly, with tablets dominating the evening hours, as shoppers use them from the couch or in bed while watching TV.
  • Mobile apps dominate access for most of the leading pure-play online retailers, with Amazon and eBay topping the list.

Wicker, who in a past life worked as a YP sales rep, described how his time in the job led him to love working with SMBs. He said he wants to help SMBs better understand the value of PLAs. Wicker talked about how Kenshoo Local has developed an algorithm to help SMBs increase the impact of their PLAs, noting that beta tests so far have showed positive metrics in terms of cost per call and ad effectiveness.

Patel said the solution for SMB advertisers is to embrace the online ecosystem by claiming their locations and verifying the consistency and accuracy of their data. He said no matter the size of one’s local business or number of locations, each one should have its own website to ensure accurate local content and optimized search results.

The panel closed with an interesting discussion of the ways to attract service companies to employ their own version of PLAs – or in this case SLAs: service listing ads. While all agreed that strong e-commerce capabilities are a requirement, the group felt that SMBs have a long way to go in that area.

The panel did a great job of leaving the audience wanting more, and several folks lined up to chat with the panelists at the session’s conclusion.

Market Authority Finds Urban YP Usage Remains Strong

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Market Authority

New research from analyst firm Market Authority shows that print Yellow Pages usage not only remains strong in rural areas, but is also a key player in the local search experience in urban areas as well.

Market Authority conducted more than 39,000 live interviews across the country with both urban and rural consumers. Their research found that perceptions of low print Yellow Pages usage among urbanites is “highly exaggerated.” The firm found that 67% of consumers in urban households report using the print directory at least occasionally when searching for local businesses.

Results from rural markets were even stronger, with nearly 90% of consumers interviewed reporting they use print directories at least occasionally when searching for local businesses. Across both urban and rural markets, Market Authority found that print usage skews much higher with baby boomers and seniors.

This report tracks closely with our most recent annual Local Media Tracking Survey, which was conducted by independent research firm Burke. The data, released this past July, showed that print and Internet Yellow Pages are highly consulted sources of local business information, with 74% of consumers in urban areas saying they searched a print or Internet Yellow Pages in the past year.  Our research also shows reach among consumers living in rural areas is stronger with 83% using print or Internet Yellow Pages in the past year.

“Our research suggests that print Yellow Pages should still be a key part of an SMB’s budget in urban areas and should still dominate the budget in a rural areas.” said Steve Sitton, president of Market Authority.

The research continues to demonstrates that a balanced, integrated and multi-platform approach to local advertising – and one that takes into account the ongoing value of print Yellow Pages – is essential to any local business market plan.

Click here to view the full news release from Market Authority.

Berry and LocalVox Partner to Provide Online Marketing Solutions to Print Directory Customers

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Berry

The Berry Company announced today that it is partnering with LocalVox, an innovative local online marking solution for small and medium sized businesses, to offer LocalVox’s online marketing solution to its customers. The partnership will extend across Berry’s 41-state footprint, beginning in its recently launched markets of Charlotte, NC and Rochester, NY before expanding nationwide in 2013.

In a press release, Berry noted that LocalVox will provide a great return on investment for SMB clients who are increasingly looking to promote their brand and news across the web, email, local search, social media and mobile. The company also said it has seen early success in offering digital solutions to its large base of print directory customers.

Click here to read the full announcement and learn more about various local tools that will be offered.

Thoughts on Day 1 at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I’m very much enjoying my time here at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West conference, taking place this week at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The event kicked off yesterday, and without question the highlight for me was the session “SuperForum: Sales Force Transformation,” which discussed the ongoing question on how to structure sales teams to successfully meet the demands of today’s fragmented media environment. Charles Laughlin, SVP and Program Director at BIA/Kelsey, moderated an expert panel that included Kris Barton of ReachLocal, Mark Canon of SmugCloud, Jeff Folckemer of LocalEdge and Kathy Geiger-Schwab of Geiger-Schwab Consulting.

Laughlin opened with the important reminder that in the realm of sales force transformation, “absolute success is hard to find, and fundamentally difficult to achieve.” He said that BIA/Kelsey would be publishing a foundational paper in early January that will explore attempts by Deseret Media Group, Dex One, Eniro, Yodle and others to make significant change in their approach to sales.

Pointing out that recent studies have determined that 79% of SMBs are either confused or don’t understand their digital options – and that 45% do not understand the ROI of their digital programs – Laughlin said that “the enormity of the challenge tends to be underestimated.”

Each of the panelists weighed in. Kris Burton explained that sending members of the tech team on sales visits has helped to close the gap in the understanding of client needs. Mark Canon observed that the SMB experience has changed, becoming much more complex with the proliferation of media choices. Jeff Folekemer said his company’s dashboard includes all of its products, making it easier to track supplier performance.

Kathy Geiger-Schwab, a former Berry executive and longtime expert in the sales improvement arena, suggested looking at the “CoreCo vs. the NewCo” She said companies should ensure that they continue to profit from their core business, while engaging a new team to build their future. She recommended “Profit From The Core” by Chris Zook and James Allen as a good read for those looking to transform their businesses.

The group discussed a variety of ways to improve sales teams, including:

  • Automating SMB research as a tool for sales teams to use
  • Watching your NPS (Net Promoter Score), but working with the baseline and be realistic about improvement
  • Creating websites for SMBs that reflect the business’ identity
  • Create a long-term business plan that emphasizes that success takes time
  • Moving to resellers wherever possible and using their embedded investment to your advantage

And perhaps the most important message the panel had to sales teams out there was not to let what you know get in the way of what you don’t know. At the end of the day, change scares the entire management team. So to transform your sales force, start with the top and work down.

Final Thoughts on NLC Conference

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I’m catching up after a very busy and successful trip to the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition last week in Boston.

On the final day of the event, Neg Norton and I attended several sessions on sustainability. Many of these city leaders were in the early stages of building sustainability plans for their communities. They were looking for a place to start, the process for implementing a plan, and more insight into what a plan should look like. Some appeared frustrated regarding how to measure the benefits of such plans. It was a clear indication to both Neg and me that we have a great opportunity to continue to engage local communities about our industry’s efforts and encourage them to work with us as they develop their approaches to sustainability.

One of the speakers, Peter Brandom, sustainability manager for Hillsboro, Oregon, later stopped by our booth and we were able to discuss  the benefits of www.YellowPagesOutOut.com. We were able to share with Peter that our industry-run website is available at no cost to governments or consumers. Peter said that Hillsboro had been paying for a similar opt-out service. I think examples like these demonstrate why it’s so important that we continue to build visibility for www.YellowPagesOutOpt.com among audiences such as those at the NLC conference.

Our industry’s exhibit booth – well-staffed by Yellowbook’s Matt Krug, YP’s Jim Troup and Dex One’s Tim Foster – continued to garner interest for www.YellowPagesOptOut.com and its benefits as a straightforward, easy-to-use and free way to address the issue of unwanted directory delivery. We also spoke with many city leaders who had positive things to say about the local benefits of Yellow Pages. Many city officials we met were also small business owners and appreciated the return on investment that Yellow Pages provided their businesses. I also once again ran into Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean of Joplin, Missouri, and she told me that her tweet about www.YellowPagesOptOut.com sparked response from constituents who thought it was a great idea, as well as some who believed that receiving the print Yellow Pages were still important in helping them find local businesses. All in all, the exhibit booth was a great way to raise awareness of our members’ products as well as our consumer choice website.

With many state receptions at the end of the conference, Neg and I chose to attend those for states that were most active on issues pertaining to our industry. We attended the Oregon/Washington reception and the Joint Constituency Group reception for several minority groups.  We met city officials from the Washington cities of Everett, Auburn, Redmond, Medina, Snohomish, SeaTac, and others.  I also continued to develop relationships with members of the Asian municipal officers constituency group, and went to dinner with a few of them after the event.

(L-R) Doris McConnell, Councilmember – Shoreline, WA, Suzanne Lee Chan, Councilmember – Fremont, CA, Gilbert Wong, Councilmember – Cupertino, CA, Wesley Young, Local Search Association

Overall, the NLC conference was a great opportunity to meet local officials on an informal basis, to network with them, and to let them know that we are available to work with them to address issues regarding our industry’s products in their communities. There were so many attendees, that it was impossible to meet with them all, yet in a surprisingly short time, we were able to develop some really solid relationships and build significant goodwill.  The National League of Cities is a group we will continue to invest in moving forward.