I’m excited to announce that plans are already underway for our 2011 YPA annual conference, one of the most important industry conferences of the year!
Our theme, “Search Starts Here,” emphasizes the pivotal role that local search is increasingly playing in our industry. New offerings and partnerships, the growing role of social media and continuing print to IYP expansion will all be hot topics in 2011.
For the second year in a row, we’ll return to Las Vegas from April 16-19 to hear from leaders in the search industry about their vision for how we can continue to drive digital growth in our business. This time, we’ll be housed at the beautiful Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Boulevard.
YPA ELITE IYP®, a new proprietary industry system created with MediaTraks that allows publishers and Certified Marketing Representatives (CMRs) to facilitate national orders, graphics and artwork transmittal transactions for Internet Yellow Pages and other digital products. YPA ELITE IYP® is the Internet Yellow Pages extension of YPA ELITE®, the sole processing system for national print Yellow Pages orders, which currently executes close to 4 million transactions each year.
Share of Voice®, an interface that will enable publishers and CMRs to conduct detailed directory analyses for client and marketing purposes faster and more cost effectively. This new system will assist local and national sales channels in assessing the competitiveness of their clients and providing a high quality media planning tool to grow and defend Yellow Pages revenue. YPA is uniquely positioned to provide this tool as a result of its Directories Online system which encompasses more than 7,000 Yellow Pages directories.
I’m happy to report that the industry feedback we’ve received on these offerings so far has been extremely positive. Both publishers and CMRs across the country understand the importance of facilitating continued Yellow Pages growth by creating new, innovative systems that will deliver quality advertising opportunities and results for our clients. They are looking to YPA to continue to anticipate the marketplace and provide new services that increase productivity and streamline existing processes.
In fact, Dex One is already up and running and we expect to announce several major online publishers will be coming aboard in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.
I’m thrilled to report that our 35th annual YPA conference, “Transformers” was a great success. More than 425 Yellow Pages industry professionals from across the country and around the world joined us in sunny Las Vegas for four days of informative and imperative dialogue about the changing nature of our industry.
Like our industry, our conference was transformed this year to include a new format that highlighted Strategic Exchange Sessions (SES) instead of the traditional exhibition hall. The SES program was designed to allow companies to easily make appointments with industry executives during the conference – and the feedback we received so far has been outstanding. We’ve heard that those who participated were able to make more connections and have more quality 1:1 conversations than ever before.
Our general session and breakout sessions were also well received. The level of engagement and enthusiasm about the topics was significant – as the posts (and video) on InsideYP and on Twitter (via our hashtag, #YPA10) clearly illustrate. Some highlights include:
Eastman KodakChief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Hayzlettcaptivated the audience with a discussion of the transformation Kodak has made as the world moved away from film/print imaging to digital. As one attendee said, “If Kodak can go through that big of change in their business in that short of a time, and actually come out of it stronger, this industry should have no problem.”
Although unable to join us in person because of the volcanic ash situation in Europe, Jesper Karrabrink, CEO of Eniro shared a keynote address by video which discussed, among several things, the transformation necessary in our databases to be able to deliver truly relevant searches and to not be constrained by our traditional directory heading structure.
Frank Rowan, founder of Mr. Business Builder, not only preached passion, belief and persistence as the key ingredients to successful selling, he demonstrably confirmed those traits in his presentation yesterday at our annual conference in Las Vegas.
The focus of Rowan’s speech was that YP sales reps must believe in themselves and in the products they sell before they can become successful. He said that so little is sold when so little enthusiasm is offered. Successful sales reps are good listeners who have moved from a product-centric to a service-centric mindset. More importantly, they build relationships with their customers by identifying and fulfilling their needs.
Rowan went on to say that customers want our advice and are looking for the best executions in terms of reaching their target audience.
In a thought-provoking address this morning, Mat Stover, CEO Local Matters, gave his decree on what he called “the bottom line on social”: The future of the Yellow Pages industry is all about relationships, and social media is the most powerful and efficient environment to build those relationships.
Stover argued that social media, more than any other communication platform available today, can build rich networks to engage customer, advertiser and internal relationships that lead to revenue and loyalty. Used internally, social media can also benefit quality, production, expertise and innovation in organizations, particularly when used as a sales force tool to increase collaboration, share information and best practices and follow leads.
Here are some eye-opening statistics shared in the session:
48% of the US population has a social media profile, and it’s not just young Americans: 64% of 25-34 year olds use social media and 51% of those age 35-44 have a profile
More people visit Facebook everyday than Google – and the gap is widening
27% visit search engines a few times a week, 26% visit social networking every day
30% of all Facebook users check the network when they wake up in the middle of the night
The average teenager texts more than 2,000 messages per month
93% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media
52% of small businesses believe having a social media presence is important, but only 16% of them leverage social media
The data presents a pretty compelling argument and highlights some great opportunities for local search providers.
Taking a page from the social media playbook, Stover gave some tips as the industry continues its transformation. In his opinion, the successful media industry players of the future will absorb and enhance the best qualities that social media platforms offer today to users and advertisers:
Build loyalty by offering personalized content and value
Make it easy to bring friends along and share your experience
Make it a simple, efficient user experience that offers local insights
Don’t just wait for audiences to come to you – take content to the audience
Create widgets and tracking measures to evaluate value and impact
Make it easy for your network of users to add rich, unique content
The ladies of the YPA really look forward to the women’s networking reception each year at the annual conference, and this year’s gathering did not disappoint. Not only did the guests have a great occasion to network and hear updates from the women helping the industry to transform – but they were also treated to a fun and unexpected history lesson from Kimberli Lewis of Mediatel on the evolution of women’s purchasing power from the 18260 to present.
According to Lewis, women went from having no voice in their family’s day-to-day purchases the late 1800s to more voice in the 1920s during World War to becoming chief decision officers today – accounting for 85% of purchases.
“In Europe, our data shows us that three out of four women make the purchase in most households and 75% of those purchase are being made online,” she added.
Lewis argued that understanding the female approach to purchasing is a key to innovation.
“IYPs that integrate social media and brand-specific search functionality are essential,” she said. “They tap into two key insights: First, that 75% of online shoppers seek suggestions when making a purchase and second, that the average family mentions brands 90 times per week. This is the way consumers are operating and we need to adapt to that.”
Take notice, ladies: To better tap into the female purchasing cycle, Lewis suggested that more should be done to increase female executive leadership in the industry.
“If you want to know whether we are transforming, you have to ask who is leading the innovations in IYP platforms. Women make 85% of purchasing decisions – but represent only 18.2% of the CEOs in the industry globally.” An eye-opening number.
Special thanks are also owed to Lisa Mahoney of Century Interactive who led the annual raffle. A key prize among this year’s give-aways was a new iPad tablet… perfect to stay on top of the latest mobile innovations.
Jesper Karrabrink, CEO of Eniro rounded out today’s session with a video presentation made especially for “Transformers” after international air travel difficulties grounded him. Eniro has a global reputation for successfully transforming its business and Jesper shared insights with the audience on “transforming with a smile.” He spoke of transformation not as an option, but a requirement, emphasizing the transformations taking place at Eniro are not just about going from print to online, but represent at total transformation of the entire company. He also noted it was about “moving from print dependency to online opportunities.”
Eniro is focused on providing relevant search results, with Jesper noting that “those who can show the most relevant search results will be the true winner.” He showcased the search functionality on Eniro.se with an example for finding a hairdresser. They have taken their system to the next level, allowing consumers to not only search for the nearest salon, but to also input the date and time they are looking for the appointment, and actually closing the loop by allowing the consumer to book and confirm the appointment, all within the search.
Jesper acknowledged that these and other transformations take time, and require real investment in both the back-end systems and also in shaping the company’s culture to move forward in serving the needs of consumers in the way they think and search.
I caught up with Jeroen Coppelmans, VP Business Development for Spotzer Media Group, the Dutch-based advertising agency part owned by European Directories, here in Las Vegas to hear more about his company’s announcement today that it is launching an affordable websites creation tool for Yellow Pages advertisers.
Spotzer, which serves as a video partner for major Yellow Pages companies in 20 countries, will take its experience in video product management and apply it to the mass production of websites for local businesses. The company has partnered with Websplanet in creating a turnkey fulfillment solution for YP publishers, which includes content gathering, client support, copyrighting, photo and image provisions, as well as search-engine optimization and URL registrations and transfers features.
In a session chaired by BIA/Kelsey managing editorCharles Laughlin today at YPA 2010, a panel of CEOs sat down to discuss the state of the Yellow Pages industry and share thoughts on what changes are critical to ensure long-term success and growth.
A key to the future, said Laughlin, is acknowledging the change in the “consumer purchase funnel” – i.e. the consumer decision-making process that leads to a purchase decision. According to BIA/Kelsey data, in 2007, shoppers consulted 5.5 reference sources before buying. Today, they check 7.9 resources before making a purchase. How are Yellow Pages organizations staying relevant in this competitive environment?
Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst thinks it all about “[finding] buyers for customers.” Answering the larger question about “what type of company are you, and where are we going?” he responded that: “Usage of our print products continues to be pretty much what it’s been for the last 5-6 years, so we’re not believers in the end of print. But at the same time, we are adding a range of products to ensure that we are providing leads to our customers – including from platforms those we don’t own. Our role is putting out our customers’ content on Google, Twitter, mobile and online to ensure that they are visible in all places where customers are going to find buyers.”
Speaking from a European perspective, Mediatel CEO KimberliLewis agreed that the core of her business is about delivering leads, but commented that Mediatel’s path to success has been about reinventing the sales model. “So we have no rate card any longer. We sell only packages. These packages provide a certain amount of leads … This is the direction we see our business going… This shift has margin implications, but we handle that by working more like the fast moving consumer goods market, prioritizing sales of high margin services, but providing product offerings to support all types of customers.”
From a systems perspective, Local Matters CEO Matt Stover commented that “the industry is up to the task, but different players in the industry… start at very different places… [One] approach is getting a better understanding of where each company is strategically, and what their priorities are… and then, what tools are needed to deliver the quality, speed, and interoperability they need to provide better service and drive down costs.” In Stover’s opinion, being built to last will depend on being more aggressive and building a sales force that understands social media and can use it to connect with their customers.
Berry CEO Scott Pomeroy suggested that it comes down to making a fundamental shift from B2C to B2B businesses. “In order to continue to provide consultancy to our customers and leverage the rich SMB relationships our industry is the historical beneficiary of, we need to acknowledge that yellow pages are no longer the sole lead generator and help local businesses crack the code on how to use those other 7.9 sources that their consumers are referencing before they buy.” But that change is not easy to realize – it takes time and a focus on training, said Pomeroy. In order to transform from product salesmen to SMB consultants, the channel needs to recognize that the goal is now to “listen more than we talk.”
On the question of increasing competition, Pomeroy added that ownership is not always best. “We can provide leads through a myriad of portals. We don’t have to own them. Honestly, I’d just as soon rather sell someone else’s platforms, because there will be some failure as things continue to evolve,” he added.
Boland opened the discussion by providing facts and themes that demonstrate the opportunity in mobile: 63 million mobile Internet users, 29% smartphone penetration, and growing usage that will match desktop internet use by 2014 according.
“The mobile access points are happening when people are away from their desktop or print book, so it’s an opportunity to reach new users or existing users at incremental touch points.” And the marriage of mobile and social is driving popularity of mobile, while augmented reality apps, voice search, and bar codes add new possibilities.
Sergio Alvarez asked the audience a philosophical question – what’s a mobile device? Is an iPad a mobile device? The device landscape is diverse and fragmented, and can generate different results for advertisers and searchers.
Krishna Pillai says it’s important to think about what your end goal is before developing new apps and products in this fragmented market. “One of the things I tell my clients is to think about what you’re developing. Look at the audience. Is it an audience that uses theses devices? If your application does not use a lot of the native features of the device, think about why you really want to go through all that headache or writing for that device.”
Chung Cheong believes that customized messaging based on targeting – such as time or day or location of the user – is an important consideration for a mobile advertising program. The difficult part of that approach is that it requires a lot of advertiser input. “Restaurants or plumbers might be good at food or fixing a sink, but not necessarily advertising.”
Because of the complexity of some of these programs, Cheong believes that for many advertisers, it makes sense for most advertisers to consider mobile another channel as part of a larger advertising bundle and to analyze closely the advertisers that needs a more in-depth approach.
Pillai agreed that customization makes mobile a very powerful channel. “Because the mobile device is such a personal device and is such a ubiquitous device, users are very welcome to receiving information on their mobile device. There is a more timely aspect to it. When a consumer is looking for information, it is for something within the next hour or next several hours.”
“It’s been an unbelievable transformation. It was a matter of absolute survival.”
Eastman Kodak Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Hayzlett captivated the audience in this morning’s session with a discussion of the transformation Kodak has made as the world moved away from film/print imaging to digital. He opened the session with a comical but powerful video self-assessment from Kodak CEO Antonio Perez.
Five years ago, $15 billion of Kodak’s revenues were generated from consumer film … today, it’s less than $200 million. Revenues now are generated from 13 products, which make up 80% of revenue. All are No. 1, 2, or 3 in market share and half didn’t exist at all two years ago.
For example, its online photo center Kodak Gallery today has more than 75 million members and stores over 5 billion high-res photos – more than all other sites in the world combined. It is the third largest social network site in the world and is made entirely of paid memberships.
As the company worked to transform its brand, it made an effort to maintain the attributes that make Kodak familiar to consumers. “We wanted to transfer the old things to the new things because you just don’t throw it out,” said Hayzlett.
Hayzlett says he is a big believer in print. “You’re only as close as you are to the customer. Print is one of those lasting things that really works in the mix.”
Still, Hayzlett’s marketing strategy for Kodak focuses on repositioning the company for the digital age to reflect where revenues are generated today – 70% digital and 60% B2B. He has revamped the company’s Web site to strengthen the visual identity of a brand leading in digital photography and realigned sponsorships to capture the business customer.
He also takes the use of social media seriously and prefers to think about the “return of ignoring” instead of ROI in the traditional sense. As an example, Hayzlett discussed the incremental sales increases by adding user-requested features from online communities to its product line. To that end, Kodak has gone so far as to hire a chief listening officer.
In a nod to his book “The Mirror Test,” Hayzlett closed at the session by asking the Yellow Pages audience to look in the mirror and ask if we have the kind of people and the leadership in our businesses to make transformation happen.
Awards are part of any good trade association conference, celebrating your best and brightest isn’t just fun, it’s necessary. Singling out innovative members and honoring them in front of their peers is a great way to highlight outstanding efforts in new products, services and for community outreach.
The YPA has had an award program for over 30 years, and this year’s program was transformed along with the rest of the Conference. Categories were trimmed and for the most part, only the top or Gold winners were acknowledged.
At a “red carpet” reception, winners from across the country and around the world were feted with applause and trophies.
SuperMedia took home the gold for both Marketing Innovation (SuperGuarantee) and Community Service for “Summer of Good Reads and Good Deeds”. Ketchum Directory was honored in the Advertiser Success Story category and TMP won in the Process Innovation category for a unique measurement tool.
Other companies honored include AT&T Advertising Solutions, Telmetrics and ConnectFKM. Several individuals were honored, as well, for their contributions to the Yellow Pages industry.