Posts Tagged ‘AT&T’

YP Celebrates First Year of Independence

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It’s hard to believe, but a year has passed since YP officially announced its launch as an independent company. The former AT&T Interactive and AT&T Advertising Solutions units broke off to form YP Holdings LLC on May 9, 2012, forming a new identity as North America’s largest local search, media and advertising company with more than $3 billion in annual revenues. YP is majority-owned by Cerberus Capital Management.

YP’s progress over the past year has been remarkable. Here are some notable highlights we’ve captured here on the blog along the way:

  • Last March, YP announced that it was the second largest company in the U.S. mobile advertising industry in 2012, with more than $350 million in revenue attributable to mobile, according to IDC. YP said its mobile apps referred nearly 100 million calls to local businesses in 2012, and that click-through rates on the company’s paid mobile listings grew by 100% over the year. YP also ranked among the top 40 mobile web domains in the U.S. by comScore.
  • Last February, YP appointed former AOL executive David Lebow as senior vice president and general manager of its newly created National Markets Group, based in New York. The new group was created to provide a dedicated focus on developing and activating digital solutions for national advertisers looking to generate local leads.
  • Last December, YP released its end-of-the-year Local Insights Digital Report, which showed 2.2 billion searches across YP’s online and mobile offerings in 2012. Local search volume via YP offerings continued to grow, with users making an average of 350,000 more local searches on a given day in 2012 than they did in 2011. YP searches via iPads were up 233% year-over-year, while searches on Android devices were up 205%.
  • Last September, YP announced that Jonathan Miller, one of the world’s most respected digital media executives, would become the company’s first announced Board member.
  • Last July, YP announced a new offering called Dynamic Store Locator. The feature, a part of its Local Mobile Display Network, allows local businesses to advertise to consumers within a specific radius of storefronts or given geo-fence. The program can potentially reach more than 100 million location-enabled smartphones in the U.S.
  • Last June, YP launched its “Gas Guru” mobile app, which helps users to find the closest and cheapest gas in their area.

Recently, YP CEO David Krantz spoke to MediaPost about his company’s print to digital transformation, efforts to ramp up in new markets where it doesn’t have a strong presence, activities to leverage growth in mobile, and approach to working with small businesses. The full interview can be found here.

Congratulations to everyone at YP on a great first year. We look forward to seeing what you have in store for year two!

The Last Frontier: The Sales Call

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lately, I’ve noticed that my conversations with sales leaders and practitioners in the local media space have taken on a new theme.  A last frontier if you will.  And what is that frontier?  It is the sales call itself.

Many media organizations have already transformed their sales structures with the addition of client support specialists to attend to the “24/7” optimization opportunities inherent with new media.  They have tested digital only versus traditional sellers.  Many have transformed their tool set by giving sellers i-pads pre-loaded with value presentations and collateral.  And most have transformed their sales forecasting and productivity management by implementing CRM systems.   Now attention is turning to the final frontier – the conversation between buyer and seller and how it is in need of a transformation all its’ own.

Kimberly Senior, Executive Director, is driving such a transformation at AT&T Business Solutions, which is producing improved sales results and customer relationships.

We have invited Kimberly to our conference in April to share her evolving story. AT&T Business Solutions might seem like an odd choice at a local media conference but their story is relevant and their success is keenly measured to assure an outstanding ROI.

AT&T Business Solutions has seen the same technological disruption in their landline business as media companies have seen in theirs.  Like media companies, they are also experiencing an increasing number of new and traditional competitors creating what appears to be a commoditization of the marketplace.   But perhaps most importantly the majority of customers that AT&T Business Solutions calls on is exactly the same customer local media companies speak to each day – the SMB community – and they are responding to the new conversations.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Kimberly speak about AT&T’s success at our Search Starts Hear Conference at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, April 13-16.

YP.com Launches Refreshed Homepage

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Earlier this week, YP introduced a new face to its flagship website YP.com, which continues to rank as a top 40 web domain, according to comScore. Since spinning off from AT&T two months ago, YP has introduced several product updates including a new YP.com homepage, as well as a new mobile app called Gas Guru.

As the video tour above shows, the YP.com updates give businesses more visibility among potential customers within their local YP community, right on the homepage, enabling users to discover more local businesses. The new homepage aligns with YPs focus on building products and features that shift search to be more about decision-making to help users get things done.

Yesterday, we blogged about the recently released YP Local Insights Digital Report, which noted that YP’s mobile apps drove two calls to a business every second in Q2 2012. While mobile apps present a different on-the-go opportunity, YP believes this same approach can be allied to online search.

Take a look at the YP.com and let us know what you think!

AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive Officially Become YP Holdings

Thursday, May 10, 2012

YP Holdings LLC (YP), which combines the assets of AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive, officially launched following the acquisition of a controlling interest in YP by Cerberus Capital Management. The new company, which will be based in Tucker, Georgia, will publish the iconic Yellow Pages and operate YP.com, the top-rated YPmobile app, and the expansive YP Local Ad Network.

I’m glad to see that David Krantz, the former CEO and president of AT&T Interactive, has been named CEO of YP, leading YP’s overall strategy and operations. Joining Krantz is a new leadership team including executives from AT&T Advertising Solutions, AT&T Interactive, Cerberus Operations, as well as executives recruited from outside AT&T.

According to Krantz: “We have a great future in front us. We also have an extensive customer base, the largest local sales organization, an unmatched product portfolio, industry-leading platforms across the web, mobile and print ecosystems, and a great brand. We are ready to invest in this business, innovate and provide excellent service to our customers.”

Check out the YP launch press release, which includes some impressive stats on the size, scale and effectiveness of YP’s local advertising solutions.

AT&T Interactive’s Local Insights Report Lists Top Local Search Cities and Most Popular Categories

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Last week, AT&T Interactive released the first quarter 2012 edition of its Local Insights Report. The report, which analyzes data from 528 million searches and 10 billion impressions across the YP Local Ad Network’s online, mobile and IPTV platforms, offered an interesting look into the rapidly evolving local search space.

Among many highlights in this quarter’s report was a list of the top cities for local search. As expected, densely populated cities including New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago took the first four spots on the list. However, Atlanta – which is in a different category as the 40th most populous city in the U.S. – surprisingly came in at number five. The city also experienced year-over-year local mobile search growth of a whopping 108% – further demonstrating that it is quickly becoming a local hotspot.

The report also highlighted the unique behaviors of mobile and online local searchers. While Restaurants and Automotive were the top search topics on both platforms, Movie Theaters, Beauty Services and Hotels rounded out the top five for mobile while Finance, Real estate and Legal completed the top five for online. These findings seem to indicate that mobile searchers are more likely to look for products and services on the spot for immediate purchases, while online searchers are more prone to look for larger and less frequent purchases.

Click here to read more about these results as well as other insights on local search trends, including the top local search categories, top growing local search categories, notable holiday trends and more. As marketers, this data is invaluable in helping us understand our business and make valuable recommendations to our clients.

Despite Shifts, Print Yellow Pages Remain Viable Local Media Source

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

AT&T’s announcement last week that it plans to sell a majority stake of its Yellow Pages units to Cerberus Capital Management has generated discussion about the future of print Yellow Pages. While we’ll talk about this more at our annual conference “Search Starts Here” next week, I think it’s worth at least briefly discussing here whether or not AT&T’s move signals what some skeptics have called “the end” of print directories.

We’ve seen print media usage decline for a number of years, and all indications are that will continue.  This hasn’t been limited to directories – certainly everyone who ever published anything on paper has had to re-evaluate their business models.

With Yellow Pages, we watched usage shift to Internet Yellow Pages sites, then search engines as their local capabilities grew, and now increasingly to mobile applications and even social networks.  Some of the declines in print Yellow Pages are driven by the difficult economy, especially as tough times have impacted those important “life events” – the bread and butter of directory advertising.

The growth of digital and mobile media, coupled with fact that many people still use “traditional” media, has resulted in a highly fragmented local media market.  Gone are the days when print Yellow Pages were the only go-to source, but the truth is that the days of print Yellow Pages are far from gone.  Print Yellow Pages still drive volume and strong lead quality.  Print Yellow Pages often reach an audience that doesn’t duplicate other advertising.  And, in what might be surprising to some, several recent call tracking measurements showed that print directories generated more calls in 2011 than they did in 2010.

Let’s look at each one.

1) Yellow Pages Have Extensive Reach and High Volume of Lookups

Yellow Pages usage is down overall, but remains significant.  Print Yellow Pages generate billions of lookups every year, and the majority of U.S. adults say they use print Yellow Pages at least once a year.  TNS’ 2011 “Intermedia Shopping Study” found that Yellow Pages were the second most used among consumers who actually made a purchase, beating direct mail, newspapers, television, coupons, billboards, magazines and radio.  Yes, Yellow Pages were second to search engines, but still performed extremely well in the fragmented local media landscape.

2) Yellow Pages Drive High Quality Leads for Advertisers

Consumers reference print Yellow Pages when they are ready to make a purchase. As a result, Yellow Pages have long been known for driving high-quality leads to local businesses. In fact, the annual “Local Media Tracking Study” by Burke found that 75% of Yellow Pages consumers in 2011 made a purchase or were likely to do so. The study also found that 36% of those were new customers to the business chosen. Importantly,  print directories are often the last opportunity for a marketer to influence the purchase decision before the consumer calls, clicks or visits the business of their choice.

3) Low Duplication Rates with Other Media

Yellow Pages often reach consumers that other media don’t reach.  TNS found extremely low duplication rates (in the low single digits) for the number of consumers who referenced both Yellow Pages and other individual local media sources (newspapers, direct mail, coupons, television, magazines and radio) prior to and after the decision to buy.  This data suggests there can be value to the advertiser in maintaining a presence in multiple channels – or otherwise, they’ll miss out on customers.

4) Growing Number of Calls

Although print usage has declined, many advertisers in 2011 saw an increase in the number of calls generated by their print ads. A study conducted by Patek Analytics confirmed national advertisers who maintained their advertising program in 2011 saw call growth.  Small markets saw display ad calls increase 25% and in-column ad calls increase 13%. In large markets, display ad calls increased 20% and in-column ad calls increased 16%.  In total, 71% of advertisers experienced year-over-year gains in calls.  Consistent with those findings, preliminary results from another assessment of metered ads conducted by CRM Associates found a 15% increase in total annual calls in 2011 versus 2010.  Part of this may be due to an improving economy.  Another contributing factor, however, is that some advertisers have eliminated their print directory presence, creating a competitive advantage for those advertisers who maintain their ad program.

So what does all this data mean to advertisers?  Unfortunately, the answer is not simple.  The research we see however suggests that advertisers need to look at media usage in your market, in your industry, and in your target demographics.  From there, create a media plan that combines the appropriate media mix – targeting the right messages to the right audience through the right channels. Yellow Pages representatives and agencies are uniquely suited to help local businesses manage this process and to help them create the best opportunity for success.

As for the AT&T deal, we believe this will be a positive for both AT&T and the advertising business. AT&T, like several of its peers, has decided to focus on its core network business and the directory business is no longer key to its future.  YP.com is a top 40 website and the AT&T Real Yellow Pages have terrific brand recognition – so the foundation is there.  As a standalone business, Yellow Pages will get the full attention and resources of its new management to ensure it’s doing the right things to stay competitive in this quickly changing media market – and in turn, they can use their extensive in-market presence to help local advertisers figure it out too.

AT&T Sells Majority Stake of Yellow Pages Units to Cerberus Capital Management

Monday, April 9, 2012

AT&T announced plans this morning to sell a majority stake of its Yellow Pages business – including AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive – to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP for $950 million. AT&T, which is reconfiguring its business to focus on wireless, will maintain a 47% ownership stake in the new independent company, YP Holdings LLC (YP).

According to the press release, the new YP will include:

  • Approximately 1,200 The Real Yellow Pages® print directory titles reaching about 150 million homes and businesses in 22 states;
  • YP.com, a top 40 website according to a leading global digital measurement firm;
  • The YPSM Local Ad Network, which includes more than 300 mobile and online publisher websites nationwide providing digital reach to more than 71 million monthly unique visitors; and
  • The YPmobile® app, which allows users to search local businesses from their mobile devices.

The release states that the affected AT&T business units generated approximately $3.3 billion in revenues in 2011. The Wall Street Journal notes that the deal values the businesses at about $1.42 billion in equity – a value higher than those of popular local search sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. This high figure speaks to the continued value of Yellow Pages products in the local search marketplace.

José Gutiérrez, president and CEO of AT&T Advertising Solutions, said in the release, “This transaction makes strategic sense for both AT&T and Advertising Solutions. It enables AT&T to focus on its core strategy of leadership in wireless, IP, cloud- and application-based services. At the same time, it gives our advertising customers, partners and developers continued access to strong advertising and search innovation and performance.”

I agree this is good news for AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive, and our industry as a whole. The move provides both business units with the ability to move forward under a single local search and advertising strategy and leadership. Additionally, Cerberus, one of the nation’s largest private equity firms, is known for staking its reputation on the ability to drive growth in the businesses it acquires. This will be key to meeting the challenges of today’s evolving local search space and further developing AT&T’s leadership in local online and mobile search.

Borrell Study: Directory Companies Making Fastest Transition to Local Digital

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Earlier this week, Borrell Associates released its 2011 Benchmarking Local Online Media study, which takes a deep dive into the local digital marketplace and documents the evolving landscape for local media.

Borrell surveyed and reviewed revenue figures from 5,700 local media companies including Yellow Pages, radio, newspapers, local TV and cable companies, as well as pure-play digital companies. Based on that data, Borrell projected that local online advertising – including everything from banners and streaming audio and video, to e-mail advertising, paid search and mobile advertising – will reach $19.9 billion in 2012, up from $16.4 billion in 2011.

Credit: Borrell Associates

Interestingly, the Borrell report indicates that Yellow Pages providers in particular are capitalizing on growth in the local online advertising space. According to the report, Yellow Pages providers today represent about $2.5 billion, or 12.6%, of total local online advertising revenue.

The Borrell report emphasized that directory companies are making the fastest transition to local online when compared to other local sources. And within Yellow Pages organizations, the share of digital revenue to total revenue is expanding at an “unprecedented rate,” representing one-fourth to as much as 50% of total revenues. Borrell said strong Yellow Pages representation is the result of changes providers have made to their sales staffs and new strategies to focus on digital sales. Just makes sense, since after all Yellow Pages were the original search engine.

Credit: Borrell Associates

Of the top local online advertising revenue leaders, Yellow Pages providers appear at the frontend of the list: AT&T Yellowpages.com at #2, Yellow Media at #7, Yellowbook at #9, SuperMedia at #10 and DexOne at #11. Local sites also rank high, including ReachLocal at #11, CityGrid Media at #18, and Yelp at #29.

I’m proud to see such a strong showing for our members in this report. It’s a testament to the hard work underway in our industry to adapt our business models to changing consumer trends, and demonstrates our leadership position in the evolving local online space. More to come!

AT&T AdWorks Links Mobile Ads with Foursquare

Thursday, March 29, 2012

AT&T AdWorks, through mobile ad firm’s Celtra’s partnership with Foursquare, will let consumers check-in to the location-based social network via mobile ads served by AT&T’s network, according to a report in AdWeek.

As part of the unit, mobile ads featuring Foursquare will appear as regular mobile banners that call on consumers to check-in to local businesses. Consumers clicking the ads will be shown a map with nearby store locations, provided that the users has opted-in to being targeted by location (otherwise, the user will be asked to input their zip code). Consumers can then click on the store location they wish to go to for Foursquare information tied to that location including offers and tips. Consumers can also access Foursquare directly to check-in and click-to-call business locations.

I think this is another great example of leveraging growth in mobile and social to bring innovative new offerings to advertisers – and a useful tool to consumers as well. Read the full AdWeek story here.

AT&T Interactive Kicks Off YP Developer Challenge

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Earlier this week, AT&T Interactive launched a new YP Developer Challenge. The contest encourages app and web developers to exercise their creativity by using YP APIs to create innovative local apps. Contestants have the opportunity to win $5,000 and a sponsored trip to the SXSW trade show (March 12-15, 2012) in Austin.

The Developer Challenge kicks off ATTi’s YP Developer Program, which provides developers free access to local business data from more than 17 million local businesses across more than 4,600 categories nationwide. It provides developers free access to maps, ratings, reviews, deals, and coupons through the YP APIs as well. The program also helps to bring consumers even closer to small businesses with its solid set of APIs that extend the reach of advertisers beyond ATTi’s owned and operated YP branded properties.

To apply to the YP Developer Challenge, submit your local app between January 26-February 19. Find out whether your team will be demonstrating its app or website at SXSW on February 28. For more information on the YP Developer Challenge, visit the YP Developer Portal.

I’m looking forward to the exciting new apps that will result from the challenge!