Posts Tagged ‘Solocal’

Canada’s Yellow Media Appoints Julien Billot as New President and CEO

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yellow Media announced on Monday the appointment of Julien Billot as its new President and CEO. Yellow Media is the leading media and marketing solutions company in Canada and operates properties and publications including Yellow Pages print directories,, and

The company’s board of directors’ key focus was to “identify a senior leader with experience in executing and delivering digital transformations, a deep understanding of the media industry as well as a keen knowledge of the challenges facing traditional local search enterprises.”

Billot brings more than 20 years of leadership experience within the global media industry. He most recently served as executive vice president and head of the media group at Solocoal (formerly PagesJaunes), France’s largest local search firm, which has had a remarkably successful transition to digital over the past few years. Prior to Solocal, Billot was CEO of Lagardère Active’s digital and new media group.

Yellow Media

Earlier this year, Yellow Media restructured to focus on digital products and shift its existing print customers to online advertising packages. The company is hoping Billot will aid them in this transformation. At Solocal, Billot grew digital revenue share from 35% to 58%, and increased the profitability margins of the company’s digital offerings. Prior to that, he grew Lagardère’s digital and new business group’s global digital business, multiplying revenues six times in three years.

Billot’s experience with Solocal will be an asset as Yellow Media looks to make the same journey in Canada.  I look forward to seeing Billot’s efforts realize positive change for our industry on this side of the Atlantic!

Experts Predict Success When Taking Verticalized Approach to ‘Local’

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New, useful ways of locating local business information are popping up on a regular basis, making the local search and advertising space a much more competitive environment.  Specialized tools like OpenTable for making restaurant reservations and ZocDoc for scheduling doctor appointments are examples of some of these new ways consumers are finding and connecting with local businesses. Some experts predict that the publishers and advertisers who take a more verticalized approach to local markets will find more success than those who take a broad based approach.

During the 2013 Search Starts Here Conference, industry analysts, leaders and influencers discussed the importance of catering to verticals as opposed to trying to take on everything “local.”  Here is what they had to say:

‘Search Starts Here’: Backstage Interview with Solocal CEO & President Jean-Pierre Remy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We spoke backstage with Solocal CEO and President Jean-Pierre Remy about key takeaways from his keynote address and why attending our annual conference was important to his business.

For more on Jean-Pierre’s keynote address, read our full post here.

‘Search Starts Here’: A Look Inside Solocal’s Business Transformation

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jean-Pierre Remy, CEO and president of Solocal, gave us a deep look into Solocal’s impressive transformation from a traditional print Yellow Pages publisher to France’s leading local search company.

The transformation has resulted in strong results.  Today, Solocal’s online business represents 58% of revenues, and is expected to rise to 75% in 2015.  Solocal is the No. 1 local portal in France, and ranks as a top 5 destination for web and mobile reach.

So how did they do it?

Jean-Pierre said an intense focus on executing against a simply articulated strategy became the focus of every employee in the company.

Core to the strategy is the company’s focus on “local communication,” which broadened the company well beyond its print history.  Supporting the strategy is a three-pronged approach:

  • Digital content: Jean-Pierre said investing in content that isn’t available anywhere else, is the most important factor in driving value for advertisers and consumers.
  • Local media: Solocal has focused on building leading brands and partnering with leaders in local and social, including Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo.
  • Communications advisors: Retraining and recruiting talented communications advisors who can build trusted relationships with advertisers.  (Solocal has 2,500 local communication advisors.)

Jean-Pierre said the challenge now is for the communications advisors to go deep in their understanding of their clients so that Solocal’s customer focus can lead to specialized and customized offers and media for each client.

“When you go online, you have many more opportunities to help your clients adapt their local communication, but it means you really have to understand their business in much more detail.”

Looking to the future, Solocal is setting its sights on mobile growth, noting that the company is seeing traffic migrate from the web itself to mobile and social.

Jean-Pierre said Solocal must constantly innovate and look for new approaches to leverage social.  The company most recently experimented on Facebook with a brand called “Zoom On.” Zoom On creates an audience within special cities or regions.  Zoom On has been successful in terms of audience traffic, but Jean-Pierre said it still needs to convert that traffic into a monetization strategy.

That’s a key question we’ll all be asking as we continue to integrate social into local search offerings.  Based on what Solocal has done so far, I’m sure they’ll find the answer.

Paul Plant: Making Transformation Happen

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paul Plant of Radicle Consulting returns to guest blog on Local Search Insider. Paul has over 30 years of experience in directive media and advertising.  Since launching Radicle Consulting in 2010, Paul has acquired a diverse client portfolio, which he advises on all aspects of organizational and transformational change. Paul previously spent almost 20 years in senior management at Yell Group, in key marketing, sales and strategic operational positions in both the U.K. and U.S. See Paul’s previous post here.

The past decade has witnessed levels of new and disruptive technological and social change on an unprecedented scale, with the effect on the media sector being felt perhaps harder than most.

All companies, large and small, old and new have been affected, including traditional media providers such as Yellow Pages companies, as well as a number of the newer digital players, Yahoo being a good case in point.

Large numbers of Yellow Pages companies have made bold forward-looking visionary statements along the lines of, “We are transforming our business from print directory publisher to media solutions provider for SMBs.” Yet to date, the industry is still facing headwinds in its efforts to transform.

The troubles encountered  by many publishers around the world  are proof that to bring about a successful transformation is not easy. It calls for courageous and committed visionary leadership, combined with an energised and aligned workforce dedicated to creating a new digitally-enabled customer-centric organization. CEOs and their Boards must understand and mitigate the risks, something that cannot be delegated.

I’m looking forward to sharing my observations on the topic of Transformation from both inside and outside the Yellow Pages industry with attendees at LSA’s annual conference, “Search Starts Here,” next month in Las Vegas. My presentation will take place Monday, April 15 from 9:45-10:15 a.m.

I recently wrote a paper entitled “Making Transformation Happen”, in which I exposed some of the common issues facing large organizations when confronted by disruptive change. I put forward some sound guidance as to how companies should respond.

My work also outlines the new performance drivers, required behaviors and key measures for retaining salience with customers and building a sustainable future in the new digital economy. I am optimistic that traditional media publishers can carve out a strong positioning in the new digital environment, and will detail how the industry’s core strategic assets can be leveraged and adapted in order to achieve competitive differentiation.

I believe my presentation will serve as a tasty appetizer for the conference’s Keynote Address from Solocal (formerly PagesJaunes Groupe) President & CEO Jean-Pierre Remy, who will share the story of his company’s transformation journey from traditional directory publisher to become one of the world’s most successful digital media organizations.

But it is not only traditional media companies who have had to face up to change and competitive threat. One of the founding pioneers of the Internet revolution, Yahoo, had hit on difficult times until the arrival last July of Google’s “first lady” Marissa Meyer as President & CEO.

Yahoo, since Mayer’s appointment, has shown how a troubled media company can right its course. Her turnaround plan had just two central themes: 1) focus on the company’s core competences; and 2) nurture and re-energize the people throughout the organization, recognizing that they are the most important asset in any transformation. For more on Mayer’s efforts, check out this Forbes article.

Look forward to seeing you soon in Las Vegas!

The Last Frontier – or is it?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Today’s guest blogger, Paul Plant of Radicle Consulting has over 30 years of experience in directive media and advertising.  He launched Radicle Consulting in March 2010, and has acquired a diverse client portfolio, which he advises on all aspects of organizational and transformational change. He previously spent almost 20 years in senior management at Yell Group, in key marketing, sales and strategic operational positions in both the U.K. and U.S.

I had some thoughts regarding Neg Norton’s recent blog post, The Last Frontier: The Sales Call.  It cannot be argued that the local media solutions marketplace is increasingly being commoditised by an influx of new competitive media properties, each offering a suite of solutions that, to all intents and purposes, are very similar.

It is therefore hardly surprising that many industry commentators and observers view the sales call as one of the key points in the relationship between the media provider and the SMB where some degree of differentiation can be achieved. Neg Norton describes it as “The Last Frontier”.

For large numbers of traditional media players, the relationship between the salesperson and the SMB is the last frontier. In fact, for many it is the only remaining frontier. But why? It is because the vast majority of traditional publishers have almost given up on the consumer – the end user.

Significantly reduced investment in core product development, accompanied by a lack of advertising and promotional spend on core brands has seen a widescale erosion of proprietary print and new media brands and product solutions. This has allowed the likes of Google and others to lay claim to the lion’s share of modern-day consumer usage.

One publisher has consistently bucked the trend, and has equally stayed relentlessly true to the principle that the virtuous circle remains at the heart of the core media publisher business model. The governing principle that “content drives usage drives revenue” is the central strategic pillar of the Solocal (formerly PagesJaunes) business mantra.

Solocal retains high levels of both consumer and SMB customer loyalty, achieved through no less than seventeen different proprietary media brands and channels. New digital channels comprise almost 60% of Solocal’s €1.1bn revenues, driving an overall EBITDA margin of c.45%.

You can learn more about how Solocal bucked the trend, and how they continue to compete successfully on multiple frontiers, when their President & CEO Jean-Pierre Remy addresses the forthcoming Local Search Association annual conference in Las Vegas.

Industry Transformation – Opportunity for Success

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today’s guest blogger, Paul Plant of Radicle Consulting has over 30 years of experience in directive media and advertising.  He launched Radicle Consulting in March 2010, and has acquired a diverse client portfolio, which he advises on all aspects of organizational and transformational change. He previously spent almost 20 years in senior management at Yell Group, in key marketing, sales and strategic operational positions in both the U.K. and U.S.

I read with interest Neg Norton’s recent blog, which makes reference to Sensis and Solocal (formerly PagesJaunes). His post reminded me of one of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s great quotes – when asked to explain his extraordinary talent, Gretzky is quoted as replying, “Skate to where the puck is heading, not where it is now.” His quote is a metaphor that many major companies would do well to heed.

The Sensis case study is a sage, and indeed sad, lesson for others to be mindful of, for here is a publisher that failed to grasp the opportunity, despite having more advance warning and insight than any of its peers.

Australia, by being so far removed geographically from the rest of the world, has typically been three or more years “behind the trend” with regard to what else is happening within the industry. Sensis was still growing print revenues as recently as 2009, while most of its global peers were by then facing up to the inevitable consequences of new consumer behaviours brought about by disruptive digital change. Its print business, both white and yellow, held up revenues and high margins for longer than any other publisher. Yet, when the inevitable migration away from traditional media came along, the company was unprepared. Even today, more than 70% of Sensis’ revenues come from print, while digital sales are heavily reliant on the reselling of Google Adwords.

Another worrying factor is that circa 40% of Sensis’ income has traditionally been derived from large premier and national account customers. And as these started to slash their print spend, Sensis simply did not have the digital product inventory available to compensate for the decreases.

Sensis still operates as a division of its Telstra telco parent, which perhaps in part explains its situation, for the telco has not viewed the directory publisher as a strategic asset, and continues to milk the business for its profits. New Sensis MD John Allan certainly has his work cut out if he is to turn the company around.

Solocal (PagesJaunes) did not have the luxury of the crystal ball that Sensis had yet failed to use. That said, they still had the foresight, vision, and courage to embrace the undeniable shift towards new digital products and media solutions.

It will indeed be fascinating to listen to Solocal President & CEO Jean-Pierre Remy at the forthcoming LSA Conference in Las Vegas, when he explains the PagesJaunes success journey from traditional directory publisher to thriving modern digital media provider.

LSA Annual Conference Welcomes Influential Speakers from Google, Groupon, YP and more

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The speakers and panelists coming to our 2013 “Search Starts Here” Conference in Las Vegas include experts, veterans and thought leaders from all areas of the local search space. The biggest names in digital, mobile, social and print media will discuss many strategic and tactical topics that are driving the local search industry forward.

In addition to the great keynote speakers from Solocal Group (formerly PagesJaunes Groupe), Facebook and CityGrid, here are some more exciting subjects and speakers you can’t afford to miss:

SMB State of the Union
Greg Sterling (Opus Research)
Neal Polachek (Industry Observer)

Making Transformation Happen
Paul Plant (Radicle Consulting)

What’s Working in Mobile
Tim Garcia (Moasis)
Dan Hight (xAd)
Tae Kim (Google)
Michael Rubin (YP)

State of the Industry
Bill Dinan (Telmetrics)
Neg Norton (Local Search Association)

Print Directories in a Multi-Platform World
Matt Centofanti (YP)
Eric Webb (Marquette Group)
Dave Wolf (Linkmedia 360)
Emil Morales (TNS)

Sales Differentiation in a HYPER Competitive Selling Environment
Bob Sanders (AXIOM)

Building the “Local Commerce Operating System”
Ethan Anderson (MyTime)
Dave Gilbertson (Constant Contact)
Sean Harper (Groupon)
Bob  Gregerson (hibu)

Finally, as announced earlier, we also have some great workshops and breakout sessions with Yelp, Yext, edō, Supermedia and many more.

To learn more about all of our impressive speakers, visit our Speakers Page and don’t forget to check out the agenda for all the great content planned for the conference.  Register today and we will see you in Vegas!

As Industry Transforms, Opportunities for Success

Monday, March 4, 2013

Recently, I’ve watched with interest as many of our members have continued to take bold steps to transform their business models from traditional print publishing to innovative local search offerings.

Just last month, Sensis announced plans to restructure its workforce to meet changing needs and opportunities. The Yellow Pages publisher in Australia eliminated some backroom and management roles, while adding 50 new jobs at a new digital customer service management center.

Implementing this new strategy is not easy, but it is necessary. I was particularly impressed by how John Allan, Sensis’ managing director, described it:

“Until now, we have been operating with an outdated print-based model — this is no longer sustainable for us. As we have made clear in the past, we will continue to produce Yellow and White Pages books to meet the needs of customers and advertisers who rely on the printed directories, but our future is online and mobile, where the vast majority of search and directory business takes place.”

The approach Sensis and many other industry players are taking is one that Solocal (formerly known as PagesJaunes), the Yellow Pages publisher in France, has already pursued – and with great success. That’s why I’m pleased that Jean-Pierre Remy, president and chief executive officer of Solocal, will serve as the keynote speaker at our 2013 annual conference, “Search Starts Here.”

Jean-Pierre led the remarkable transformation of the company from a traditional print publisher into one of the world’s most progressive local search companies. Today, Solocal reaches 90% of French consumers through its portfolio of print, digital, mobile and social products and ranks as one of the top 10 global companies in terms of online revenues, with 59% of its approximately $1.5 billion annual revenue coming from its digital offerings.

There are significant lessons we can all learn from Solocal’s transformation and Jean-Pierre’s leadership. For more information and to register, visit our conference website today.

France’s PagesJaunes Rebrands as Solocal

Friday, February 15, 2013

Solocal Group

PagesJaunes, France’s Yellow Pages publisher and one of the world’s most progressive local search companies, yesterday announced the launch of a new corporate brand – Solocal Group. The name change comes at a time when online revenues are becoming a greater share of the company’s bottom line: today, 58% of the company’s revenue comes from online, a figure that is expected to rise to 75% by 2015. The company chose the new name Solocal to better reflect digital growth and its leadership in online and mobile local search.

Though the corporate entitity will now be known as Solocal, it appears that the company’s consumer-facing products will continue to be branded as PagesJaunes for the time being.

In conjunction with the rebranding, Solocal also launched a new initative called “Digital 2015.” While the company has been rapidly transforming from traditional to digital over the past few years, Solocal will introduce Digital 2015 to fully make the switch. The company’s new objectives will include:

  • Accelerating online growth by specializing offers, focusing on client needs by business category and developing new capacities to support them in digital marketing
  • Enhancing media platform efficiency, fixed and mobile, by providing an enriched user experience and maximizing benefits for clients
  • Adopting a digital, flexible company model, through talent, IT systems, organization and culture
  • Embarking all teams on transformation, to facilitate development both in France and internationally

As you may know, Solocal CEO, Jean-Pierre Remy will be traveling from France to deliver the keynote speech at this year’s Search Starts Here Conference in Las Vegas. We’re very excited to hear more about the new iniative, the new name, and the company’s incredible transformation.

To hear fantastic insights from Jean-Pierre and other Local Search leaders at the 2013 conference, log onto to register.