Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

LSA|14: Going Full Digital: Transforming a Traditional YP

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nir Lembert, CEO of Zap Group, shared his experience in transforming a traditional Yellow Pages company into a fully digital publisher. 

In 2005, the company was Israel’s leading Yellow Pages publisher and print comprised of 85% of its revenue.  The transformation was started by launching sites through specific verticals including lawyers, doctors, and tourism.  But it was largely offering the same information that was available in print, online and the Lembert felt like this was not sufficient to make the transformation to digital.  The company needed to offer something else to be and stay relevant.

Information was not the problem – there’s plenty of information available on sites like Google.  But how do you help your consumers choose what is relevant for them?  Lembert and his team came up with a new vision:

  1. Empower consumers and enabling them to make smart purchase related decisions
  2. Become the main lead generation junction for their consumers.

The company took all the verticals and Yellow pages and merged them under one company umbrella sharing common services for efficiency, but dividing the business divisions into Experts (professionals); Retail and Products; Lifestyle (restaurants, entertainment); and Service Providers (the core of YP).

Each vertical had its own team with expertise in those divisions.  The company also rebranded at that time to become Zap.

Zap built its success on products would help consumers choose or decide or evaluate products and services that they are interested in purchasing as opposed to just providing a listing.  The information Zap provides to consumers to help those decisions include pricing information, reviews, and comparable products.  Zap also provides filters to narrow search results that give the consumer a customized search result based on their wants or needs that can bring a search result of thousands to a small handful of much more targeted results.  Reviews, consumer guides and other supporting information also help with the decision.

Zap launched its online targeted shopping sites in March 2012 with mobile sites released a year later.  The result has been astounding growth over the last two years to the tune of 80% growth in unique users, monthly visits and calls from paying customers.

In 2013 they made the decision to close their print product entirely based on that growth.  So, today they are a 100% digital company.

The decision to close print was not without controversy.  But it is successful.  In 2005 the company’s top line revenue was $210 million.  While there was some drop in revenue during the transition, last year, Zap’s revenue was $190 million and in a couple years they will be back above the 2005 revenue.

For many companies, print is still 50% or more.  Lembert says U.S. publishers, with print products that are still performing, have time and money to invest in the new world.  Zap did not have that luxury and thus went 100% digital.

So what’s next for Zap?  Zap wants to remain in the traditional arena of developing a relationship between the consumer and SMB.  But now they want to be part of the transaction itself.

Some of its new launches that are either live or will soon be launch include the following:

  • Products:  Include prices in product search and become the Israeli Amazon/eBay
  • Services: Launch a mobile payment app
  • Lifestyle and Professionals:  Provide online delivery/reservation/booking systems

One of the biggest changes is that Zap will move to a pay per acquisition or percentage of transaction business model across the board.

Zap is also looking to expand its role as a trusted partner for SMB’s in offering all media services including social media and Web (SEO/SEM), and ecommerce, not just in Israel, but globally.

Zap is knows mistakes it has made and things they’ve learned through this process are relevant for others looking to make a transformation and they would be happy to share their experiences and capabilities with others.

Solocal Group Gives Glimpse into the Products Driving Significant Growth in Digital Revenue

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Solocal Group

Last year at our annual conference, Solocal Group’s CEO Jean-Pierre Remy spoke about the company’s transformation from a traditional print directory publisher to an innovative local search provider.  During last week’s webinar, Bruno Berthezene, Solocal Group partnerships and business development manager, discussed the digital products and solutions that are helping make this transformation so successful.

Solocal Group’s focus is on providing local digital media and marketing solutions for retailers and service providers, both large and small.  With this focus in mind, in just six years, Solocal Group has been able to grow their digital revenues from about 34% in 2007 to almost 60% in 2012. Bruno attributed this to a variety of products and solutions but specifically highlighted the following:

  • Web YP: Priority listings in; 1st position for 50% of searches in a activity/geography mix; tier 2 priority listing.
  • Mobile YP: Priority listings in PagesJaunes mobile app; 1st position for 50% of searches in a activity/geography mix; tier 2 priority listing.
  • Free GPS App: Priority listings in “Mappy GPS” free app.
  • Websites: Website, mobile and tablet sites sold together; hundreds of verticalized possible looks and feels; Facebook fan page, photos, video, booking, classifieds, coupons, menus, e-commerce and more.
  • Store Locator: By generating a microsite per retail location, “BRIDGE” increases online visibility of each of the outlets.
  • Direct Marketing: Turnkey DIFM or DIY emailing campaign solution; postal mailing and text message campaigns.
  • Appointment Booking: Real-time appointment booking; fully customizable for web and mobile.
  • Classifieds: Classifieds for the real estate, cars and jobs verticals; visibility within and in dedicated vertical websites.

Check out the entire presentation below:

For access to all of our past webinars and a look at what’s to come, visit

Capture a Client’s Increasing Digital Ad Spend with Solutions that Work

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Solocal Group

Please join LSA and Solocal Group for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, January 23 from 2 pm – 3 pm EST.

During last year’s LSA Conference, Solocal Group’s CEO spoke about the company’s successful transformation from traditional print directory publisher to innovative local search provider with a wide portfolio of print, online, social and mobile products.  During this webinar, Bruno Berthezene, Solocal Group partnerships and business development manager, will discuss the digital products and solutions behind this transformation. Join us and find out how Solocal Group is successfully capturing the increasing digital ad spend of local businesses.

Solocal Group ranks #1 in local communication in France, with revenues of €1.07 billion in 2012. It employs 4,900 people in France, Spain, Luxembourg and Austria, including 2,300 sales advisers to support its 677,000 local and national advertising customers. As a creator of useful media, Solocal Group operates in three complementary business lines: content and service provision, media and advertising representation. Thanks to its know-how and the performance of its brands, Solocal Group occupies a leading position on the Internet.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!

YP Continues to Improve Digital Business with Sense Networks Acquisition

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On the heels of a re-branding, website redesign, app redesign and major ad campaign, local search and advertising company, YP recently announced that it had acquired mobile ad company, Sense Networks.  Gaining access to Sense’s location and behavioral data will help YP offer more accurately targeted search and display ads.

As one of the largest mobile advertising companies in the US, YP’s acquisition of Sense Networks is one of many major moves that YP has made this past year to improve the effectiveness of its digital assets. Given growing demand from local businesses for digital advertising solutions, YP has done the following to help their clients get found by local consumers:

  • Re-launch of YP website: The site has been redesigned to better connect consumers and local businesses through a more user-centric design, improved navigation and a cleaner, more functional format.
  • New YP logo and ad campaign: “The new way to do,” debuted as part of a multi-channel brand and advertising campaign to highlight the company’s “commitment to be the most efficient tool to getting the job done.”
  • Redesigned version of YP’s smartphone app: This new update brings a cleaner, more modern aesthetic to YP’s popular local search tool, making it easier and faster for users to find what they’re looking for.

As YP continues its transformation from traditional media company to a full service local search, media and advertising company, YP is working hard to innovate and invest in digital marketing solutions that will help them capture a larger share of the growing digital ad spend of local businesses.

Borrell Shares Tips on Making Move from Media Company to Marketing Agency

Monday, January 13, 2014

During last week’s webinar with Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, he shared insight into the evolving local media space, specifically the transformation of media companies into marketing agencies.  With publishers rushing to meet SMB demands to buy SEO, social media management, reputation management and other services, their business is fundamentally changing.  Instead of selling high-margin media products, local media pros are now selling less-scalable marketing services.

When it comes to profitability, Gordon provided some best practice examples of companies that went from traditional media company to a successful digital business which included LSA members Mediative and  He also provided some great insights and advice that can help local marketers become more digitally savvy:

  • By 2018, consumers will curtail their media time by 19 minutes, effectively saying “enough!”
  • 64% of SMBs are “very” or “somewhat” optimistic about near-term (12 months) improvement to the local economy.
  • SMB marketing budgets were up 10.7% in 2013.
  • On average, SMBs get 5 sales calls per week and listen to only 1 of them.
  • 42% of SMBs pegged digital media for more spending.
  • Online spending is an energizer bunny; it keeps going and going.
  • 70% of SMBs use FB, compared with 64% two years ago.
  • 85% of SMBs say mobile presence is important, yet only 19% engage in mobile marketing.
  • When it comes to evolving from traditional media:
    • Know how much you’re chasing; set goals
    • Partner.  Don’t go it alone
    • Build slowly; don’t invest heavily
    • Expect profitability (almost) from the outset
    • Train, train, train reps.  Then train them again

Check out the entire presentation below:

For access to all of our past webinars and a look at what’s to come, visit

The Ugly Catharsis: From Media Company to Marketing Agency

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Please join LSA and guest presenter Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, January 9 from 2 pm – 3 pm EST.

Hordes of publishers are rushing to meet SMB demands to buy SEO, social media management, reputation management and other services.  In so doing, they’re shifting from selling high-margin media products to less-scalable marketing services.  In this webinar Gordon will explore the products, uptake rates and pricing, as well as the biggest question of all:  Is there any profit in this?  Gordon will also offer details and analysis on how media companies are faring as they morph into marketing agencies.

Gordon Borrell is a sought-after speaker for conferences and company meetings and one of the media industry’s leading analysts. He is ranked in the top 2% among Gerson Lehrman Group’s 150,000 consultants worldwide and is quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Ad Age, Forbes and other publications. He has appeared on CNN and other TV and radio programs discussing trends and forecasts for local media.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!

‘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.

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.

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.