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Jan 20 2006
Verizon Quick to Leverage Usage Data Results
Verizon Information Services was out of the gate quickly with a press release touting its usage share leadership position in Manhattan, Washington, DC, the Bronx and Brooklyn, citing data from the Yellow Pages Market Reporter, a new syndicated usage service from Knowledge Networks/SRI. Verizon competes in these markets with Yellow Book and Ambassador Publishing (in the New York markets). Verizon�s release says nothing about the degree to which it beat its competitors.


This announcement suggests syndicated research may become as much a public relations tool as it is a credible research resource for agencies and national advertisers.

What is interesting about this announcement is that it shows how much the syndicated research game is subject to spin. The syndicated research methodology has undergone tremendous scrutiny, and all participants have accepted it, so the results Verizon is touting do not appear to be in dispute. However, it really isn�t necessary for Yellow Book or Ambassador to have a No. 1 market position for either of them to declare their own victory. All that is required is enough usage to make buying an ad in one of their books a good value.

We imagine this announcement will be the first salvo in an ongoing press release battle over which publisher really is the winner in the syndicated usage game. We hope ultimately everyone wins by attracting more advertisers, who now gain confidence in the medium because it has a third-party measurement program in place.


Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  08:58 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 18 2006
News Corp. Taking on Sensis
The Australian is reporting that Rupert Murdoch�s News Corp. is planning to challenge Sensis� growing position in Australian directories, classifieds and local search with its own �listings� product. The product will be powered by News Corp.�s latest asset, Australian Local Search, which is the same shop driving Yahoo!�s Australian local search efforts. You can read the full article here.

News Corp.�s challenge is interesting on many levels, including the fact that, unlike a search engine, News Corp. takes on Sensis from the position of also claiming original, rich local business information. According to the Australian article, the News Corp. site would bring with it listings from 100 community newspapers, as well as 700,000 listings acquired with ALS. And just as Sensis has a built-in promotional platform with its print directories, News Corp. does so with its community papers.

This developing competitive match-up speaks to one key question about the directories, classifieds and local search businesses, which is whether these entities will be distinguishable (online at least) within a few years� time. It appears we might see one of the earliest examples of competition among truly morphed directory/classified/search products in Australia.

The Kelsey Report� is currently developing an Advisory that examines the intersections between directories and classifieds, in particular online.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:15 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 12 2006
Do Blue Balloons Signal Death for Yellow Pages?
Blogger David Galbraith is being credited as the first to discover that Google is beginning to offer blue �Adballoons� on maps, which for now appears limited to hotels in New York City. One of Galbraith�s basic conclusions is that this application will help tip print Yellow Pages over the edge into oblivion (my words, you can read his).


I think it is fair to say that map-based advertising is potentially a pretty big deal and a direct threat to Yellow Pages publishers. The list of threats is getting pretty long at this point, and yet the industry is still standing, wounded but not yet destroyed.

While map-based advertising is a higher-level threat, I stop short of buying the argument that this will be the bullet that finally fells the beast. If I can switch metaphors, perhaps this is cut No. 216 of the 1,000 required to cause death. I doubt whether the 1,000th cut will ever be administered, at least within the time frame many appear to be suggesting.

One fact worth noting is that, so far, the only participants in the adballoons product are national hotel chains. When it comes time to include local businesses (think restaurants, health clubs, dentist offices, cleaners and the like), who will bring these relationships to Google? The local sales channel may not be the impenetrable armor that some suggest, but it remains an unrivaled advantage.

Nonetheless, this is a development that directory publishers have had time to anticipate and should take seriously.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  16:05 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 10 2006
Spin-Offs No Sure Bet to Unlocking Value
BusinessWeek has an interesting take on the benefits of spin-offs, which is apropos given the likelihood that Verizon will go the spin-off route with its Information Services directory publishing unit.


A BusinessWeek study conducted by Dealogic found that � ...the six big companies that announced spin-offs in 2005 and completed them by the first week of 2006 saw no big run-up in shareholder value as a result.� The magazine found that the six companies (American Express, Dean Foods, Fortune Brands, Viacom (VIA ), Liberty Media and Clear Channel Communications) generated the same 3 percent return as the S&P 500.

One reason given for the disappointing results was that these spin-offs may have been perceived as �financial engineering� rather than strategic responses to threats from the Internet. Will this issue haunt Verizon? Probably not, since one of its objectives is to raise money to further its investment in building a digital network. Also, the balance of experience suggests directory organizations fare better as stand-alones than under the ownership of telecoms, particularly those with strategic objectives well beyond owning the local telephone exchange.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  14:39 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 6 2006
YPC in Tight with Yahoo!
YellowPages.com announced today it has entered a distribution agreement with Yahoo! that covers both Yahoo! Yellow Pages and Yahoo! Local. You can read the press release here. We will cover the deal in more detail in next week�s Local Media Journal, but here are a few highlights gleaned from a discussion yesterday with YPC chief Charles Stubbs.

The deal essentially consolidates existing agreements between Yahoo and both AT&T Yellow Pages (ex-SBC) and BellSouth A&P. Stubbs notes that the new deal is considerably expanded in several respects, including:

  • The new agreement includes Yahoo! Local in addition to Yahoo! Yellow Pages

  • Under the new agreement, YellowPages.com handles national sales (through CMRs) for Yahoo! Yellow Pages and Yahoo! Local.

  • The new deal exposes all advertisers to Yahoo! YP & Local traffic, where the previous relationship with AT&T had limitations.


Look for more coverage next week.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog , Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  09:08 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 5 2006
Small but Venerable Independent Sells to YB
Clarke Directory Publishers, an established and well-regarded niche independent publisher operating in Southern California, apparently has decided the time is right to cash in. Yellow Book issued a press release today saying it has acquired Clarke for an undisclosed sum. Clarke was established in 1950 and produces four directories with distribution topping 800,000.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  16:09 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Jan 4 2006
Syndicated Data to Be Unveiled in January
The U.S. Yellow Pages industry is set to see its first batch of syndicated usage data in a number of years. Later this month, according to a press release issued today by SRI/Knowledge Networks, 2005 usage data for 45 U.S. markets will be released. The data is being branded the Yellow Pages Market Reporter.

According to KN/SRI, 10 directory publishers participated in the study in 2005, and so far 12 certified marketing representative companies have signed up to receive the data.


While 10 publishers doesn�t sound like many, the 10 that are participating account for the lion�s share of U.S. directory revenue.

TKG has watched the process unfold of rekindling syndicated usage research. The process has been difficult due to complex methodology issues and conflicting interests among the participants. TKG applauds this development and acknowledges the hard work required to take this initiative this far. The next challenges include keeping the process together for the long haul and adding the participation of more publishers. But for now it is worthwhile noting that the initiative has achieved at least initial success.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  13:14 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Dec 16 2005
Sensis Exports a Strategy to Europe, Beyond
Spoke yesterday with Robert Rath at Sensis about a range of issues. One was to learn more about Platefood, a London-based joint venture that is majority owned by Sensis. The other partners are Norway-based Fast Search & Transfer and Schibsted, one of Norway's biggest media companies. Platefood's mission is to take the search platform developed in Australia and export it abroad. One thing that clearly emerged from the discussion is that Sensis is exporting a strategy, or the tools to execute a strategy, as much as it is exporting technology.

What Sensis is arguing is that publishers should not hand over the billing relationship with the customer -- ever. And no publisher should train users to go elsewhere to find local businesses. Yet building the index and PFP engine are not core to the value publishers bring, nor are they assets that any publisher wants to be over-dependent on to a potential long-term competitor. Platefood is offered as a chance to retain control without making a prohibitive investment. It is an enabling platform for those who wish to follow a strategy similar to the one Sensis follows in Australia.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:49 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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