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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
Volt's DataNational Proves the Exception
Back in the not-so-old days, the rule of thumb for a Regional Bell Operating Company was that Yellow Pages accounted for approximately 10 percent of revenues and 20 percent of net profit for the corporation. This meant an RBOC could count on a steady stream of cash to fund its other businesses. Because publishers faced relatively little competition from other Yellow Pages companies, they were able to price the product in a way that would maximize their returns.

On the other hand, most independent publishers were (and still are) focused primarily, if not exclusively, on the directory business. They are able to compete by charging a rate that is typically half what the incumbent publisher charges. They also compete by scoping differently and by offering smaller directories that fit neatly on top of the incumbent�s book in the kitchen drawer. Not surprisingly, there is often trench warfare between the competing sales forces that leads to animosity.

Volt Information Sciences is an exception. Volt�s primary business is staffing services, which accounted for 82 percent of the company�s fiscal 2005 net revenues. The telephone directory segment�s sales, including their DataNational �Community PhoneBook� brand, accounted for less than 4 percent of the company�s sales but almost 19 percent of its total operating profit. Clearly, this is a critical business for Volt.


The telephone directory segment grew last year by $10 million to $82.3 million through a combination of expansion and sales growth in its current markets. In fact, �DataNational was one of the first true competitors to incumbent BellSouth Advertising & Publishing in its core area markets,� according to our 2005 Global Yellow Pages� report. DataNational competes against BellSouth in many of the same ways other independents rival incumbents, but the rancor does not seem to exist. DataNational CEO Jerry DiPippo is on the YPA board. Vice President of Sales Greg Shearer said that competition was good for the marketplace and that BAPCO was a tough but fair competitor.

DataNational also offers an online Yellow Pages site, http://www.communitybook.com. It doesn�t yet offer national search capabilities but rather listings for specific DataNational directories. We expect to see enhanced and expanded IYP and local search over the next year. In the meantime, Volt is an example of a company that doesn�t always think that it�s �we vs. they.�


Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  John Kelsey at  16:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [3]



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 12 2006
SuperPages Extends Distribution to MSN Local
I got word today from Verizon that SuperPages advertisers (horizontal links across the top) will appear in MSN local search results. This is an extension of Verizon�s existing relationship with MSN, which provides the listings for MSN Yellow Pages. Verizon has been working aggressively to expand its network, as have other online Yellow Pages publishers.

Also very recently YellowPages.com announced an expanded distribution relationship with Yahoo! very much like this.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog , Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  13:36 | permalink | comments [0] | 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]





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