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The Kelsey Report® Advisory

Verizon Plans to Step Up Independent Effort
Charles Laughlin , 10/6/2005

SUMMARY: Verizon Information Services (VIS) has been rolling out competitive Yellow Pages directories in out-of-franchise markets since 2002 as part of an ambitious effort to use new products to restore growth to its core print business. VIS currently publishes 95 independent books for 40 U.S. markets in 10 states, with a concentration in faster-growing Sun Belt markets. VIS says it has added 42,000 advertisers to its independent books during this period, a number the publisher says is on plan when adjusted for markets that have been discontinued, including Atlanta and Cincinnati. While VIS did not reveal its top- or bottom-line numbers, it did lay claim to being the No. 2 U.S. independent publisher, behind Yellow Book. VIS is currently on a campaign to combat the perception that the independent effort has fallen well short of expectations. Fueling this view has been the fact that the publisher pulled out of several markets in the past year, and its expansion appears to have slowed. VIS calls 2005 a breather year in which the independent organization will restructure so it can begin growing again. VIS maintains its expansion efforts are working and says its strong online product and brand umbrella (largely a result of the wireless product) have been effective differentiators in crowded directory markets. At last weeks Directory Driven Commerce (DDC) conference in Denver, VIS President Kathy Harless used her keynote address to announce that the company will launch nine new expansion markets in 2005, including Nashville, Tennessee; St. Louis; Salem, Oregon; and Tacoma, Washington. VIS declined to name the remaining new expansion markets.

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