Yellow Pages community has recently been transformed to the point where
many now question how meaningful the terms "utility" (affiliated with
an incumbent telephone company) and "independent" (unaffiliated with
a telecommunications concern) remain.
group vice president of McLeodUSA Publishing, chided The Kelsey Report
in a recent conversation for clinging to the utility/independent distinction,
which he argues has become meaningless.
He has a point.
His own company is a division of a competitive local exchange carrier
(CLEC). Yellow Book USA, wholly owned by British Telecommunications,
is another publisher that is really no longer "independent." As the
independent publishing community consolidates, the consolidators are
attracting capital and expanding into major markets, a development path
that puts strain on the old David and Goliath metaphor.
The real distinction
today is between "growth" and "defensive" publishers. Growth publishers
are seeing high single-digit to low double-digit growth rates and higher
rates when account acquisitions and new directories are considered.
These publishers - McLeod, TransWestern, White Directory, Yellow Book
USA, WorldPages.com and a few others - all used to be known as "independents."
are those with sizable market share and high EBITDA margins that are
doing little expansion with the printed product. Instead, these companies,
typically affiliated with incumbent local carriers, are trying to defend
their market against encroaching "growth" publishers.
The tables are turned
when it comes to online development. "Growth" publishers, with some
exceptions, have been very conservative in their approach to developing
online directory products. The incumbent "defensive" publishers have
been more aggressive online, though not always successful.
This White Paper
takes a look at the state of the independent - or "growth" - publishing
community, with particular emphasis on independents' approach to migrating
their products and services to the Internet.