Category Archives: Yellow Pages

DMS ’11 Takeways: Consolidate and Verticalize

We’re over it by now. Yellow Pages aren’t universally used anymore, or as frequently used; and that there is a lot of competition for driving small business sales.

But at BIA/Kelsey’s DMS ’11 Summit last week in Denver, one walked away with a real appreciation of the foundational role that Yellow Pages still play in the SMB ecosystem; the role they may potentially play – perhaps in partnership with other media ; and the robustness of SMB ad channels in general.

As YellowBook CEO Joe Walsh noted, while the industry is definitely “in the beginnings of a shakeout or consolidation, “usage is way stronger than the perception of usage. We have to work around that perception. Yellow Pages will be around for a while. They provide a terrific ROI for advertisers.”

Walsh went so far as to lobby for intra-industry mergers, something that brought some rolled eyes from audience members , some still tied to the old wars of the phone company originated utility books versus the independent books, which originally came on the scene underpricing the utility books by 50 percent or more. Now, however, they often have common financial investors.

“Over the next couple of years, you will see coming together a lot of competitive factions within the business,” says Walsh. The advantages will include “price stability, the doubling of usage for surviving products, a higher ROI to advertisers, product stability and extended life, and a business model that can survive and grow.”

Walsh bragged that Yellowbook is still “outperforming others by six or seven times. But we are still shrinking,” even with digital growth at 18 percent or more in some heartland markets. “My advice to you is to suck it up.”

Yellow Pages can also do more than suck it up, of course. Specifically, they can verticalize their offerings. Golden Pages CEO Nir Lampert told the DMS audience how Golden Pages, which is Israel’s largest Yellow Pages company, has used online verticals focused on medical recommendations and price comparisons to remake itself into a growing company. Without the verticals, “we’d otherwise decline,” he said.

In 2010, online made up seventy percent of revenues, or $75 million. It will be 80 percent in 2011.

Lampert said that vertical development has focused on five consumer needs: Reliability, necessity, affordability, emotional involvement and specialty. “We built products that support decisions in vertical segments,” said Lampert. A lot of it is based on shared services with print and other verticals. “We realized that shifting to online is, in itself, insufficient.”

How We Are Thinking About DMS ’11: The SMB Summit

Our DMS 11 conference is taking place in downtown Denver Sept 20-22. It’s a Yellow Pages conference, and in fact, has been the industry standard for many years.

But this year, it is also a local search conference; a coupon and promotions conference; a local mobile conference; and a social media conference. The connector isn’t the Yellow Pages industry-in-a-vacuum anymore. It’s really the much broader, SMB customer base.

At DMS ‘11, we’ve invited a “who who” of important executives and thought leaders transforming SMB marketing. People like; Facebook’s Rita Fabi; Where’s Dan Gilmartin; InfoGroup’s Clare Hart; Microsoft’s Pay Hayes. AT&T Interactive’s William Hsu. Trulia’s Paul Levine; Trada’s Neil Robertson; JoinHere’s Justin Sanger; UrbanSpoon’s Fred Dimsa; and Closely’s Perry Evans.

You’ve known a number of these executives over the years — some have been at several companies by now. They’re taking that experience and moved it into the next generation of SMB marketing.

There are many, many interesting, valuable speakers participating in this event. And the attendee list is equally distinguished. Shall we see you in Denver? The cheap hotel rate has been extended. You can register here.

New U.K. Platform Launches for ‘Real Time’ SMB Hires

There are some occasions when you need to hire someone right away. At least, that’s the hypothesis of Ginjex: The availability engine,” a new ad-supported U.K. directory that focuses on real time hiring.

Launched by Mark Riley, a former exec with BT Tradespace, an SMB storefront provider, Ginjex may be considered the flip side of scheduling companies. It zeroes in on “all distressed inventory in any vertical,” says Riley. “It could also become a location based deals aggregator.

Are there that many categories that need to be hired right away? “The most applicable categories will be the ones which are the most flexible, local and over supplied or with distressed inventory,” says Riley. Casual, low-skilled labor such as car washers, house cleaners and landscapers come to mind. Categories that require “man and van” are especially urgent, he adds.

At the other end of the scale are “highly paid professionals for whom cancellations can be extremely costly if staff and space are booked. For example beauticians and dentists. If they can immediately flag up cancelled slots (ie spare capacity) then they can win back that time. Time is money, as my grandfather always said.”

MerchantCircle Adds Request for Quote

MerchantCircle last week quietly added free Request for Quote services for its large base of 1.6 million local merchants, immediately sending out more than 180,000 quotes. The quotes are based on category and locale.

Logistically, consumers that ask for quotes are asked for more information, if needed. They are then routed to merchants. The MerchantCircle system automatically creates a profile for each consumer that allows them to track which vendors have received their request, manage their responses and also go back and rate the vendors they’ve worked with.

On the merchant side, merchants receive leads in their inbox, where they can engage with the prospect or pass along the lead to other merchants in their network. Each lead is pre-qualified through the MerchantCircle system to help prevent junk and spam and to ensure quality.

MerchantCircle also announced that it will be deploying the leads feature to the CityGrid Media network. As part of the agreement, MerchantCircle will provide CityGrid with a feed of advertisers for distribution on the CityGrid network; each advertiser profile will include a clickable button that launches a lead submission form. CityGrid is an investor in MerchantCircle.

YellowBook’s Pat Marshall: Website Hosting is Core Offering, Not Listings

The Internet Yellow Pages business model has largely re-focused on hosting small business websites, and upselling from that position. At least, it has for Yellow Book.

YellowBook Chief New Media Officer Pat Marshall, speaking at the recent Borrell conference in New York, said “it used to be about listings. Now it is Websites.” Marshall noted that YellowBook will be hosting 210,000 SMB websites by the end of the month.

The websites act as a foundation for a variety of other bundled offerings, including search engine optimization and social media. Marshall said that one business went from being on the 316th page in his category to page six to page one using Yellow Book SEO.

All this has transformed YellowBook’s positioning with customers. Ultimately, It is about “trust, simplicity and performance,” said Marshall. “We see ourselves as more of a mutual fund than a pure play.”

As for Facebook, “our job is to tell (advertisers) the dos and don’ts. It is not to tell them to do it. Whether companies actively work with Facebook “is a demographic thing, not a geo thing,” said Marshall.

AT&T’s David Krantz: Mobile Now 1/3 of AT&T’s Local Search

Mobile now accounts for a third of AT&T’s local search, according to AT&T President and CEO David Krantz, who was speaking at the Borrell show last week in New York. “We truly believe that mobile is bigger than the Web,” said Krantz, noting that AT&T has some significant head starts over rivals as a vertically integrated company. For instance, the YP.com app is preloaded on many of AT&T’s phones.

Krantz also noted that AT&T has made big strides in behavioral targeting. It started with Yahoo’s APT system, and quickly sold tens of millions of dollars worth. “We had been very skeptical selling APT to customers,” he acknowledged.

But the APT product with Yahoo was priced at a high CPM and eventually hit a wall. The company has now developed a lower CPM product, which he calls “Display 2.0.” They are ad networks for targeted display,” said Krantz. “We’ve had an initial runup like we did with Yahoo, but it has kept going.”

Gannett’s Planet Discover on the Evolution of IYPs

When it was launched in 2004, Gannett’s Planet Discover was a pioneer in local search and later, the development of local online marketplaces. But it has lately had a lower profile, dating to a temporary mid-2007 mandate to focus on Gannett newspaper and broadcast properties. That mandate ended in mid-2008, and the company has since been aggressively going after new accounts both inside and outside of Gannett.

Today, the company, which is headquartered in Cincinnati and also maintains an office in Cedar Rapids, IA, provides directory, local search, events and marketplaces for nearly 100 Gannett properties. It also provides services for a wide range of non-Gannett properties. These include, most notably, CBS owned- and-operated stations, as well as McClatchy and Dow Jones community newspapers.

CEO David Lenzen tells us that the company’s directory product has especially evolved. In one installation, directory listings pull in content from CityGrid Media, such as ratings and reviews. The highly targeted content really helps “ramp up the sales effort” for Planet Discover’s partners, he says.

The modern directory actually has multiple facets to it, Lenzen notes. “We really don’t focus on it so much as an Internet Yellow Pages as an online local marketplace,” with coupons, etc. The way it has been configured it also works very well with various vertical skins. “We can easily create vertical marketplaces for a local market, including wedding, dining, and specialty automotive, for example,” he adds.

The company is now leveraging its development expertise to create native mobile apps, such as a Local News reader for Apple’s iOS and Android. The news reader is based on content that has already been ingested into the company’s seven-year-old Search Publisher.