The Kelsey Group Blog Local Media Blog 2006-03-15T13:53:04-05:00 Copyright 2004-2005 Ublog Reload 1.0.5 John Kelsey <![CDATA[Time and Money]]> 2006-03-14T12:54:38-05:00 2006-03-14T12:54:38-05:00 2006-03-14T12:54:38-05:00
The fact is that newspapers are important to tens of millions of people, as is watching television, listening to the radio or using telephone directories. eMarketer reports today that we watched an hour more of television per week in 2005 than in 2004 and 14 more hours a week than in 1975. But we all know network ratings are declining because people have a lot more choices today than they used to.

Bridge Ratings completed a survey that found commuters who drive an hour or more a day and use their phones in the car listen to the radio 26 minutes a day now compared with 32 minutes a day in 2003. That 28 percent decline was matched by a 29 percent increase in in-car cellphone usage.

The message is not complicated, but it is subtle. The vast majority of us have a limited amount of money and we all have a finite amount of time. Consumers will balance their time and their money and use them both in ways that best provide for their information and entertainment needs.

At the Drilling Down on Local conference to be held March 26-28, this is one of the topics we will explore:

Mass Media to MyMedia: Profiling the New ĎOn-Demandí Consumer
Each day it becomes more apparent that the Internet, on-demand video, wireless phones and iPods are creating a new global and local media universe ó one that is highly personalized, customizable and not tied to time, place or even a single medium. The Kelsey Group will present new consumer research that outlines this emerging consumer paradigm and discuss the most significant implications for advertisers (national and local) as they try to reach these new, more empowered consumers.
Greg Sterling, Program Director, Interactive Local Media, The Kelsey Group

John Kelsey <![CDATA[We're No. 2?]]> 2006-02-22T16:32:52-05:00 2006-02-22T16:32:52-05:00 2006-02-22T16:32:52-05:00
Who is No. 1 among cola beverages? If you ask that question in Texas, the answer would be Dr. Pepper. If you exclude fountain sales, Pepsi sells the most nationwide. But overall, Coke is the leader. Frankly, I don't really care. I drink the cola beverage that I prefer.

In the automotive category, General Motors says Chevrolet was the top-selling brand in the U.S. last year, but Ford disagrees. Ford bases its leadership claim on third-party data compiled by auto research firm R.L. Polk. Unlike Coke and Pepsi, which combined have over 90 percent of the cola market share, Ford and Chevrolet face a significant challenger in Toyota, whose brand is closing the gap, particularly when bulk sales of vehicles to fleets aren't counted.

A medium is a different animal than a beverage or a car, but the ability to show your publication as the leader in a particular market, especially on a cost-per-use basis, can be a valuable tool. If syndicated research is here to stay, and The Kelsey Group hopes it will be because it supports our ROI story, we need to have standards that everyone who participates agrees to.

If the Yellow Pages industry wants the credibility that syndicated research gives it, headlines and claims must be reasonable. I am not suggesting that any company has not told the truth in its press releases, but it is most important that the perception by advertisers reflect reality in the particular markets in which they are trying to reach their users. Otherwise, syndicated research won't be taken seriously. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Mini Directories March On]]> 2006-02-03T16:38:21-05:00 2006-02-03T16:38:21-05:00 2006-02-03T16:38:21-05:00
While some of these companions are indeed poor replicas of the real thing, particularly when a normal-size phonebook is simply shrunk by about 25 percent, others can be much more pleasing to the end user. The primary way to accomplish this is by avoiding type that is unreadable.

According to eLink, R.H. Donnelley will begin to introduce companion directories in Trumbull, Ohio; Sussex, New Jersey; and Citrus, Florida. My view is that while these are not RHD's first mini directories, they are the first ones it is building specifically as companions. More are likely to follow, but I was unable to reach anyone who would comment.
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Volt's DataNational Proves the Exception]]> 2006-01-18T16:03:01-05:00 2006-01-18T16:03:01-05:00 2006-01-18T16:03:01-05:00
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 incumbentís 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. Voltís primary business is staffing services, which accounted for 82 percent of the companyís fiscal 2005 net revenues. The telephone directory segmentís sales, including their DataNational ďCommunity PhoneBookĒ brand, accounted for less than 4 percent of the companyís 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, ďDataNational was one of the first true competitors to incumbent BellSouth Advertising & Publishing in its core area markets,Ē according to our 2005 Global Yellow Pagesô 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, It doesnít 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 doesnít always think that itís ďwe vs. they.Ē

John Kelsey <![CDATA[Google at $600?]]> 2006-01-03T09:41:20-05:00 2006-01-03T09:41:20-05:00 2006-01-03T09:41:20-05:00
The primary reason Mr. Rashtchy is so enthusiastic about the stock is that he expects Google will continue to increase its share of the rapidly growing Internet search market. In particular he expects Google Base will contribute ďmeaningfulĒ revenue by the end of the year.

Earlier this week a New York Times article about the growth of online purchasing over the holidays indicated that 33 percent of households made an online purchase, up 10 percent over last year. The growth is coming from traditional brick-and-mortar stores that are getting more sophisticated in reaching their customer base. The traditional online leaders eBay and Amazon got their share, but it took advertising and search dollars to get people to shop online at traditional stores. Again, Piper Jaffrayís Safa Rashtchy was quoted, ďIt is getting harder to make money online.Ē He clearly believes a major beneficiary will be Googleís ad network.
John Kelsey <![CDATA[...Now Give It a Review]]> 2005-12-26T22:52:55-05:00 2005-12-26T22:52:55-05:00 2005-12-26T22:52:55-05:00
Out of curiousity, I was wondering just how long has The Kelsey Group been writing about this topic, and a search of our archives shows the first artcle turned up in a Fax Bulletin (honk if you remember those) on September 19, 1994 entitled, Attention Internet Shoppers: "Home Shopping Network (HSN), the company that originated and popularized video shopping, has trained its sights on the Internet as the next mass market retailing medium. Last week it completed its acquisition of the Internet Shopping Network (ISN). The purchase is one of many recent examples of the accelerating trend toward online commerce on the Internet." We predicted ISN would offer product reviews among other services. Oops. ISN is still HSN's online outlet, but don't look for a review, for good reason, I suspect. They want to sell products. The Times says Consumer Reports provides their testers' results...good, bad or ugly, but sticks with only nice things. Not surprisingly, they have different business models. The point is the Internet is still evolving the user review area and unless you are hopping mad (like at a hotel, restaurant or airline), or an expert (like about a movie), reviewing products or services is not first on anybody's to do list yet. It's too bad, because reviews can be both intereting and beneficial.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Phone Directories Company Sells Canadian Business]]> 2005-12-23T15:56:51-05:00 2005-12-23T15:56:51-05:00 2005-12-23T15:56:51-05:00
PDC has grown rapidly the past few years. John Woodall, President of PDC, told me that overall the business was up 43% this year and that there were over a dozen companies interested in buying the Canadian business before they whittled the bidders down to a manageable number. So what will they do with the money from the sale? Don't expect any of the current PDC management to go on long term vacations. We expect that this group will use the funds to take advantage of the opportunities the Yellow Pages world offers now. There is growth in them thar hills if you know where to prospect.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[The Yellow Pages is the Yellow Pages]]> 2005-12-22T10:52:29-05:00 2005-12-22T10:52:29-05:00 2005-12-22T10:52:29-05:00
I have trouble understanding how a top business publication like BusinessWeek can say, ‚€úBelieve it or not, among the hottest media bets is the $15 billion a year U.S. Yellow Pages market.‚€Ě Why has it taken so long to recognize that a bet on Yellow Pages is a rare example of having your cake and eating it too? Some Yellow Pages publishers are generating EBITDA in excess of 50 percent. How many legal businesses can claim those margins? At the same time, the ubiquitous YP sales force is providing small businesses the one thing they sorely lack to take advantage of the growth of online business: education. Our research shows that SMEs are slower to adopt e-commerce and other Internet services than the consumer. That will change when this holiday season is over and businesses evaluate how they did and what they could do better. The Yellow Pages will be there just as they always have been. Publishers will offer print and online solutions, including pay-per-click and pay-per-phone-call. Google offers a great product, as do Yahoo! and other companies in the local search business. But Yellow Pages is the modern Yellow Pages. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Not Your Father‚€ôs]]> 2005-11-29T20:39:02-05:00 2005-11-29T20:39:02-05:00 2005-11-29T20:39:02-05:00
This approach has some risks, but it is clearly a way for the sales force to gain advertising in a world where the consumer is way ahead of the SMB in adapting the concept of local search. Obviously the name describes the product, but they reinforce that strongly by introducing a new brand design that incorporates the walking fingers in the ‚€ėa‚€ô of Yellow Pages. This had to have been an incredibly complex challenge for CEO Charles Stubbs and his team. Each of the three previous products had advertisers, and they all had to be integrated into the new Web site. In addition, the three Web businesses had relationships with suppliers and their own traffic deals. BellSouth and SBC management obviously had their opinions, which couldn‚€ôt be ignored. You can bet that sales management wanted to sure that their ox wasn‚€ôt gored. Perhaps most challenging of all are the back-office issues, which is the plumbing that the consumer and advertiser only cares about if there‚€ôs a problem. All in all it is amazing what the team has accomplished in the past year. Anyone going to is likely to have an opinion about how well they have done, but I would recommend you give this site time. It is not quite ready for prime time yet, but no one said that what is in essence a new product had to be perfect from day one. This business continues to change very quickly, and appears to be positioned to build on a very strong foundation. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Buying Ink by the Barrel]]> 2005-11-21T09:37:50-05:00 2005-11-21T09:37:50-05:00 2005-11-21T09:37:50-05:00
Ten years ago, when The Kelsey Group more closely covered the newspaper industry, we conducted annual research among both dailies and weeklies to judge their overall opinion of or interest in electronic services. Every year daily newspapers said that their primary reason for introducing electronic services of all kinds was to ‚€úremain the No.1 information source in their community.‚€Ě On the other hand, weekly newspapers told us that their primary objective was to ‚€úcreate new revenues and profit sources.‚€Ě Since electronic services didn‚€ôt generate much in the way of sales, weeklies didn‚€ôt pay much attention and focused instead on enhancing their print products. I would say that this thinking is pervasive among all the traditional media. That is, the largest players see themselves as having a ‚€úpublic trust,‚€Ě while the upstart smaller media outlets are focused on survival and taking market share of eyeballs, eardrums and greenbacks from their competitors. In the movie ‚€úGood Night and Good Luck,‚€Ě Edward R. Murrow is willing to risk CBS‚€ô largest advertiser in order to get a significant story. He saw this as an obligation that he had to his constituents. On the same page as the article questioning the future of newspapers is a piece about Google now being worth $400 a share, giving the company a total market capitalization approximately the size of California. A major reason that I read newspapers or watch TV news is because of context. Broadcasters and publishers have the opportunity to determine which stories are the most important and give them priority billing. They also control editorials. That incredible opportunity to influence people‚€ôs thinking is not likely to be replaced on the Internet no matter what electronic device we are using to access the news. As long as publishers don't lose the public trust, there will be readers and, therefore, advertisers. Will the business change? Yes, of course. Does anybody want to buy a newspaper? Absolutely. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[What's in a Name?]]> 2005-11-07T20:02:10-05:00 2005-11-07T20:02:10-05:00 2005-11-07T20:02:10-05:00
In the past, RHD has described itself as ‚€úa leading Yellow Pages publisher and directional media company.‚€Ě That was the term used in the press release for both Dex and RHD. However, the current earnings announcement describes RHD as ‚€úa leading Yellow Pages publisher and local online search company.‚€Ě Curious about this change, I called COO Peter McDonald to ask him if it was deliberate and if it reflected a new emphasis by the company on online services. Peter emphasized that revenues are growing in RHD's markets without Internet revenue included. But he said RHD execs changed the descriptor because they wanted to ‚€úget the message out that we are in the online business.‚€Ě He said that ‚€úlocal online search‚€Ě is more relevant to what RHD does, and it is something both advertisers and consumers clearly understand. McDonald did state emphatically that RHD expects to continue to grow the core business but that online clearly represented a future opportunity. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Katrina and One Company]]> 2005-11-04T06:47:24-05:00 2005-11-04T06:47:24-05:00 2005-11-04T06:47:24-05:00
It is not surprising that the Yellow Pages industry has stepped up to the plate to help their employees and their customers. Dan told me that, ironically, the White Pages for New Orleans are at the printer. He said, "I wish we could use them to help fill in the holes in the levy." The Berry Co. and BellSouth are already working hard to find available options to assist their employees and the communities in which they live and serve the public. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[A Senior Moment]]> 2005-10-26T13:45:09-05:00 2005-10-26T13:45:09-05:00 2005-10-26T13:45:09-05:00
In a separate item by David Carr, titled ‚€úWhy You Should Pay to Read This,‚€Ě the author suggests that paid content is in real danger because youth expect information to be free. They are willing to pay for the distribution vehicles ‚€ď cable, broadband Internet and cellphones ‚€ď but not for the stuff that comes through them. One of the conclusions that can be drawn from these two news items is that there will always be a market for print and other traditional media, no matter how cool the latest gadget (like videopods) may be. In addition to the nearly one-quarter of adults who are ‚€údisconnected,‚€Ě there are many others who are only semi-connected. Secondly, Yellow Pages, whether print or electronic, has always been free to the user. Directory assistance may be in danger but not classified advertising that brings buyers and sellers together. Local search is most certainly going to have an impact on the Yellow Pages industry. But look for this media to outlast those that require payment for information. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Will an 'Information Service' Designation Lead to the Sale of YP Information Ser]]> 2005-10-22T07:05:06-05:00 2005-10-22T07:05:06-05:00 2005-10-22T07:05:06-05:00
The recent earnings' results from BellSouth, SBC and Verizon all show that their growth is coming primarily from high-speed Internet and wireless. Accordingly, we believe that the FCC's recent decision will enourage more investment in DSL by the RBOCs. Since all three RBOCs have historically high debt levels, now would be a good time to consider spinning off their Yellow Pages subsidiaries to generate cash to facilitate their investment objectives. Our view is that the Yellow Pages businesses would be worth more in the private equity market if they were broken up into bite-sized contiguous chunks. There certainly is no lack of interest in the Yellow Pages business as an investment vehicle. And the success of Dex Media and R.H. Donnelley in managing incumbent Yellow Pages publishers suggests that a well-managed sale will be hugely successful.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Rock Stars, Athletes and Yellow Pages Executives]]> 2005-10-19T14:59:17-05:00 2005-10-19T14:59:17-05:00 2005-10-19T14:59:17-05:00
The confidentiality inherent in this closed industry kept jealousy at bay, and it no doubt encouraged many executives who were successful to stay with their current employers. You have to wonder if the large sums of money made by a few Dex executives may encourage some telco executives to consider opportunities in top management positions at independent publishers. This in turn could cause more turnover and further consolidation at all levels. Utility publishers have long resented their independent competitors, not only because of the potential of lost market share, but also because of the opportunity the independent executives have to operate in a non-bureaucratic environment and the chance to make big money. While Dex is classified as an incumbent, private equity firms Carlyle Group and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe were able to generate significant returns for themselves and Dex top management. This subject is not likely to be discussed from the podiums at any of the industry conferences, but it will certainly be a hot topic in the halls. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Did Verizon Demote SuperPages?]]> 2005-10-10T15:31:25-05:00 2005-10-10T15:31:25-05:00 2005-10-10T15:31:25-05:00
In the first quarter of 2001, Verizon Information Services rolled out SuperPages as the new brand identity for its print directory products. At the time, the concept of applying an Internet brand name to an offline directory was unusual, and in an April 2001 Advisory, Kelsey Report Senior Analyst Charles Laughlin lauded the decision as "a logical move in progressing toward a single platform-independent brand." However, we also pointed out that "the migration involves some risk. Products that share a brand are only as strong as their weakest link." In order to succeed, required significant marketing expenditures to create both a strong image and a relationship to Verizon. As it turns out, Verizon did not give the SuperPages brand the backing it needed and some said wasn't seen as the incumbent Yellow Pages. To remedy this, the corporation made the decision to focus on the corporate name and to re-emphasize Yellow Pages. The lack of support behind the SuperPages brand will most certainly have a negative impact on both the Internet Yellow Pages product and future related local search. It seems that the decision was made to back the profitable old horse instead of the promising young colt. "Branding and the Future of Search Marketing" is a super session at the upcoming Kelsey Group Drilling Down on Local conference that will be held next week in Santa Clara. It will be interesting to hear what this group will think of Verizon's decision.
]]> John Kelsey <![CDATA[Are RBOC Yellow Pages the Big Game?]]> 2005-10-10T15:29:27-05:00 2005-10-10T15:29:27-05:00 2005-10-10T15:29:27-05:00
The Journal goes on to predict that Carlyle won't be the largest buy-out fund for long. At least three other companies "are expected to be as big or larger." Michael Klein, head of global banking at Citigroup said, "the capital is there, the financing is there and the kinds of companies willing to consider it are there." Buy-out companies don't make money sitting on a pile of cash. That's why the headline of the story is "Carlyle's $10 Billion Puts Private Equity in Hunt for Big Game." Every major private equity firm and bank have called on the RBOCs' CFOs and strategic planners to talk to them about the benefits of a sale. Here's the back of the envelope math. The three RBOCs generate roughly $1 billion-$2 billion each in EBITDA. Let's take Verizon, whose EBITDA last year was approximately $1.7 billion. At a multiple of 8, that means it would cost something over $13 billion. Not too long ago that would not have seemed like too big a deal. In fact, it would be the second largest private equity deal in history. However, Verizon sold its Canadian operations to the second highest bidder in order to get the deal done quickly. Similarly, they moved fast in selling their other international directory businesses. Even after capital gains, this would give Verizon a sizable chunk of money to pay back debt (particularly if they do the MCI deal) and/or invest in fast-growing wireless and DSL businesses. BellSouth and SBC have similar fast-growing businesses and joint ownership of, which is devoted to the fast-growing local search/IYP business. Carlyle and Goldman Sachs, among others, have had a taste of the money that can be made in the Yellow Pages business. It seems to me the stars are aligned. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA['I Agree with What He Said']]> 2005-09-19T10:05:19-05:00 2005-09-19T10:05:19-05:00 2005-09-19T10:05:19-05:00
Will there be consolidation in Internet Yellow Pages? SBC's Denny Payne says yes. Verizon's Kathy Harless agreed, but added, "but not the way you expect." I would have loved to have followed up that comment. To a question from the audience about what they are doing to reverse the revenue decline, Dave Swanson of RHD underscored the importance of building usage and getting people, "focused on the value we bring to the marketplace." Volt's Gerry DiPippo volunteered that independents do well in opening new markets. New BAPCO President Ike Harris said the industry needs to spend more money on advertising to tell the value story. He followed that up with the interesting comment that they are lookinig at the "revenue/margin" issue. George Burnett's voice was the most forceful in the group, and he had one of the best lines. "If you think the last five years were interesting, tape up your socks because the next five years will be wild." ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Verizon Traffic Reached All-Time High in December]]> 2005-09-19T10:05:10-05:00 2005-09-19T10:05:10-05:00 2005-09-19T10:05:10-05:00
From the February 10 Yppaelinc: " traffic rose to an all-time high in December as online holiday shopping helped increase search volume. The SuperPages network, which includes and other sites with which we have traffic and partnership agreements, received more than 16,238,000 unique visitors -- an increase of 31 percent from November. And, it's estimated that 9 percent of all active online users visited the SuperPages network during the month. The site also was the 30th most popular brand on the Internet and aided in making all Verizon Web sites (,, etc.) collectively the 13th most visited Web property during December. One other notable statistic: The Buying Power Index, which shows the relative purchasing behavior of site visitors, indicates SuperPages network visitors spend 112 percent more than the average Internet user." ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Would You Take Door No. 1 or Door No. 2?]]> 2005-09-15T16:45:46-05:00 2005-09-15T16:45:46-05:00 2005-09-15T16:45:46-05:00
So if you‚€ôre looking for a way to get people to write reviews about local businesses, what would you do? Insider Pages is offering a $10 Shell gas gift card to members when they review 10 local businesses. You are required to register, but if you follow their rules, such as each review being at least 50 words, you automatically win the free gas. Yahoo! takes a different approach. Every time a member writes a review, s/he gets entered into a contest to win a Mazda, a fancy trip or a Dell DJ. Which one of these approaches will be the more successful? Obviously it‚€ôs difficult to make a comparison because many more people are likely to see the Yahoo! offer than the Insider Pages offer. Insider Pages CEO Stu MacFarlane said, ‚€úGas prices aren‚€ôt the only things that are going through the roof.‚€Ě They claim to have 250,000 customer reviews. It seems to me that the people most likely to make the reviews are going to be younger, which is okay because they probably match the demographics of the people who would be using the reviews. To take a big picture view, business will be better at serving customers if they get feedback. And so over time, these reviews could actually enhance domestic productivity. If that sounds like a stretch, consider how much credence you would pay if a business had 10 reviews. It would get my attention. But people aren‚€ôt likely to take the time to provide a review if they don‚€ôt get some reinforcement. That‚€ôs why I like Insider Pages‚€ô approach‚€¶I like the fact that I‚€ôm helping to populate and enhance the value of a Web site while getting $10 worth of gas. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[How Fast is the Digital Horse?]]> 2005-09-11T13:19:15-05:00 2005-09-11T13:19:15-05:00 2005-09-11T13:19:15-05:00
Recently, I have had the opportunity to speak to a number of publishers of all sizes to get a sense of their perspective on this important issue. My take is that Yellow Pages executives believe there will be a major movement over the next two years. Is this a case of irrational exuberance, especially when the competition is as technically savvy as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and AOL? For instance, YPA President Neg Norton reports that usage of the print product remains essentially flat for the first half of 2005 vs. the same period in 2004. Similarly, overall Yellow Pages revenues are up slightly, tracing to price-ups, strong independent growth and the success of companion directories. Reinforcing this is the fact that consumers find local products and services in whatever fashion is the easiest and quickest. As good as local search is, users have to be at a terminal and know how to find what they are looking for. For the most part, mobile phones and PDAs have not yet caught on. Importantly, advertisers are used to buying Yellow Pages ads, and they don't want to lose their position in a directory. For nearly 20 years, The Kelsey Group has been focused on the impact of new technologies on directories and other publishers. Without exception, every traditional media is facing unexpected challenges right now. Yellow Pages publishers are well positioned to continue to be the primary source of bringing local buyers and sellers together. Internet Yellow Pages and local search are improving weekly and are increasingly valuable tools. There is no question that they will begin to take advertiser dollars away from print, but don't look for this to happen overnight.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Which Search Engine is the Best?]]> 2005-09-01T11:48:26-05:00 2005-09-01T11:48:26-05:00 2005-09-01T11:48:26-05:00
For the record, at 10:30 am EST on Thursday around 8,600 votes had been cast and the clear winner among respondents is Google with 69 percent. Yahoo is the only other company in double figures with 16 percent. Voting was the only way I could see the results, but I felt a little silly doing it. I really felt like a sucker when a multi-media ad popped up for Fisher Investments. Marketing is my background so Forbes gets a few points for getting me to play their game. However my business is analysis and both the headline and the results are deceptive. Asking which search engine is the best is a little bit like polling people about the best college. The results are meaningless. What concerns me is that Forbes is likely to publish the raw data without any analysis. That does a disservice to the search engine business and the media industry. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[AIDA: Old Media Still Works!]]> 2005-08-29T10:12:40-05:00 2005-08-29T10:12:40-05:00 2005-08-29T10:12:40-05:00
Specifically, DCCI is focusing on ‚€úthe ROI data our Call Measurement Services provides to marketer and business owners,‚€Ě and how their ‚€úCall Measurement Programs deliver real-time information about high-value customers.‚€Ě They have placed the ads next to a YPA print ad with a headline, ‚€úGuess Who Leads the Way in ROI?‚€Ě And so the two ad campaigns reinforce each other. I‚€ôm not in a position to judge whether these ads will be successful in introducing their new ‚€úTelmetrics, powered by DCCI‚€Ě branding, but the direct-mail piece succeeded in increasing my Desire to know more and at least sufficient Action that I wrote this blog. Most of our company‚€ôs marketing is electronic (as you all probably are very well aware), but the part of the Yellow Pages business that still generates 90% of industry revenues lands on our front doorstep and gets put in the kitchen drawer ‚€ď the heart of the information center of most homes. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Industry Excellence]]> 2005-08-19T07:47:51-05:00 2005-08-19T07:47:51-05:00 2005-08-19T07:47:51-05:00
Truth be told, I don't much enjoy watching awards ceremonies, which can be mind-numbingly dull if not done well. The YPA hired entertainer Roy Firestone, who did his best to liven up the evening. He was fine (although his show didn't change much from last year), but no one can make the reading of what every gold, silver and bronze winner has done sound interesting. I would very much like to see the YPA provide some extra publicity for the community service awards because these are projects that really show how the Yellow Pages industry is helping their communities. The gold award was won by Sutter for " 'An Opportunity for the Future' The Sutter Vocational Grant Training Program." The silver was won by the DAC Group and Ketchum got the bronze. All three of these - and I'm sure many more who didn't receive awards - helped show the power of Yellow Pages (the theme of the conference). There were two other significant awards. Incoming YPA Chairman Dennis Payne created the Individual Achievement Award and gave it to Stu Stanze who died seven months ago. No one listening to Denny's warm recitation of Stu's accomplishments, nor his wife Carol's acceptance speech, was unmoved. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Elmer Smith. The presenters were John Berry, grandson of Loren Berry one of the people who along with Reuben Donnelley changed the shape of the Yellow Pages forever, and Ike Harris, the new head of BAPCO. Yes, awards are a meaningful gesture and some, like those described above, should be done with appropriate fanfare. So let's keep the awards and do something about the ceremonies. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Black and Yellow and Read All Over]]> 2005-08-19T00:27:57-05:00 2005-08-19T00:27:57-05:00 2005-08-19T00:27:57-05:00, a product of The Lynchburg News & Advance, covered the planned introduction of Yellow Book into the Lynchburg area with the confusing headline, ‚€úCompetitors Seeing Yellow.‚€Ě If I weren‚€ôt in the industry, I‚€ôm not sure I would have read any further. It was a standard article with quotes from spokespeople from Yellow Book, Verizon Information Services and Data National‚€ôs Community PhoneBook. Community PhoneBook ‚€údistributes directories in 12 states and often is informally referred to as the ‚€ėRed Book‚€ô.‚€Ě Everyone welcomed everybody into the marketplace, in other words, classic spin. The reporter found the owner of Graves Mill Storage who takes out a half-page ad in Verizon SuperPages. The storage company owner says that 70-75 percent of her business comes from Yellow Pages. She said she was glad to see a competitor enter the market because it will drive prices down. She didn‚€ôt mention Community PhoneBook, which distributes over 90,000 copies of its book to the Lynchburg area, already in the marketplace. What is new is that three paragraphs are devoted to the Yellow Book/Verizon lawsuit in which the summary is as neutral as the results of the suit. What was left out was any mention of local search. Print and online Yellow Pages are still seen as being unaffected by other media, at least in Lynchburg, VA. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[The Proof Is in the Pudding]]> 2005-08-18T14:01:36-05:00 2005-08-18T14:01:36-05:00 2005-08-18T14:01:36-05:00
I asked Gary Fascilla, Metro Directories CEO, to speak on the Leadership Panel at this year's Directory Driven Commerce conference in September. He accepted enthusiastically in part because of their recent success. Founded in 2001 after working at Valley and Pacific West, Metro Directories' revenues should exceed $20 million this year. Fascilla attributes his company's growth to Metro's Guaranteed Ad Program, which uses a call-tracking service managed by Standard Call. If an advertiser doesn't receive a predetermined minimum number of calls, it will receive a pro-rated refund. In a highly competitive market like Atlanta, a relatively small company needs to do something to differentiate itself among advertisers. Fascilla believes that Standard Call's measurement system provides the pudding. We believe that once established, an advertiser will show its loyalty by renewing. Call measurement is a powerful tool for an independent like Metro Directories.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Does Meckler Know Something the Rest of Us Don't?]]> 2005-08-15T17:15:09-05:00 2005-08-15T17:15:09-05:00 2005-08-15T17:15:09-05:00
But you still have to ask if he senses a slowing down in the search business. When you run a business that has conferences (such as The Kelsey Group's events) long enough, you can feel the pulse of an industry. The buyer, Incisive Media, a British-based company that heretofore has been extremely successful in specializing in business information niches (not unlike Primedia could have been if it had had decent management), obviously believes in the future of this business even though it has no experience. "Search is considered by many to be the main driver behind the growth of online advertising spend throughout the world," the company's press release crowed. The picture on the front of today's New York Times Business Section is an old one showing Gerald Levin happily shaking Steve Case's hand after Warner paid too much for AOL. That was a merger. This is an asset sale. Still, it makes you wonder who got the better deal. It's not clear exactly what the multiple of revenues or earnings was, but $43 million in cash will let Mr. Meckler buy a lot of images. For the record, The Kelsey Group believes that the search business, in particular local search, is still in its infancy. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Still the Most Profitable Media Business Around]]> 2005-08-15T10:43:25-05:00 2005-08-15T10:43:25-05:00 2005-08-15T10:43:25-05:00
BAPCO showed stronger revenues in both the first and second quarters than it had in 2004. Verizon's earnings increased even as its revenues declined. As a result, Verizon's operating margins climbed from 45.9% to 47.3%. While SBC's margins declined, they remain the highest among major incumbent publishers. Year-to-date revenues for the big three have declined less than The Kelsey Group anticipated incumbents would fall for the year (-0.7% vs. -1.2%). We do not anticipate much change in the remainder of 2005. IYP/local search sales by these companies are gaining traction and the Bells are able to make price-ups stick. We might change our tune when and if we see a major decline in revenues, but that doesn't seem to be on the near-term horizon. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Got Fingers?]]> 2005-08-12T09:58:00-05:00 2005-08-12T09:58:00-05:00 2005-08-12T09:58:00-05:00
It is interesting that ‚€úLet your fingers do the walking,‚€Ě which was introduced in 1964 by AT&T‚€ôs relatively small Yellow Pages division, came in No. 16. That puts our tagline ahead of such notables as ‚€úPlease don‚€ôt squeeze the Charmin‚€Ě (No. 21), ‚€úLook ma no cavities‚€Ě (No. 28), ‚€úThey‚€ôre gr-r-r-eat!‚€Ě (No. 40), and even ‚€úThis Bud‚€ôs for you‚€Ě (No. 52). This suggests that the Yellow Pages industry has an opportunity. Obviously, it is important to test our tagline to see what the image suggests to consumers and advertisers, but it works just as well in the online world as it does in the print world. We‚€ôd like to see the industry consider helping our sales force do its job by supporting the ROI story. There‚€ôs a good chance that our tagline can help. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[The Hotel Business Center Is Really a Consumer Center]]> 2005-07-29T19:27:13-05:00 2005-07-29T19:27:13-05:00 2005-07-29T19:27:13-05:00
The Kelsey Group's overly simplistic model of the electronic world looks like this. Content can be information, advertising, video, etc.; the delivery of that content might be cable, DSL or wireless; and the device which is used for access could be a computer, a PDA or a cellphone, among others. It has been our view that this circle is only as strong as its weakest link and that always on, high-speed access is critical to the success of the electronic world. The fact that a Hyatt in Virginia, a Holiday Inn in Durham and an Ameri-Suites at RDU airport all offered Internet access in the guest rooms is not a surprise. That the service was free and high speed did get my attention. What blew me away was that there were computers in their business centers that allowed me to use this service at no cost. (As an added bonus, my cellphone worked clearly in all three hotels.) Being in Durham during an ACC basketball game is quite an experience. Everything everywhere was crowded. Using local search from the computer in the business -- make that consumer -- center allowed us to get around the crowds. See for yourself how fast this industry is changing at The Kelsey Group's conference on Drilling Down on Local: The Online/Offline Opportunity, April 18-20, in Santa Clara, California. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[It's Time to Reconsider a Broadcast Advertising Campaign]]> 2005-07-25T08:49:37-05:00 2005-07-25T08:49:37-05:00 2005-07-25T08:49:37-05:00
I don't buy either of these two arguments. Marketing works and dollars spent are additive. In 1979, AT&T decided that long-distance advertising should no longer be handled by each of the 21 individual operating companies. In a wildly unpopular move (ad managers throughout the Bell System saw their three-martini lunches and football tickets disappear), AT&T brought all long-distance advertising into headquarters so that users all over the country would hear a single message as part of a coordinated marketing effort. As a result, long-distance revenues went up dramatically. Ken Clark, in a recent YP Talk piece, decried the fact that Yellow Pages was not mentioned in an article that discussed every other major media. I think we all agree that it is incredibly frustrating when people who are writing about the media leave Yellow Pages out. Too many people who should know better just don't think of the Yellow Pages as a medium. As Ken wrote, "Yellow Pages is currently a faceless media with brands that do little to stir anyone's passion. We don't have a pubic image that excites our users, the media and even potential advertisers." The YPA does an outstanding job with its public relations budget as exemplified by Neg Norton's memo today about feature articles in important vertical publications, but this is just not enough. The industry needs a broadcast advertising campaign, aimed primarily at the advertising community to support our sales people. Yellow Pages has a tremendous ROI story to tell both in print and electronic. Advertisers need to get this message not just from the person coming in selling an ad, but also from the broadcast media. Major obstacles to implementing an ad campaign include the need for a near-unanimous agreement by the major publishers to spend money; the sour taste left by the Jon Lovitz/Get An Idea fiasco; the lack of an existing advertising plan that people can buy off on; and the fact that the individual publishers each believe they can serve their own interests better than trade organizations can. Ken Clark showed how Lyle Wolf is advertising Yellow Pages in China. With all due respect to my friend Lyle, I can't think of anyone more associated with yellow than Lance Armstrong. Imagine if he were riding for the Yellow Pages team instead of the Discovery team! Stephanie Hobbs, vice president of marketing for the YPA, told me that they have approached the Lance Armstrong Foundation several times to enter into a partnership with the YPA, but to date they have been unresponsive. I'd settle for a walking fingers logo on his shirt, but it would be even better if Lance would tell the world that he uses Yellow Pages. I know this is an uphill battle, but let me make it clear that I am not suggesting that we do a consumer advertising campaign, but rather one aimed specifically at advertisers, the investment community and other media. Corporate budgets are being determined now. In fact, it may already be too late for 2006. But we have to start somewhere and I hope our industry leaders can convince their boards that there is tremendous upside with a coordinated advertising campaign. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Hello! Yellow Pages Benefits Your Community]]> 2005-07-21T12:29:18-05:00 2005-07-21T12:29:18-05:00 2005-07-21T12:29:18-05:00
According to Amy Healy of the YPA, the public policy committee covered this topic in its Las Vegas meeting. She said that there are towns that have "do not deliver" proposals pending, but they stemmed from an effort to reduce litter. "This is the first one to our knowledge that stems from an unsolicited advertising perspective," according to Ms. Healy. Do not call and do not spam lists are entirely different because they serve an infinite universe. An advertiser who buys a quarter-page ad in a local directory is expecting to reach the people in the community. He is half the equation of bringing buyers and sellers together. This is not a solicitation like you'd receive from a telemarketer, a spammer or even a direct marketer. Yellow Pages serves merchants who are the heart of the business community and consumers with businesses that are looking for the valuable products and services they sell. We urge the industry to fight this camel's nose that has snuck under the tent. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Uzal Got It Right 10 Years Ago]]> 2005-07-05T11:01:16-05:00 2005-07-05T11:01:16-05:00 2005-07-05T11:01:16-05:00
Tom Mohr, president of Knight-Ridder Digital, added, "I sometimes don't think we have fully come to terms with the degree to which we need to undergo transformational change in order to be in a defensible position for the next five to 20 years." I wonder if newspapers have been hearing this message for so long that they don't hear it anymore. At the Interactive Newspapers Conference 10 years ago in February of 1995, keynote speaker Uzal Martz, president of the Pottsville Republican and vice chair of the NAA, told the 700 people in the audience, "The only certainty is a rapidly accelerating pace of change of everything around us including the technology...we must change, adapt or die." Not only is classified advertising being hit by new products with more value to consumers, but display ads are being hurt by the mergers of big advertisers like Sears/K-Mart and SBC/AT&T. Meanwhile, readership is declining. Aggressive newspapers that are willing to change are joining with partners ( or developing their own verticals like Cox's, but too many papers are managing their business to maximize short-term cash flow. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Play It Again, Sam?]]> 2005-06-30T19:09:14-05:00 2005-06-30T19:09:14-05:00 2005-06-30T19:09:14-05:00
Specifically, digital radio can offer listeners very high-quality sound and allow stations to split their signals to increase channels. The problem is the conversion is expensive, perhaps $100,000 per radio station, and only listeners who have digital receivers will notice the difference. The chief executve officer of the second largest radio giant, Viacom's Infinity, was quoted in Monday's Wall Street Journal as saying, "The industry did not invest in its future. If we had invested three to five years ago, people would be thinking differently about our competitors." The key point here is the recognition that the competition isn't other advertiser-supported radio stations, but rather other delivery vehicles. The radio industry's revenues did not climb back to the level of 2000 until last year. Earlier this year, 21 radio groups agreed to "accelerate the transition to digital radio" in about 2,000 stations so that they can begin broadcasting both digital and analog signals. That's $2 billion or about 10 percent of their 2004 revenue. The leaders of the Yellow Pages industry should take note of the similarity of their position to radio. Yellow Pages publishers must forge industry cooperation to develop a meaningful Internet Yellow Pages local search product. In research results released today by The Kelsey Group and ConStat, 70 percent of U.S. households now use the Internet when shopping locally for products and services. This is up from 60 percent less than 18 months ago. The trend is clear. The time for Yellow Pages publishers to cooperate and invest in its future is now while the technology is still relatively young.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[A $1 Trillion Market Cap for Google?]]> 2005-06-30T18:42:48-05:00 2005-06-30T18:42:48-05:00 2005-06-30T18:42:48-05:00
Sorry, but I simply don't believe Google will reach a trillion-dollar market cap. Don't get me wrong, Google is an incredible company. One of the things that I like about them is their relative modesty, something that is not often seen by management of companies that have grown quickly. Two very good companies regretted their hubris. Naveen Jain was CEO of InfoSpace when he predicted that his company would grow like Jack's beanstalk. It has had a tremendous run, but the credit goes to its current management. Similarly in early 2001, Forbes did a cover story on Cisco in which CEO John Chambers did not dispute that his company could grow at 15 percent a year for the forseeable future. The timing was unfortunate in that Cisco has yet to recover from the technology slump that began in earnest when the Internet bubble burst in February/March 2001. This is an old story. Andrew Tobias wrote a marvelous book in 1970 after serving as the 22-year-old marketing vice president of National Student Marketing Corporation. "The Funny Money Game" was the true story of a company that Wall Street analysts were told would grow at 300 percent a year through acquisitions. As I recall, the book started with a (fictional) description of the National Student Marketing Corporation pavillion at a World's Fair dwarfing that of General Motors' next door. I don't have to tell you what happened to National Student Marketing. Google is not going to go down the tubes. In fact, I believe it is helping to change the very nature of directional advertising, reaching shoppers when they are ready to buy. But articles suggesting that Google will be a trillion dollar company hurt the search business more than they help it.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Together Again: The Horses are Back in the Barn]]> 2005-06-03T20:40:38-05:00 2005-06-03T20:40:38-05:00 2005-06-03T20:40:38-05:00
The Kelsey Group agrees that it is important to include IYP and local search products offered by publishers to help national advertisers make informed local Yellow Pages buying decisions. Our concern was that a method for including online look-ups could not be agreed upon quickly and that the syndicated program would be slowed down or weakened. It appears that a compromise was reached. While Dex took an unpopular position by reneging on its initial support for syndicated research, we supported the concept of including electronic with print to put Yellow Pages on a level playing field with other media. Most importantly, the future of the Yellow Pages is stronger because the community has come together once again on this significant issue.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Tiger, Joe, Byron and Katie]]> 2005-05-27T16:14:05-05:00 2005-05-27T16:14:05-05:00 2005-05-27T16:14:05-05:00
Let's start with sports. As any golfer knows, Tiger Woods' streak of making 142 consecutive cuts stretching back to February 1998 was broken last week at the Byron Nelson Championship. (Mr. Nelson's 11 consecutive wins on the tour is similar to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak in that neither will ever be broken.) And how about Katie Brownell? The only girl and an all-star since she was nine in her upstate New York little league., Katie pitched a perfect game, striking out 18 straight opponents. That's a more perfect game than Don Larson pitched in 1956, and he wasn't batting .714 like Katie is. So our client asks a good question and an important one. The easy answer is Yes. Yellow Pages publishers, like newspapers and broadcasters, are most certainly losing revenue because people are turning to the Internet for their directional media needs. But please don't ask me to be too specific because all we can do is estimate. Next week our Global Yellow Pages report: The Kelsey Group's Outlook and Forecast is going to be published. (Major pieces of it are already available to customers.) That report has over 500 pages of very detailed information presented in both a macro and a micro approach. That is, we cover markets in the aggregate and we provide specific details about every major company in the Yellow Pages community. Compiling the numbers is hard, and we are pleased to showcase the Tiger, Joe, Byron and Katie of the Yellow Pages industry. The harder part is the direction and the velocity of change. Sports analysts have to live with their predictions til the next game. We hear about our forecasts for years. We'll accept the accountability.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Telco Mergers and NHL Hockey]]> 2005-05-20T07:04:00-05:00 2005-05-20T07:04:00-05:00 2005-05-20T07:04:00-05:00
Everybody involved in hockey -- not just players and management, but people who sell beer or jerseys -- loses. No one who was not intimately involved in the negotiations can understand what went on between the two sides, but the end result is that this was the first cancellation of a major league sport in North America ever. The losers from the telecommunications deals (let's include SBC and AT&T here) are not as immediately obvious, but the mergers will have a much greater impact on the economy. Thousands of people will lose their jobs through "cost savings," and prices will rise, particularly for small businesses, through less competition. If small businesses spend more money on communications (a required expenditure), they will have less money to spend on marketing their goods and services. Cutting marketing and sales expenses is what companies have always done when they need to increase their bottom line. It's a short-term gain, but a long-term loss. Marketing, whether it's enhancing the image of your brand or telling people where they can buy your products and services, is one of the things that makes the U.S. economy so robust. Advertising has outpaced GDP most years and that is a good thing for everyone involved in media, marketing, retailing and most every other industry. So the 2004/2005 NHL hockey season is over, and both sides are at fault. But the season of larger telecommunications companies is just getting started. We all lose.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Top of the Heap? Supermarkets and Ample Leg Room]]> 2005-05-19T14:52:34-05:00 2005-05-19T14:52:34-05:00 2005-05-19T14:52:34-05:00
At any rate, what is germane to this blog is that Harris asked about online search engines, Internet service providers and online retailers, all of whom did pretty well with 79%, 72% and 70% of adults saying they are doing a good job of customer service. Somehow comparing search engines and ISPs with packaged food companies and brokerage firms seems a little odd, but it's nice to know that we are working in full-fledged industries. Air travel is another fact of life like buying groceries and paying bills. What amenities does eMarketer report business travelers want? No surprise here, the answer is ample leg room (88%) and 63% wanted extra overhead/on-board storage. What was curious was that an increasing number of business travelers want in-flight Internet access (36% up from 27% last year), and 23% believe cellphone usage should be permitted in flight. I can survive without both, thank you, because that is the one place that I am not "always on." eMarketer does a good job of reporting on trends, and I applaud their ability to cover those of value. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Name, Rank and Revenue Number]]> 2005-05-10T09:37:52-05:00 2005-05-10T09:37:52-05:00 2005-05-10T09:37:52-05:00
The question is, why can‚€ôt the big telco publishers participate in the revenue growth? If the U.S. Military Academy that trained Generals Grant and Lee can change to meet the needs of their country, surely telco publishers can change to get back on a growth path. Companion books, IYP, larger ad items, awareness products and an expansion effort by Verizon have all helped to stop the bleeding, but they do not seem to be the silver bullet. As is pointed out in GYP, ‚€úMany of the larger publishers‚€ô efforts to drive core product growth are not sustainable long-term sources of growth.‚€Ě Digital services combined with outstanding operations and sales experience will help over the next few years to stabilize revenue, but eventually advertisers are going to follow consumers onto the Internet in an increasingly broadband world. The fact is that the RBOCs don‚€ôt see Yellow Pages as mission critical, the way incumbents like Dex and R.H. Donnelley do. That is their prerogative since we‚€ôre certainly not dealing with national security. "What is the Future of Yellow Pages‚€Ě will be discussed at The Kelsey Group‚€ôs annual Directory Driven Commerce conference in Denver, September 27-29, 2005. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[So, You Think Economics are Complicated?]]> 2005-04-28T16:00:46-05:00 2005-04-28T16:00:46-05:00 2005-04-28T16:00:46-05:00
Reading some of the recent Kelsey Group blogs reinforces this concern. Companies declare strong earnings but plummet because their guidance does not meet Wall Street expectations. Yahoo! and Google are offering evermore sophisticated search opportunities, and only industry experts can figure out how to take advantage of the new services. You wonder whether these behemoths are adding new applications for users or for Wall Street. At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, I believe the majority of cellphone users in the U.S. are stumped by their inherent complexity and only use a few of the phone's capabilities. The same is true for computers and most of what Mossberg talks about in his WSJ technology column every Thursday. In order for local search to really take off, both consumers and advertisers have to understand the economic benefit of changing what they are doing today to buy or sell products and services. Every consumer and business can have access to super-fast broadband, but if the economic benefit is not clear, the concept will take a long time to catch on. It seems to me that the technology is racing way ahead of understanding and ease of use. The stock market seems to reward potential more than reality. No wonder people have such a poor understanding of basic economics. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Would You Like Lettuce with Your Journal?]]> 2005-04-28T09:31:26-05:00 2005-04-28T09:31:26-05:00 2005-04-28T09:31:26-05:00
Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, Ruppert Murdoch faulted the industry for having been "remarkably, accountably complacent" about new technologies, including the Internet. In Frank Barnako's Internet Daily Report in MarketWatch, Murdoch is quoted as saying, "I suspect many of you in this room were quietly hoping this thing called the digital revolution would just limp along. Well it hasn't, and it won't." (The question that I have to ask is when did Mr. Murdoch see the light? Last week, last year or last millennium?) His suggestion is that newspapers should experiment with putting bloggers' comments and reporting on newspapers' Web sites to supplement their news coverage. On Saturday, I saw a different approach being taken by the Wall Street Journal. When I checked out of my local supermarket, the cash register receipt contained a coupon saying "get four weeks of The Wall Street Journal free!" This is the same Wall Street Journal that not all that long ago had the largest subscriber base and readership in the country. Now when non-subscribers purchase a quart of non-fat peach frozen yogurt, they can get 20 free issues. It will be interesting to see which of these two approaches generates more readers. In fairness, WSJ Online is the most successful subscription-based electronic newspaper site. But I haven't seen a coupon for the WSJ Online at my grocery store. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[One Person Does Make a Difference]]> 2005-04-05T09:44:14-05:00 2005-04-05T09:44:14-05:00 2005-04-05T09:44:14-05:00
Stu's wife Carol, along with their son Doug, accepted this award, which was presented on the same night that Elmer Smith received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the industry. There is little question that Elmer was a strong and thoughtful industry leader who made a difference in every area of the Yellow Pages business he touched. The industry will miss him in his retirement after 40 years of service. The achievements of many people in the Yellow Pages industry are not as widely known as those of industry leaders. We were asked to write a letter supporting Stu Stanze's nomination, and we happily obliged. But the words we used don't come close to what Denny Payne said: "More than any single person, Stu is responsible for the directory industry's paradigm shift to a business model based on a sense of urgency, clear customer focus and revenue generation." I wish we had written these words because it is this kind of effort that makes the Yellow Pages such a strong medium and will allow the industry to survive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Denny said that Stu broke "through years of habit and ingrained create a better way of doing things. It was more than efficiencies he produced through technology and innovation...he changed how we do business." For several years, Amdocs, where Stu worked after SBCDO, submitted nominations to The Kelsey Group to provide recognition to Stu. Other deserving candidates won the award, perhaps because of Stu's relative youth. I am pleased that the YPA recognized that one person really can make a difference. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[An Outsider's View of Yellow Pages]]> 2005-03-25T10:27:43-05:00 2005-03-25T10:27:43-05:00 2005-03-25T10:27:43-05:00
Not surprisingly, Kennard says that private equity is good for the industry because it allows publishers to focus on their core business and expand horizontally. He makes a distinction between the core business of selling advertising and "our franchise of local search." His view is that the industry's most important challenge is to figure out how to deliver our product over multiple platforms. If that sounds familiar, how about his central theme: "The Yellow Pages' value story hasn't been told as effectively as it should be." Well, that is easier said than done, sir. He said that publishers must figure out how to compete "fanatically." Finally, he commented that "the culture of the industry needs to change," but he didn't provide any solutions to this daunting challenge either. Of course Mr. Kennard is right, even though he sounded a little bit like he was scolding the audience. But he really didn't say anything that the 600 attendees don't already know. Sure Yellow Pages management needs to do a better job with the tools at their disposal and they need to be better prepared for the future. But what industry, or what company for that matter, doesn‚€ôt that apply to?]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA["We're No. 1"]]> 2005-03-07T11:08:05-05:00 2005-03-07T11:08:05-05:00 2005-03-07T11:08:05-05:00 was the No. 1 IYP site within its region in 2004, according to consumer research firm comScore. They are not close to No. 1 outside of their region. We do not have information on how other publishers have done in their market areas. Dex Media's success is in part a function of the excellent job they have done in increasing brand awareness. It also reinforces the quality of their site because users won't come back if they aren't satisfied. Dex has created an intuitive search technology with deep content that brings people back.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[How to Summarize a Meeting]]> 2005-03-01T15:52:25-05:00 2005-03-01T15:52:25-05:00 2005-03-01T15:52:25-05:00
Subject: bear stearns media conference - one line summary Advertising perspectives from our Media Conf - from A. Quadrani. Surprising amount of consistency from both ad buyers and sellers which suggested the ad market is healthy but dollars being dispersed to many more mediums. Broadcast TV is weak. Radio is lackluster (although some hope w/LIM), cable mixed, newspapers sluggish, magazine decelerating after solid ‚€ô04, internet explosive, in-store getting more interest. Everyone optimistic re internet. Given the fact that there were about 40 companies that made presentations, this gives new meaning to the term "making a long story short." ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[The Changing Ear of Radio]]> 2005-02-23T16:41:13-05:00 2005-02-23T16:41:13-05:00 2005-02-23T16:41:13-05:00
Most every traditional medium today faces challenges from new technologies. Yellow Pages and newspapers, the primary print directional media, are being affected mostly by the Internet. Radio faces the double whammy of iPod and other portable digital audio players and satellite radio. The former is a much more significant threat to radio, and Ad Age correlates digital audio players with the decrease in radio ratings. In many respects the Yellow Pages and newspaper industries are in a much better position than radio. As an advertising medium, radio can't adopt audio players or satellite delivery and generate ad dollars. Yellow Pages and newspapers have already begun to generate advertising revenue from the Internet. People need directional media; the question is will the current players be the ones who provide it in the future. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Conferences: A Leading Industry Indicator?]]> 2005-02-08T12:55:54-05:00 2005-02-08T12:55:54-05:00 2005-02-08T12:55:54-05:00
Conferences tend to reflect how the business is right now. When business is struggling, publishers will either put a numerical limit on the total number of employees that can attend an event or institute the more draconian requirement that everyone who goes to an event must be approved by the boss. Based on this unscientific approach, the directory publishing business is in good shape. The YPA, the ADP and the EADP are all anticipating more attendees in 2005 than they had in 2004. The YPA is full with 60 exhibitors and a long waiting list. Similarly, the ADP sold out nearly all of their 52 booths the first day they went on sale. All three trade associations have experienced membership growth over the last few months. They say they are getting a mixture of traditional publishers and technology companies. This suggests that publishers, suppliers, agencies and investors have confidence in the Yellow Pages business, broadly defined. We agree.]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[The Bell No Longer Tolls]]> 2005-02-04T08:46:22-05:00 2005-02-04T08:46:22-05:00 2005-02-04T08:46:22-05:00
I tell people today I worked for AT&T when it was the Bell System ( The corporation had $125 billion in assets and over a million employees who worked at Bell Labs, Western Electric, Long Lines and 22 Bell telephone companies. One of those was Southwestern Bell Corporation whose successor has now bought AT&T. AT&T wasn‚€ôt perfect before it was forced into divestiture in 1984, but the public switched telephone network worked exceedingly well. The company was driven by a philosophy of providing outstanding service, and every manager at every level was held accountable. The monopoly the government granted Theodore Vail and Walter Gifford in return for providing everyone universal local service was mostly benevolent. The Bell System reflected a simpler time in our society. Today the communication company must meet the changing needs of consumers who want multiple forms of audio/video simultaneously. AT&T wasn‚€ôt up to the task anymore than Western Union was. The question for the local media corner of the world is whether SBC will help pay for AT&T by selling off its SBCDO assets. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[My Wish for the YP Industry in 2005]]> 2005-02-02T11:21:07-05:00 2005-02-02T11:21:07-05:00 2005-02-02T11:21:07-05:00
In Bambi Francisco's article she seems to assume that everyone is a writer on Internet issues and no one uses the Yellow Pages anymore. This just isn't true. Despite the tremendous increase in online usage throughout 2004 and especially during the holiday shopping season, references to Yellow Pages listings have remained steady. The Yellow Pages industry is finally working together on syndicated usage (the KN/SRI press release tells the tale), but it is going to take some time before we have enough usable data for the sales force to take into the field. Still, the industry has an impressive return on investment story. Let's not wait for the syndicated usage to get the message out. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[Will Next Week's Headline Be About Credit Cards?]]> 2005-02-02T11:16:24-05:00 2005-02-02T11:16:24-05:00 2005-02-02T11:16:24-05:00
According to research The Kelsey Group conducted last June, 78 percent of small business advertisers have Web access. Over 50 percent of SMEs have broadband and a Web site. With headlines like the one above, it is no wonder that newspapers are losing their readership. Not only is the Times‚€ô story not news today, it wasn‚€ôt even particularly news in 1988. That summer our family spent some time in Paris. One night we had dinner with a friend who owned a patisserie. Over dinner our friend told us how important his Minitel was to him. Minitel was introduced in 1983 by France Telecom as a way to save money on telephone directories. But it quickly became more than an online White and Yellow Pages as people discovered the benefits of e-mailing and shopping online. ]]>
John Kelsey <![CDATA[The Marshall Leaves Town]]> 2005-02-02T11:07:35-05:00 2005-02-02T11:07:35-05:00 2005-02-02T11:07:35-05:00
Pat has been actively involved in the earliest development of operator-assisted Yellow Pages, Internet service provision, and video on demand. But he is perhaps best known as the father of, the IYP/local search rabbit that everyone has been chasing since 1995.

As happens with most change agents, their days get numbered, and it comes time to move on. We'd expect Pat to show up as a major player in another market-leading organization. This Marshall understands the new frontier.