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Aug 1 2005
Aptas, ISX, YPsolutions Form Local Matters
Three technology firms serving different segments of the online directory and local search space have merged in the interest of broadening their collective base of customers and extending the range of services offered. Aptas, recognized for its work in extracting and organizing Yellow Pages ad content into a searchable database, has gotten together with YPsolutions, which offers both look and feel online publishing and a standard search-based IYP platform, and ISX, which enables data for delivery in a voice and wireless environment. The new firm, called Local Matters, made the rounds of recent industry conferences to "soft launch" the new technology brand.

Perry Evans, the Aptas founder who is leading the new venture, discussed the merger with The Kelsey Group at our recent Drilling Down conference in Santa Clara. He said the three companies offer complementary technologies and together create a complete solution for "local digital infrastructure." Evans believes this is a huge opportunity that requires a "well-funded leader" to execute.

Aptas and YPsolutions bring together different customer sets. Aptas counts among its customers Dex Media and the Australian publisher Sensis, while YPsolutions' clients include R.H. Donnelley and Phone Directories.

ISX is clearly part of the mix to create technologies for publishers to launch viable voice-enabled directory services. ISX powers the Sensis 1234 DA service in Australia, among other projects. Evans believes the shift from consumer pay (the current DA model) to more ad-supported services is coming soon. He expects to begin seeing some initial product rollouts in the "hybrid voice-Internet" space beginning in 2006, and he expects his new venture to be part of that progression.

Voice remains a longer-term opportunity -- maybe three to five years before the big payoff. The near-term benefits of the merger include collective stability from sharing infrastructure and funding sources. YPsolutions and ISX will certainly see a boost in R&D exposure, since Evans notes Aptas was spending between US$8 million and US$10 million on R&D. Cross-selling is another clear opportunity. Aptas now has a established base of customers in the independent segment that it could conceivably upsell with a broader mix of technology products. Evans notes that YPsolutions has developed technologies that are well targeted to smaller publishers, including the ability to take a PDF file and transform it into searchable content.

Broadly speaking, the opportunity comes from offering a full range of solutions for publishers looking to enable their business to complete in the local directional media space -- offering searchable data, performance-based pricing and a seamless multi-platform delivery of advertising content.

Local Matters combines into a company of some substance, with 40 customers and installations in about 18 countries, with 150 employees, Evans tells us. The new company will maintain current staffing and independent organizations through 2005, but a long-term reorganziation is inevitable, and no doubt necessary to extract all available synergies.

The Aptas board will become the Local Matters board, which includes former BellSouth A&P President Don Perozzi and former R.R. Donnelley CEO John Walter.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:36 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 29 2005
UK Regulator Seeks Investigation into Directories Market
Britain��s Office of Fair Trading issued a statement on April 5 that it would request that the nation��s Competition Commission begin an investigation into the UK classified directories market. The OFT made the recommendation based on its conclusion that the competition that has emerged recently in the UK directories market has not produced results that satisfy the agency.

The agency appears to want highly distributed market share, less profitable market leaders and less expensive advertising choices for small businesses. The OFT has since 2001 placed Yell, the market leader, under a strict rate cap, equal to the rate of inflation (retail price index) less 6 percent. From 1996 to 2001 the rate cap was RPI minus 2 percent. The OFT��s announcement does not guarantee a renewal of the rate cap, nor does it suggest that a rollback is very likely.

The Kelsey Report will cover this issue in greater detail this week in the Local Media Journal as well as in an upcoming Advisory.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  19:27 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 28 2005
Eniro Digs Itself Slowly Out of Core Product Hole
The Swedish publisher Eniro AB has pledged to reduce the decline of its Swedish print business at a faster pace than earlier promised. The publisher saw its print directory revenues in its flagship Swedish market decline by almost 11 percent last year. It originally pledged to cut that figure to minus 5.5 percent and 0 percent in 2006. In its first-half results issued this week, the publisher said it expected print in Sweden to decline by 3 percent this year, and reach neutrality next year.

It appears that some of the measures the publisher has taken to stem the decline, including a product overhaul, process improvements, pricing changes and a sales reorganization, are starting to take effect.

The Kelsey Group will produce a detailed Advisory in August that takes a look at half-year results and analyzes what they say about the direction of the global Yellow Pages industry in 2005.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  09:11 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 18 2005
Swedish Businesses Following Consumers Online
A survey from eMarketer reveals some interesting data on the Swedish online advertising market. Swedish advertisers are moving full force into online advertising in Europe's most wired country. But there is fairly widespread dissatisfaction with online advertising among Swedish Internet users.

This item has both good and bad news for Sweden's directory industry, which has already gone multi-platform. In 2004, market leader Eniro generated almost 33 percent of its revenues in Sweden from online and voice services (including DA).

One possible inference from the apparent disconnect between advertisers and consumers is that advertisers are ahead of consumers in terms of adopting online advertising. Another is that online advertising has done a better job of alienating than persuading consumers.

However, when 72 percent of Swedish advertisers (a number derived from a sample of just 89) say they use online advertising, it can't just be based on following the fad. Swedish consumers are online and advertisers know they need to be there. The key perhaps is to be there when consumers look for them, rather than trying to force themselves into the consumer's field of vision. This speaks to the power of online directional media.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  00:59 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 5 2005
TransWestern to 'Explore Strategic Options'
TransWestern Publishing issued a brief press release today announcing that it has engaged Goldman Sachs to "explore strategic alternatives." Generally, this language translates into, "We are for sale."

One question of course is, who is the likely buyer? Yellow Book always comes to mind whenever the sale of any major independent comes up (or any independent for that matter). Another private equity transaction is always a possibility. Or what about another media player? Hearst bought White in order to broaden its customer and content base, not to mention its cash flow and revenue stream. Who's to say another media player won't show an interest in a company that has revenues of close to US$400 million and an EBITDA margins of around 30 percent?

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:21 | permalink | comments [3] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 5 2005
YBR Sale Gets Green Light
An article yesterday on reported that European antitrust regulators have given the nod to the acquisition of Yellow Brick Road by an international private equity consortium. YBR is a holding comany that includes Fonecta (Finland), Mediatel (Austria and Czech Republic) and the Netherlands (Telefoongids). The buyers, led by Australia's Macquarie Bank Ltd., bought the publishing group from the private equities 3i Group and Veronis Suhler Stevenson in May for 1.8 billion euros.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  09:07 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 1 2005
Sensis Enters Online Recruitment Business
The Australian directory publisher Sensis continues its expansion into markets traditionally dominated by newspapers by entering the online recruitment advertising business. Sensis makes its move through the creation of a separate business called LinkMe, which will operate as a joint venture between Sensis and Morgan & Banks Investments.

The online recruitment advertising business is said to be worth 2 billion Australian dollars.

The Kelsey Group will address the issue of convergence between the directories and classifieds businesses in a session titled, Creating Cross-Media Synergies, at our Directory Driven Commerce Conference, which takes place Sept. 27-29, 2005, in Denver.

John King, who is in charge of the classifieds business for Sensis, will be among the panelists.

TKG will cover the LinkMe announcement in greater detail in next week's Local Media Journal.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  17:25 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jun 28 2005
Publishers Face Universal Challenges
The Kelsey Group met last week with Publicar, Colombia's leading directory publisher, and was given a look at the results of recent user focus groups conducted in that country. The results were fascinating to us, because they were so similar to the results of similar focus groups conducted here in the United States.

What we discovered is the issues facing directory operators in Bogota are essentially the same ones faced in the United States, and to a large measure in Europe and other developed directory markets: How to keep the core directory relevant to a consuming public that is growing accustomed to finding information online.

Colombian consumers with Internet access interviewed in the focus groups expressed a similar tendency to use the Internet less than those without access, and are more likely to turn to search engines to find out information about local businesses.

While we must always note the limitations of focus groups, the consistency of the findings is striking to us. And the fact that these results are similar in what is perceived to be a developing market is all the more interesting.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  07:57 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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