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Apr 28 2005
So, You Think Economics are Complicated?

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.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  16:00 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Apr 28 2005
Would You Like Lettuce with Your Journal?

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.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  09:31 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Apr 5 2005
One Person Does Make a Difference

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.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  09:44 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 25 2005
An Outsider's View of Yellow Pages

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��t that apply to?
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  10:27 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 7 2005
"We're No. 1" 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.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  11:08 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 1 2005
How to Summarize a Meeting

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 ��04, 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."
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  15:52 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 23 2005
The Changing Ear of Radio

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.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  16:41 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 8 2005
Conferences: A Leading Industry Indicator?

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.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  12:55 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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