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Nov 1 2005
PagesJaunes Continues Growth
The French directory publisher PagesJaunes issued its third-quarter and year-to-date figures today. The highlights include a 3.1 percent print growth rate in France through the first nine months of 2005 and a 13.5 percent online growth rate for the same period. Today, online revenues make up 30 percent of the company��s top line in France, its largest market. We will cover PagesJaunes�� results in greater detail in next week��s Local Media Journal. To go to the company's corporate site, click here.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:40 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 26 2005
Independents on Track to Parity: ADP Leader
Here at the Association of Directory Publishers conference in Huntington Beach, CA, the mood seems upbeat and the independent publishers in attendance see blue skies ahead for their businesses, which offer competitive Yellow Pages directories, primarily in the United States. Jim Hail, the ADP's chairman, set this tone with an address built on the theme of "strength" -- in particular, the independent publisher segment's strength within the directory industry. Referring to a pledge made by previous chair Ken Brock to reach revenue parity with incumbents by 2010, Hail insisted the objective remains on track. His point was that if independents grow at the current 15.4 percent pace (using ADP's revenue estimates), they will more than double their share in five years, which would bring them to, or near to, parity with incumbents.

My question is,why is parity so important?

I wonder whether independent publishers are better offer remaining the smaller of the two U.S. industry segments. In his remarks, Hail used underdog references, portraying independent publishers as Rocky Balboa to the incumbents' Apollo Creed (he also compared incumbents to "lumbering dinosaurs").

Being an underdog is a motivational gift from above, not to mention a powerful unifying force. Once they achieve parity, what's the next goal? And if independent publishers surpass the incumbents in share of revenue, what meaningful distinction would then exist between the two categories? How can you position yourself as an underdog when you are just as tall and strong as the "bully" across the table.

We think parity is possible but not a given. If independents continue to outgrow incumbents indefinitely, it becomes a question of how quickly they reach parity. However, we question whether any publisher based largely in print will be generating positive organic growth beyond 2010; and sooner or later expansion reaches a point of diminishing returns. So it is quite possible that share levels could stabilize at some point in the future. Will independents reach parity before this happens? Maybe, but I'm not sure why it matters.

Ultimately, we see the parity goal mostly as a rallying cry for independent publishers to keep working, keep innovating, keep expanding and keep growing. Achieving the parity goal should not be as important as the true measures of success -- sustainable growth and improving margins. Parity is about bragging rights. Business is about making money.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  13:50 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 26 2005
More Consolidation in Hispanic Market
Ran into Jonathan Blue of Cobalt Publishing at the ADP conference last week. He pointed out that his company, which publishes Spanish-language directories under the Enlace (Spanish for Link) brand, has moved into its largest market to date by acquiring Miami En Sus Manos and Broward-Palm Beach En Sus Manos. Cobalt has built a niche Hispanic publishing business by focusing on midsize markets with fast-growing Hispanic populations. This acquisition is a big step for Cobalt, which has so far avoided big markets. The new acquisitions have combined distribution of 250,000. TKG's view of the Hispanic publishing market is that it is a good opportunity for a limited number of players. Cobalt has moved aggressively to own the markets it operates in, and its move into Miami through acquisition (rather than launching a me-too product) is consistent with its approach, even if the market size would appear to be a diversion from its game plan.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  13:25 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 14 2005
YBR Group Buys TDC, Changes Name
Yellow Brick Road (YBR), the European directories holding company, has come out on top in bidding for Denmark's TDC Directories, the latest publisher to split off from a parent telecommunications company. The purchase price was 650 million euros.

YBR, itself newly acquired by Australia's Macquarie Bank, has changed its name to European Directories SA.

The Kelsey Group will provide some background and analysis on this deal in the next edition of Local Media Journal. In short, YBR and Eniro (following its purchase of Norway's Findexa) are now lined up as the two main competitors in the Nordic region.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:31 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 14 2005
Income Trust Under Fire in Canada
Speaking at a recent "investor day" event in Canada, Yellow Pages Group CEO Marc Tellier urged the national government to go easy on the income trust model, which has become a popular tax-advantaged ownership structure in Canada. Tellier is clearly concerned that the government, which is making noise that the trusts cost the treasury, will kill (or at least injure) a goose that has laid golden eggs for investors, including those in YPG. Here is a link to the story.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:26 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 14 2005
Article Looks at Minibook Battle in Bay Area
Interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how some advertisers and competitors are responding to the growth of companion books. The article suggests SBC's use of companions as a competitive weapon against its rival Valley Yellow Pages may be working but not without collateral damage. Some advertisers, it says, resent the introduction of another product they feel they can't afford not to buy.

The companion issue is becoming a big one, at least in the U.S. market, as incumbent publishers roll them out aggressively as a direct challenge to independents. Here is the link.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:22 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 14 2005
The Debate: Ads on Covers
At the recent Directory Driven Commerce conference, Ezana Raswork of Canada's Yellow Pages Group gave a presentation detailing how YPG has phased out the inclusion of paid advertising on its directories' front covers. Part of the logic is that the front cover is valuable real estate for promoting the directory brand (not the brand of a local cosmetic surgeon) as well as usage of the directory itself.

We plan to explore this issue in more depth in upcoming TKG coverage. We are curious, in the meantime, what your views are on the topic. Are front cover ads an abomination, or is this a silly fuss over "branding" a commodity product, so why not take the revenue? Submit your comments to let us know what you think.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:10 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 14 2005
Eniro Sweeping Away Noncore Assets
Swedish publisher Eniro has been very consistent in pursuing its strategy of shedding assets in small, emerging Eastern European markets so management can focus on making the company the biggest and best publisher in the Nordic markets. To this end, the company recently sold off its Russian operation to a local investor for 5 million euros.

The sale price indicates the problem Eniro faced. Management was spread thin trying to stay on top of operations in markets with revenues of only a few million euros with little hope the operations would gain any real scale anytime soon.

In the meantime, Eniro faced an eroding core product in Sweden, looming competition from search engines and a brutal battle in Finland with its chief rival there. So no more Latvia, Estonia, Russia and the like. Now Eniro is doing deals like its recent acquisition of Findexa, which is right in the company's strategic wheelhouse.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:02 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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