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Feb 16 2005
Private Equities Get ��Amarillas�� Fever
I recently noticed a press release on the merger of two relatively obscure publishers of Spanish-language Yellow Pages directories. The acquiring party is Hispanic Yellow Pages of America, backed by the private equity fund called Hispania Capital Partners LLC. The fund��s purpose is to build a Spanish-language directories business, and one of its chief backers is Verizon Communications. Other similar financial players have emerged to pursue this niche.

Do we think they will be successful? Yes, but only to a point. Too many of those supporting this business model read too much into the demographic data. Yes, a larger share of Americans will be of Hispanic origin in the coming years. This doesn��t automatically translate into a parallel Yellow Pages universe conducted in Spanish.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:31 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 8 2005
Is Sensis the Next One on the Block?
A report in Australia��s The Age newspaper citing unnamed sources within the Australian government says the spin-off of Sensis Pty. Ltd. by its parent company Telstra is in the works. The story was posted on on Feb. 8.

Within the same news cycle, Telstra issued this brief statement in response to The Age story:

��With respect to the speculation in today��s Age newspaper in relation to Sensis Pty. Ltd., the Telstra Board continuously monitors and reviews the company��s businesses. However, the Telstra Board has taken no decision to sell Sensis Pty. Limited.��

Ben Bradlee, the legendary former editor of the Washington Post, might have called this statement a ��non-denial denial.��

According to The Age, the public float is expected to take place ahead of the government��s auction of its remaining 51.8 percent stake in Telstra. The story suggests Sensis would command in the range of A$10 billion (about US$7.5 billion), which would amount to roughly 15 times 2004 EBIT, a rich multiple to be sure, but we would expect the company to go for a premium valuation.

We have long seen Sensis as one of the top operators in the global directional media industry. This is particularly so because of its efforts over the past few years, under recently departed CEO Andrew Day, to build a diverse product mix designed for a future that is not reliant on print revenues, and after improving internal processes and customers satisfaction levels to enable the company to execute on a broader media strategy.

What do you think? Is Sensis worth such a high multiple? How will the float change the direction of the company? And what, if any, reverberations will there be around the industry if The Age has this story right?

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:30 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 2 2005
Competition Picks Up Steam in the UK
Britain��s Guardian newspaper reported today that British Telecom plans to spend up to 10 million pounds �� about US$18 million �� promoting its BT Phone Book product this year.

This represents a significant upping of the ante by BT, which spent 3 million pounds last year, as it completed the full rollout of 171 combination White Pages and classified directories. BT, which once owned the market leader Yell Group, now has made it clear that it intends to snatch away market leadership from its former subsidiary.

This seems a tall order given BT has perhaps a 10 percent market share today, and that Yell��s Yellow Pages is a ubiquitous, well-managed brand in the UK. However, BT is also a powerful brand, and the company doesn��t lack for resources. We think ambitions of parity are at least some part bravado, but a sufficient commitment of resources and solid execution could conceivably result in a significant share shift.

Adding to this ratcheting up of the competitive intensity level in Britain is the steady emergence of Trinity Mirror. The regional newspaper chain successfully launched a classifieds directory in Edinburgh, Scotland, last year, and is trying to repeat its success in Glasgow, a more challenging market. Now the UK has an apparent fourth major directories player, making it one of the most competitive markets in Europe.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:18 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 2 2005
My Breakfast with Condron
Last week, I sat down for a breakfast interview in London with Yell Group CEO John Condron at the Connaught Hotel, a power breakfaster��s power breakfast spot.

Over his porridge, Condron talked about the state of the business today, and what makes his company tick. A few of his comments would make for good motivational posters (if such a thing as a droll motivational poster actually existed) in the conference room at any directory publisher around the globe:
��If you hire mercenaries, you get a mercenary organization.��

��This is a simple business made complicated by people who really don��t understand the basics.��

Not once did he use the word ��paradigm.��

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:08 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 2 2005
Find YP��s eRates and Data to Compete with YPA
Recently, start-up Find YP launched a competitive product to the Yellow Pages Association��s (YPA) IRIS Rates & Data product called eRates and Data.

eRates and Data is a Web-based database that provides the same data as YPA��s product as well as color maps of directory distribution areas, full lists of headings available in each directory, CPM calculations for each ad type, as well as other general demographic data by market. Another key difference is that electronic publishers can participate to provide data on their geo-targeted ads and keyword pricing for local search products.

For smaller publishers, Find YP seems to offer a chance to participate in a rates and data product that is not cost prohibitive -- as some view the YPA��s offering. Moreover, it gives those same smaller publishers exposure to the CMR community and thus national ad dollars; hence, the backing of the product by the Association of Directory Publishers (ADP). Also, from an ease of use standpoint, Find YP��s Web-based concept seems like a winner in theory. Currently YPA requires members to purchase CD-ROMs or monthly comma-delimited file uploads.

While the product is likely to gain traction in the independent publisher community, it is difficult to say if larger publishers will change the way they provide data to the industry or if they��d be willing to participate in both products. If CMRs use both products, then we know that the larger publishers probably would participate.

Find YP president is Phil Wojcik. Could this be the same Phil Wojcik that was the former Webmaster of the YPA?

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Bobbi Loy Luster at  11:07 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 2 2005
The Marshall Leaves Town
We learned earlier today that Pat Marshall has departed Verizon Information Services. Few people in the directory business have as much experience in the application of new technology as Pat does. Pat��s been on the leading edge of most new technology movements at traditional Yellow Pages publishers.

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.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  11:07 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Feb 2 2005
Chinese YP Market Gets Increasingly Competitive
While BT makes a full court press on Yell's Yellow Pages business in the U.K., 5,000 miles east China Netcom plans to enter the southern China Yellow Pages market.

The whole Yellow Pages market in China is estimated by China Unicom to be worth 4 billon yuan (US$480 million).

China Netcom plans to launch a new China Netcom Yellow Pages in 2005 to compete against "incumbent" publisher China Telecom. What is remarkable is that more Yellow Pages revenue is generated in Northern California than throughout China - with its 1.6 billion inhabitants. One cannot help but wonder what the migration path from print to online Yellow Pages will look like in China as industrial development continues at a rapid pace. Will the pace of industrial development be so fast that it is impossible for the print Yellow Pages model to stay ahead of the market or will online and wireless Yellow Pages be real pony to ride?

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  11:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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