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Sep 21 2005
RHD Reported in Pursuit of Dex
The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that RH Donnelley is in talks to acquire Dex Media, an acquisition that would propel RHD into the third position in the US directories market, behind SBC and Verizon, ahead of BellSouth and YellowBook.

The Kelsey Report will issue an Advisory that explores the possibilities this deal represents, including the broader implications for the Yellow Pages industry. It is important to note that the deal is far from a certainty, based on the reporting out today. Dex Media CEO George Burnett will speak at a Goldman Sachs investor conference this afternoon, and we will listen in to hear what he has to say.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  16:41 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 19 2005
Yellow Pages Arbitrage?
Yellow Book USA announced another acquisition this week, purchasing two directories from User-Friendly Phone Book LLC, which is itself a company that has been actively pursuing acquisitions in the U.S. independent sector.

The two properties involved are the Steel Valley and Ohio Valley directories, which have combined distribution of 225,000. What is interesting about this deal is that User-Friendly had acquired these books (and two others) only a few months ago from Champion Directories, a small Ohio-based independent.

We do not know the values of the two deals, so we have no way of knowing if User-Friendly made or lost money here (our guess is they made money). The quick flip by User-Friendly suggests it is either engaging in arbitrage Yellow Pages style, or perhaps it simply didn't see these two directories fitting into its long-range plans and sold them to the most logical buyer on the market today.

The deals certainly underscore the observation that deal flow in the U.S. independent sector is constrained only by the availability of willing sellers and properties the consolidators are interested in buying. So far, the supply of neither appears to have been exhausted.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:05 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 19 2005
PE Group Buys Yellow Brick Road
Also this week, a group of private equity buyers acquired Yellow Brick Road, the European directory holding company, from its existing PE owners, paying them 1.8 billion euros, more than four times the cash investment of current owners Veronis Suhler and 3i Group. The buyers are led by the Australian investment fund Macquarie Capital Alliance Group. The healthy returns keep coming for those investing in old-line Yellow Pages companies. YBR includes the companies Fonecta, Telefoongids Media and Mediatel, acquired over a two-year period by 3i and Veronis. The companies were rolled up into Yellow Brick Road last year.

TKG will provide more coverage of this deal and the Yell acquisition of TransWestern Publishing in an upcoming Advisory and in this week's Local Media Journal.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:05 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 11 2005
Google and Yell Group
I saw this item on, which reports that Google may be pursuing an acquisition of Yell Group, the UK-based company that operates Yell in the UK and Yellow Book in the US.

We do not yet know whether this is substantive or pure speculation that has taken on a life of its own. We hope to find out soon enough. What adds some weight to the rumor is Google's existing relationship with Yell in the UK.

What we do know is that a deal like this makes sense, at least on paper. Google has a powerful online brand, vast organic traffic and the ability to rapidly deploy new technologies. Yell Group, solves the "last mile" problem for search engines moving into local. Yellow Book is uniquely attractive because of its wide geographic coverage, and Yell is ubiquitous in the UK.

So theoretically, this makes sense. Whether it will happen remains to be seen.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  13:19 | permalink | comments [4] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 2 2005
RHD Sees the Light on Cover Ads
We noted with interest on RHD's latest earnings call that it has removed cover ads from its SBC-branded directories in Illinois, the logic being that cover ads make it harder for the publisher to distinguish its brand from its competitors. We think this is a smart decision, and one others should take heed of.

Too many books have taken on an indistinguishable appearance as they cave into the temptation of premium revenue and fail to protect their identity as a directory brand. The cover is where publishers advertise themselves. There is plenty of space elsewhere in the book for customers to promote their wares. Usage is king, and cover ads are not beneficial to usage. Hats off to RHD for making this decision, which may product a short-term revenue hit, but will pay off over the long haul.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  00:51 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 1 2005
Yellow Pages Scams Alive and Well
About a decade ago, I wrote a lengthy article for Link magazine (anyone remember Link magazine?) about the efforts of the U.S. Postal Service and others to crack down on bogus Yellow Pages scams, which exploit the inattention of busy small-business people to sell them advertising in worthless directories and then aggressively collect the debts. These schemes appear to be alive and well.

I came across an article in a Long Beach, California, newspaper that details a classic bogus YP scam by Yellow Pages Inc. of Anaheim, California. The company sends SMEs a check for US$3, the endorsement of which is a contract to purchase advertising with a price tag of US$180.00. Anyone who doesn't pay immediately is contacted by an aggressive bill collector, according to the newspaper article.

These schemes are brilliant in their simplicity and in their exploitation of the generic nature of the Yellow Pages brand. It also shines a light on this industry's inability to build strong individual brand identities, which one would think would make these scams less effective.

We do not wish Yellow Pages Inc. well. It is hard, however, not to marvel at how enduring and successful this scam has been, despite a lot of bad publicity, aggressive law enforcement efforts and the efforts of industry organizations and individual publishers to raise public awareness.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  23:56 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 1 2005
YPC Goes with SBC Agency
AdWeek reports this week that has selected SBC's longtime advertising agency GSD&M to handle the advertising account for, the company jointly owned by SBC and BellSouth. The magazine estimates the size of the account at US$4 million. This news comes on the heels of the redesign of the site, which serves as something of a preview of what the upcoming combined SBC, BellSouth and YPC online directory will look like. That launch is expected later this year.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:08 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 1 2005
BellSouth Announces It Has Hit 20M Monthly Searches
BellSouth put out a press release today quoting BAPCO CEO Ike Harris announcing that the company's IYP site has reached 20 million monthly searches. The press release also claims that search traffic has grown by 18 percent from 2004 to 2005.

You can read the full press release here.

The announcement seems to be part of a wave of activity by and its owners, BellSouth and SBC, as they move toward the launch of the new site, expected later this year. There seems to be a sense of urgency to establish YPC and its owners' online bona fides. As noted in an earlier post, YPC has launched an updated site, and has given SBC's ad agency, GSD&M, the account for an estimated US$4 million ad campaign to help put YPC on the map.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:07 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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