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Nov 29 2005
Not Your Father��s

This approach has some risks, but it is clearly a way for the sales force to gain advertising in a world where the consumer is way ahead of the SMB in adapting the concept of local search. Obviously the name describes the product, but they reinforce that strongly by introducing a new brand design that incorporates the walking fingers in the ��a�� of Yellow Pages. This had to have been an incredibly complex challenge for CEO Charles Stubbs and his team. Each of the three previous products had advertisers, and they all had to be integrated into the new Web site. In addition, the three Web businesses had relationships with suppliers and their own traffic deals. BellSouth and SBC management obviously had their opinions, which couldn��t be ignored. You can bet that sales management wanted to sure that their ox wasn��t gored. Perhaps most challenging of all are the back-office issues, which is the plumbing that the consumer and advertiser only cares about if there��s a problem. All in all it is amazing what the team has accomplished in the past year. Anyone going to is likely to have an opinion about how well they have done, but I would recommend you give this site time. It is not quite ready for prime time yet, but no one said that what is in essence a new product had to be perfect from day one. This business continues to change very quickly, and appears to be positioned to build on a very strong foundation.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  20:39 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Nov 21 2005
Buying Ink by the Barrel

Ten years ago, when The Kelsey Group more closely covered the newspaper industry, we conducted annual research among both dailies and weeklies to judge their overall opinion of or interest in electronic services. Every year daily newspapers said that their primary reason for introducing electronic services of all kinds was to ��remain the No.1 information source in their community.�� On the other hand, weekly newspapers told us that their primary objective was to ��create new revenues and profit sources.�� Since electronic services didn��t generate much in the way of sales, weeklies didn��t pay much attention and focused instead on enhancing their print products. I would say that this thinking is pervasive among all the traditional media. That is, the largest players see themselves as having a ��public trust,�� while the upstart smaller media outlets are focused on survival and taking market share of eyeballs, eardrums and greenbacks from their competitors. In the movie ��Good Night and Good Luck,�� Edward R. Murrow is willing to risk CBS�� largest advertiser in order to get a significant story. He saw this as an obligation that he had to his constituents. On the same page as the article questioning the future of newspapers is a piece about Google now being worth $400 a share, giving the company a total market capitalization approximately the size of California. A major reason that I read newspapers or watch TV news is because of context. Broadcasters and publishers have the opportunity to determine which stories are the most important and give them priority billing. They also control editorials. That incredible opportunity to influence people��s thinking is not likely to be replaced on the Internet no matter what electronic device we are using to access the news. As long as publishers don't lose the public trust, there will be readers and, therefore, advertisers. Will the business change? Yes, of course. Does anybody want to buy a newspaper? Absolutely.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  09:37 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Nov 7 2005
What's in a Name?

In the past, RHD has described itself as ��a leading Yellow Pages publisher and directional media company.�� That was the term used in the press release for both Dex and RHD. However, the current earnings announcement describes RHD as ��a leading Yellow Pages publisher and local online search company.�� Curious about this change, I called COO Peter McDonald to ask him if it was deliberate and if it reflected a new emphasis by the company on online services. Peter emphasized that revenues are growing in RHD's markets without Internet revenue included. But he said RHD execs changed the descriptor because they wanted to ��get the message out that we are in the online business.�� He said that ��local online search�� is more relevant to what RHD does, and it is something both advertisers and consumers clearly understand. McDonald did state emphatically that RHD expects to continue to grow the core business but that online clearly represented a future opportunity.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  20:02 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]

Nov 4 2005
Katrina and One Company

It is not surprising that the Yellow Pages industry has stepped up to the plate to help their employees and their customers. Dan told me that, ironically, the White Pages for New Orleans are at the printer. He said, "I wish we could use them to help fill in the holes in the levy." The Berry Co. and BellSouth are already working hard to find available options to assist their employees and the communities in which they live and serve the public.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  06:47 | permalink | comments [3] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 26 2005
A Senior Moment

In a separate item by David Carr, titled ��Why You Should Pay to Read This,�� the author suggests that paid content is in real danger because youth expect information to be free. They are willing to pay for the distribution vehicles �� cable, broadband Internet and cellphones �� but not for the stuff that comes through them. One of the conclusions that can be drawn from these two news items is that there will always be a market for print and other traditional media, no matter how cool the latest gadget (like videopods) may be. In addition to the nearly one-quarter of adults who are ��disconnected,�� there are many others who are only semi-connected. Secondly, Yellow Pages, whether print or electronic, has always been free to the user. Directory assistance may be in danger but not classified advertising that brings buyers and sellers together. Local search is most certainly going to have an impact on the Yellow Pages industry. But look for this media to outlast those that require payment for information.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  13:45 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 22 2005
Will an 'Information Service' Designation Lead to the Sale of YP Information Ser

The recent earnings' results from BellSouth, SBC and Verizon all show that their growth is coming primarily from high-speed Internet and wireless. Accordingly, we believe that the FCC's recent decision will enourage more investment in DSL by the RBOCs. Since all three RBOCs have historically high debt levels, now would be a good time to consider spinning off their Yellow Pages subsidiaries to generate cash to facilitate their investment objectives. Our view is that the Yellow Pages businesses would be worth more in the private equity market if they were broken up into bite-sized contiguous chunks. There certainly is no lack of interest in the Yellow Pages business as an investment vehicle. And the success of Dex Media and R.H. Donnelley in managing incumbent Yellow Pages publishers suggests that a well-managed sale will be hugely successful.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  07:05 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 19 2005
Rock Stars, Athletes and Yellow Pages Executives

The confidentiality inherent in this closed industry kept jealousy at bay, and it no doubt encouraged many executives who were successful to stay with their current employers. You have to wonder if the large sums of money made by a few Dex executives may encourage some telco executives to consider opportunities in top management positions at independent publishers. This in turn could cause more turnover and further consolidation at all levels. Utility publishers have long resented their independent competitors, not only because of the potential of lost market share, but also because of the opportunity the independent executives have to operate in a non-bureaucratic environment and the chance to make big money. While Dex is classified as an incumbent, private equity firms Carlyle Group and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe were able to generate significant returns for themselves and Dex top management. This subject is not likely to be discussed from the podiums at any of the industry conferences, but it will certainly be a hot topic in the halls.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  14:59 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Oct 10 2005
Did Verizon Demote SuperPages?

In the first quarter of 2001, Verizon Information Services rolled out SuperPages as the new brand identity for its print directory products. At the time, the concept of applying an Internet brand name to an offline directory was unusual, and in an April 2001 Advisory, Kelsey Report Senior Analyst Charles Laughlin lauded the decision as "a logical move in progressing toward a single platform-independent brand." However, we also pointed out that "the migration involves some risk. Products that share a brand are only as strong as their weakest link." In order to succeed, required significant marketing expenditures to create both a strong image and a relationship to Verizon. As it turns out, Verizon did not give the SuperPages brand the backing it needed and some said wasn't seen as the incumbent Yellow Pages. To remedy this, the corporation made the decision to focus on the corporate name and to re-emphasize Yellow Pages. The lack of support behind the SuperPages brand will most certainly have a negative impact on both the Internet Yellow Pages product and future related local search. It seems that the decision was made to back the profitable old horse instead of the promising young colt. "Branding and the Future of Search Marketing" is a super session at the upcoming Kelsey Group Drilling Down on Local conference that will be held next week in Santa Clara. It will be interesting to hear what this group will think of Verizon's decision.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  15:31 | permalink | comments [3] | trackbacks [0]

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