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Sep 2 2005
Local Search in China - Almost Dumbfounding
Loren Baker posted some information on the search engine competition going on in China. He cited a survey which showed that Inc. had boosted its market share in Beijing by 10.8 percentage points to 52 percent. Google share was at 33 percent.

Six months ago, Google held the largest market share in the three cities covered by the survey. The survey showed Baidu has a 43.9 percent market share in Shanghai compared to 38.2 percent for Google. In Guangzhou, Google��s market share was 28.7 percent while Baidu��s was 48 percent. Yahoo! held only a 3.7 percent market share overall, with smaller Chinese rivals and Sina Corp. claiming a 4.6 percent and 4 percent share, respectively. Google has launched a beta of Google local with business listings for 100 cities and maps for 77 cities. I am staggered by the coverage and pace at which Google is aggressively building out Google local in China. Having visited China about a year ago, I was struck by just how vast the country is. What Google is doing in China makes what it's accomplished the U.S. look easy - and all of us who follow local know that it is no layup.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  18:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Sep 1 2005
The 'Once' 900-Pound Gorilla Is Sold
For the better part of 15 years, TMP was the 900-pound gorilla of the national Yellow Pages market. Some time in the late 1980s with Andy McKelvey at the helm, TMP began an aggressive CMR acquisition roll-up strategy.

By the mid 1990s, TMP had amassed as much as 40% of the national Yellow Pages market. About the same time, TMP, which had also been in the recruitment advertising business, happened upon the notion of online recruitment advertising. was formed and as they say ��the rest was history,�� as TMP went public in the middle of the dot-com bubble. TMP directory services continued to push and prod Yellow Pages publishers with their considerable market power. Earlier this week, the $500 million directory services business was sold for a net price of $52 million dollars �� or 0.1 times revenue. Assuming the business was clearing a 5 percent profit or $25 million, the company was sold for 2 times EBITDA - a rather pultry sum for a 900 -ound gorilla.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  23:44 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Aug 31 2005
Another Nail in the Local Exchange Coffin
As if the landline business hadn��t suffered enough with wireless carriers taking share for domestic usage and VoIP taking share for international calling, now comes a slew of cheap international long distance calling plans from the cellular operators. Verizon and Sprint are offering plans at $4.00 per month for highly discounted international long-distance rates.

Cheap international long distance has been a key driver of VoIP penetration. Now one has to ask "Why should I have anything other than a cell number?�� Whatever consumers or small businesses choose �� landline, cell or VoIP - those companies out there that supply basic and enhanced listings to the offline and online Yellow Pages and local search publishers must be feeling numb from the velocity and pace at which their once stable and reliable source of information has been thrown into flux. And what about caller ID �� that great innovation that came out of SS7 switches that could display the area code and phone number of an inbound call. In the not too distant future when we move from the Bay Area to America��s heartland, we��ll take our four, 415 area code, cellphones with us. Then when we ring up the local plumber��s wife in Iowa she��ll have to decide if a call from area code 415 is worth taking. After all, if pay per call platforms are really the new business model, she and her husband will be paying for each call.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  08:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Aug 19 2005
Newspapers, YP Publishers Watch in Envy as eBay Ups Fees
Interesting to read that in a period of time when companies of different shapes and sizes are finding ways to lower prices - Delta Airlines, SBC Internet, Apple iPod, Google search appliance, SF Chronicle classifieds - eBay is going the other direction - raising prices.

Yesterday eBay announced that they would be raising the prices on a number of their services. For instance, the monthly fee for an eBay Store will increase 60 percent from $9.95 to $15.95 per month or $72 more per year per store. And transaction fees for transactions up to $25.00 will increase over 50 percent from 5.25 percent to 8 percent. Red-faced newspaper publishers must be reading these announcements with considerable envy as they battle day in and day out to squeeze in every ounce of classified revenue they possibly can. Directory publishers too must be reading with similar envy as they fight tooth and nail to hold customers to rate cards. eBay's pricing opportunities make even more clear that performance matters most - something that directory publishers believe about their value-proposition but are only now beginning to make absolutely clear to their advertisers. In time, new value propositions that offer advertisers pay-per-click and/or pay-per-call options will certainly position directory publishers to push back at advertisers with performance numbers that demonstrate the true ROI for advertisers. Perhaps in 18 months, we'll be reading about how directory publishers too are raising prices once again.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  07:48 | permalink | comments [4] | trackbacks [0]

Aug 11 2005
eBay Retreats
Couple weeks ago I wrote about the perceived clout that eBay had with their sellers when they announced a number of price increases. What's transpired since is even more interesting than eBay's attempt to raise prices. Instead of "bitching and moaning" to themselves, eBay sellers have used the power of the network - in this case the Internet - to stand up and push back.

The very thing that makes eBay the success that it is today - a network of willing buyers and sellers - is what stops them in their tracks not two weeks later. Imagine where the print Yellow Pages would be today if 10 years ago Yellow Page advertisers could marshall the voice and cry of hundreds of advertisers to push back on the rate increases being levied by Yellow Pages publishers.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  08:53 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 14 2005
Let the User Beware
Earlier this week a jury awarded $1.6 million to a couple in Oregon that claimed that they found a rather unscrupulous plastic surgeon in their local Yellow Pages. Odd, I thought there was something about "buyer beware" that applied to all transactions between buyers and sellers.

You begin to wonder if the couple - and the awarding jury - are watching too many of those makeover shows on television. We're not talking about selecting a dry cleaner to press some clothes or picking a dentist who is into to the latest teeth- whitening fad. We're talking about serious surgery that requires considerable skill and experience. Using the Yellow Pages or any local online information service is not some new version of "pin the tail on the donkey" - it is serious business and requires the buyer to conduct sufficient research and due dilligence beyond the claims listed in a print YP ad or on a website. How about asking a friend or two - or imagine this - asking for references? Those jurors now ought to use the Yellow Pages or a local search engine to find a good psychiatrist to get their heads examined . . . but beware . . . perhaps they'll call someone and end up with nothing but a "shrink".
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  09:47 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 11 2005
Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicking off tomorrow in Las Vegas, Nevada we are witnessing one more example of the convergence of technology, information and entertainment.

With the exit of Comdex from the scene, CES is now the place that information and entertainment device manufacturers can showcase their "coming attractions." You know convergence is happening when Ed Whitacre - not perceived as the most public of corporate chairman - shows up on the agenda as "Industry Insider." Couple Whitacre's presentation with a slew of public annoucements from SBC about bundles of communciations, Internet and entertainment services, it is obvious SBC is working hard to communicate to Wall Street and the industry in general that it is much more than the provider of the "last mile" of copper wire. It's no wonder SBC wants to shed its old skin - its stock price advanced a mere 3 percent during 2004 against over 9 percent for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and over 55 percent for Yahoo!. The question of where SBC is headed is clear, the path SBC takes and the way it maneuvers around the potholes along the way will determine whether SBC can re-cast itself as a major player in the coverged world or will it be simply another case of a former monopoly unable to shed its true skin.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  11:54 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jun 16 2005
Unlimited DA
Metro One - the wireless provider that touts flat fees and unlimited calling without the hassle of contracts or service plans - announced it would now be offering unlimited DA calls.

For $2.00 per month, Metro One subscribers can have unlimited DA calls in their local area. Instead of the direct-connect option, however, subscribers will have the listing they are seeking sent to their phone in the form of an SMS message. I think this is a great option, since there are some times that I have re-dialed 411 for the same number because I was unable to write down the number while I was being direct connected. By having it messaged to me, I can avoid the hassle of re-dialing and getting hit with yet another $1.25 DA charge. Now if only I could get out of my long-term agreement with my current wireless service provider.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Neal Polachek at  14:26 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]

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