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Aug 19 2005
Black and Yellow and Read All Over
I find it interesting to see how other media portray the Yellow Pages., a product of The Lynchburg News & Advance, covered the planned introduction of Yellow Book into the Lynchburg area with the confusing headline, ��Competitors Seeing Yellow.�� If I weren��t in the industry, I��m not sure I would have read any further. It was a standard article with quotes from spokespeople from Yellow Book, Verizon Information Services and Data National��s Community PhoneBook. Community PhoneBook ��distributes directories in 12 states and often is informally referred to as the ��Red Book��.�� Everyone welcomed everybody into the marketplace, in other words, classic spin. The reporter found the owner of Graves Mill Storage who takes out a half-page ad in Verizon SuperPages. The storage company owner says that 70-75 percent of her business comes from Yellow Pages. She said she was glad to see a competitor enter the market because it will drive prices down. She didn��t mention Community PhoneBook, which distributes over 90,000 copies of its book to the Lynchburg area, already in the marketplace. What is new is that three paragraphs are devoted to the Yellow Book/Verizon lawsuit in which the summary is as neutral as the results of the suit. What was left out was any mention of local search. Print and online Yellow Pages are still seen as being unaffected by other media, at least in Lynchburg, VA.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  00:27 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Aug 18 2005
The Proof Is in the Pudding

I asked Gary Fascilla, Metro Directories CEO, to speak on the Leadership Panel at this year's Directory Driven Commerce conference in September. He accepted enthusiastically in part because of their recent success. Founded in 2001 after working at Valley and Pacific West, Metro Directories' revenues should exceed $20 million this year. Fascilla attributes his company's growth to Metro's Guaranteed Ad Program, which uses a call-tracking service managed by Standard Call. If an advertiser doesn't receive a predetermined minimum number of calls, it will receive a pro-rated refund. In a highly competitive market like Atlanta, a relatively small company needs to do something to differentiate itself among advertisers. Fascilla believes that Standard Call's measurement system provides the pudding. We believe that once established, an advertiser will show its loyalty by renewing. Call measurement is a powerful tool for an independent like Metro Directories.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  14:01 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Aug 15 2005
Does Meckler Know Something the Rest of Us Don't?

But you still have to ask if he senses a slowing down in the search business. When you run a business that has conferences (such as The Kelsey Group's events) long enough, you can feel the pulse of an industry. The buyer, Incisive Media, a British-based company that heretofore has been extremely successful in specializing in business information niches (not unlike Primedia could have been if it had had decent management), obviously believes in the future of this business even though it has no experience. "Search is considered by many to be the main driver behind the growth of online advertising spend throughout the world," the company's press release crowed. The picture on the front of today's New York Times Business Section is an old one showing Gerald Levin happily shaking Steve Case's hand after Warner paid too much for AOL. That was a merger. This is an asset sale. Still, it makes you wonder who got the better deal. It's not clear exactly what the multiple of revenues or earnings was, but $43 million in cash will let Mr. Meckler buy a lot of images. For the record, The Kelsey Group believes that the search business, in particular local search, is still in its infancy.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  17:15 | permalink | comments [3] | trackbacks [0]

Aug 15 2005
Still the Most Profitable Media Business Around

BAPCO showed stronger revenues in both the first and second quarters than it had in 2004. Verizon's earnings increased even as its revenues declined. As a result, Verizon's operating margins climbed from 45.9% to 47.3%. While SBC's margins declined, they remain the highest among major incumbent publishers. Year-to-date revenues for the big three have declined less than The Kelsey Group anticipated incumbents would fall for the year (-0.7% vs. -1.2%). We do not anticipate much change in the remainder of 2005. IYP/local search sales by these companies are gaining traction and the Bells are able to make price-ups stick. We might change our tune when and if we see a major decline in revenues, but that doesn't seem to be on the near-term horizon.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  10:43 | permalink | comments [5] | trackbacks [0]

Aug 12 2005
Got Fingers?

It is interesting that ��Let your fingers do the walking,�� which was introduced in 1964 by AT&T;��s relatively small Yellow Pages division, came in No. 16. That puts our tagline ahead of such notables as ��Please don��t squeeze the Charmin�� (No. 21), ��Look ma no cavities�� (No. 28), ��They��re gr-r-r-eat!�� (No. 40), and even ��This Bud��s for you�� (No. 52). This suggests that the Yellow Pages industry has an opportunity. Obviously, it is important to test our tagline to see what the image suggests to consumers and advertisers, but it works just as well in the online world as it does in the print world. We��d like to see the industry consider helping our sales force do its job by supporting the ROI story. There��s a good chance that our tagline can help.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  09:58 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 29 2005
The Hotel Business Center Is Really a Consumer Center

The Kelsey Group's overly simplistic model of the electronic world looks like this. Content can be information, advertising, video, etc.; the delivery of that content might be cable, DSL or wireless; and the device which is used for access could be a computer, a PDA or a cellphone, among others. It has been our view that this circle is only as strong as its weakest link and that always on, high-speed access is critical to the success of the electronic world. The fact that a Hyatt in Virginia, a Holiday Inn in Durham and an Ameri-Suites at RDU airport all offered Internet access in the guest rooms is not a surprise. That the service was free and high speed did get my attention. What blew me away was that there were computers in their business centers that allowed me to use this service at no cost. (As an added bonus, my cellphone worked clearly in all three hotels.) Being in Durham during an ACC basketball game is quite an experience. Everything everywhere was crowded. Using local search from the computer in the business -- make that consumer -- center allowed us to get around the crowds. See for yourself how fast this industry is changing at The Kelsey Group's conference on Drilling Down on Local: The Online/Offline Opportunity, April 18-20, in Santa Clara, California.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  19:27 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jul 25 2005
It's Time to Reconsider a Broadcast Advertising Campaign

I don't buy either of these two arguments. Marketing works and dollars spent are additive. In 1979, AT&T; decided that long-distance advertising should no longer be handled by each of the 21 individual operating companies. In a wildly unpopular move (ad managers throughout the Bell System saw their three-martini lunches and football tickets disappear), AT&T; brought all long-distance advertising into headquarters so that users all over the country would hear a single message as part of a coordinated marketing effort. As a result, long-distance revenues went up dramatically. Ken Clark, in a recent YP Talk piece, decried the fact that Yellow Pages was not mentioned in an article that discussed every other major media. I think we all agree that it is incredibly frustrating when people who are writing about the media leave Yellow Pages out. Too many people who should know better just don't think of the Yellow Pages as a medium. As Ken wrote, "Yellow Pages is currently a faceless media with brands that do little to stir anyone's passion. We don't have a pubic image that excites our users, the media and even potential advertisers." The YPA does an outstanding job with its public relations budget as exemplified by Neg Norton's memo today about feature articles in important vertical publications, but this is just not enough. The industry needs a broadcast advertising campaign, aimed primarily at the advertising community to support our sales people. Yellow Pages has a tremendous ROI story to tell both in print and electronic. Advertisers need to get this message not just from the person coming in selling an ad, but also from the broadcast media. Major obstacles to implementing an ad campaign include the need for a near-unanimous agreement by the major publishers to spend money; the sour taste left by the Jon Lovitz/Get An Idea fiasco; the lack of an existing advertising plan that people can buy off on; and the fact that the individual publishers each believe they can serve their own interests better than trade organizations can. Ken Clark showed how Lyle Wolf is advertising Yellow Pages in China. With all due respect to my friend Lyle, I can't think of anyone more associated with yellow than Lance Armstrong. Imagine if he were riding for the Yellow Pages team instead of the Discovery team! Stephanie Hobbs, vice president of marketing for the YPA, told me that they have approached the Lance Armstrong Foundation several times to enter into a partnership with the YPA, but to date they have been unresponsive. I'd settle for a walking fingers logo on his shirt, but it would be even better if Lance would tell the world that he uses Yellow Pages. I know this is an uphill battle, but let me make it clear that I am not suggesting that we do a consumer advertising campaign, but rather one aimed specifically at advertisers, the investment community and other media. Corporate budgets are being determined now. In fact, it may already be too late for 2006. But we have to start somewhere and I hope our industry leaders can convince their boards that there is tremendous upside with a coordinated advertising campaign.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  08:49 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]

Jul 21 2005
Hello! Yellow Pages Benefits Your Community

According to Amy Healy of the YPA, the public policy committee covered this topic in its Las Vegas meeting. She said that there are towns that have "do not deliver" proposals pending, but they stemmed from an effort to reduce litter. "This is the first one to our knowledge that stems from an unsolicited advertising perspective," according to Ms. Healy. Do not call and do not spam lists are entirely different because they serve an infinite universe. An advertiser who buys a quarter-page ad in a local directory is expecting to reach the people in the community. He is half the equation of bringing buyers and sellers together. This is not a solicitation like you'd receive from a telemarketer, a spammer or even a direct marketer. Yellow Pages serves merchants who are the heart of the business community and consumers with businesses that are looking for the valuable products and services they sell. We urge the industry to fight this camel's nose that has snuck under the tent.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  John Kelsey at  12:29 | permalink | comments [3] | trackbacks [0]

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