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January 6, 2005

The Kelsey Group Looks Back at 2004 and Releases Predictions for 2005 for Global Yellow Pages Industry

Princeton, NJ (January 6, 2005) -- The Kelsey Group, the leading provider of strategic research and analysis, data and competitive metrics on Yellow Pages, electronic directories, small-business advertising and local search, has identified five key global Yellow Pages developments in 2004, a year in which the industry continued to undergo significant infrastructure evolution.

  • IPO fever continued as Dex Media, PagesJaunes and Findexa joined the ranks of listed companies.
  • Existing businesses changed hands. Verizon Corp. sold its Hawaiian assets, including directories; VNU disposed of its far-flung Yellow Pages business, SBC dispensed of its share of DonTech and White was sold to the newspaper division of Hearst.
  • Interactive Yellow Pages made a comeback. Verizon, Findexa, Yell and others came out with new or modified Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) products that emulate search in an effort to head off impact from local search. BellSouth and SBC acquired Sensis went deep.
  • Industry cooperation led to acceptance of syndicated research. Publishers and trade associations pulled together to develop a real plan to implement syndicated usage.
  • Incumbents retreated from expansion markets. Several companies discontinued efforts to expand outside their territory, especially incumbents used to defending, not attacking, markets.

“The key question is what will separate the publishers that thrive from those that merely survive, or even fade away,” said Charles Laughlin, program director for The Kelsey Report® and editor of The Kelsey Group’s Local Media Journal™. “Execution is more important than ever before.”

Laughlin expects several important developments in 2005.

  • At least one more major phone company will offer its directory division for sale. Already, Telstra in Australia has hinted it will spin off its highly regarded Sensis division. The Kelsey Group also expects to see at least one U.S. telecom takes steps toward selling its directory unit.
  • The shakeout in the U.S. competitive directory publishing industry will accelerate, as third and fourth players in some markets will drop out as advertisers consolidate their spending with the top one or two publishers.
  • A clear distinction between customer-driven and product-driven companies will emerge, as the more progressive organizations recognize that longevity in directories requires a new attitude toward the customer.
  • More cross-media deals among newspaper and classifieds and Yellow Pages will occur, as the two media seek to broaden their base of content as well as customers.
  • Competition between search engines and directory publishers will increase, as search engines accelerate efforts to define themselves as a medium for SMEs to reach local customers. While directories strive to emulate search engines, they will leverage their own strengths in local content and sales coverage.

About The Kelsey Group
The Kelsey Group is the leading provider of strategic research and analysis, data and competitive metrics on Yellow Pages, electronic directories, small-business advertising and local search. Beginning in 1986, the company has built a reputation as the leading analyst firm covering the directory publishing community, providing advisory (The Kelsey Report® and Interactive Local Media), publishing (Global Yellow Pages™ and Local Media Journal™), consulting (more than 300 individual assignments) and conference services (60 events).

For more information contact:

Eileen Pacheco
(781) 556-1026
[email protected]

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