Monthly Archives: May 2011

People – April/May

It’s been another active month for announcements about people in
the Yellow Pages industry.  This regular monthly blog sponsored Hawthorne Executive Search  is all about people in the Yellow Pages industry. If you have news you want to share about someone that is involved in the Yellow Pages industry (including retirees) that we should all know about, drop us a line and tell us how they are doing. Send your submissions to ken@yptalk.com.

Ken Brock:

Ken Brock the founder and President of Names and Numbers has received, The Spirit of Pittsburg award from the Pittsburg, KS Area Chamber of Commerce during their annual meeting which was held Thursday, May 26th.

The Spirit of Pittsburg award is the highest honor bestowed by the association and recognizes an outstanding community member, who through his or her
service, volunteerism and personal sacrifice has made Pittsburg a better place
to live, expecting nothing in return. This outstanding citizen reflects a steady, positive influence on others in daily life.

The award was presented to Mr. Brock by the evening’s special guest, Kansas Governor, Sam Brownback.  During his presentation of the award, Governor Brownback spoke of a local Pittsburg, Kansas doctor, who was assisting victims of the recent Joplin, Missouri tornado. According to Brownback, the doctor stated, God put me in Joplin because I had the skill set to help out. Using the statement as a segue, the governor said, “he believed God put Ken Brock in Pittsburg, not to receive an award as the 2011 Spirit of Pittsburg but because of his skill set and commitment to the city.”

Upon accepting the award Brock noted that “I have made a commitment to the Pittsburg community since moving Names and Numbers to Pittsburg years ago. My wife Debbie and I travel a lot in our work. We travel to a lot of cool places. As soon as we arrive at these nice facilities, at these nice towns, it’s about three or four days before I say, Debbie, I’m home sick. I’m ready to go home now. No matter where I’ve been, I always look forward to getting back to Pittsburg.”

Richard Hanna

Dex One Corporation announced the addition of Richard J. Hanna, as executive vice president of sales and marketing, effective immediately.  Hanna will be responsible for all sales and marketing functions, leading the company’s transition from a product-centric to a customer-centric organization. He will also be tasked with shifting the sales force from a solo-selling model to a team-based approach to increase customer contact frequency and support the delivery of a wider portfolio of digital solutions. Hanna will be based at Dex One headquarters in Cary and report to the company’s CEO Alfred Mockett.

Hanna has held a variety of senior leadership positions at several technology and telecommunications companies, including AT&T, Cidera, MCI, MFS-Intelenet, Motive and Teligent.

“To compete in today’s marketplace we must build a world-class, 21st century sales force that is professionally trained and armed with the latest tools and technology. Rick has a wealth of experience assembling high-performance sales teams and he will ensure this gets done at Dex One,” said Mockett. “Rick has a solid track record of leading the sales and marketing functions in the hyper-competitive technology and telecom sectors; he understands what it takes to win in the marketplace and provide outstanding service and support to customers.”

As president of the small and medium business division at MCI, Hanna guided a $1.5 billion operation with 3,500 employees. He led the restructuring of the field and telemarketing sales efforts, resulting in a rapid double-digit improvement in sales and customer retention.

As president and CEO at MFS-Intelenet, he launched the nation’s first competitive local exchange carrier, growing the company at an annual rate in excess of 40 percent. The company had operations in 45 major markets, with more than 2,000 employees.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the sales transformation at Dex One. This is something I have successfully tackled several times throughout my career and understand the energy and effort required to reach the desired outcome,” said Hanna. “Dex One is at a pivotal time in its history and transformation is essential in order to return to growth.”

Early in his career, Hanna held a variety of management positions in sales and marketing in the telecom industry.  Hanna is a 1977 graduate of the University of
Central Connecticut.

Jim Hail:

The Association of Directory Publishers bestowed its highest distinction on Jim Hail, president and co-owner of Hagadone Directories, Inc. at the group’s recent annual conference.

Presentation of The Wil Lewis Award to Hail took place at the Gold Book Dinner and Awards Ceremony concluding ADP’s annual convention. The award recognizes outstanding lifetime contributions to the directory publishing industry and to the effectiveness of the Association. The Wil Lewis Award is named in honor of the late Wilbur Lewis, founder of White Directory Publishers and a three-time past ADP chairman.

“I am honored and humbled to be only the 11th recipient of The Wil Lewis Award,” Hail said. “It is, I believe, imperative for small directory companies like HDI to have a voice and influence in national industry issues.”

Hail founded HDI in 1987 and is twice past chairman of the board of the Association of Directory Publishers.

“What makes The Wil Lewis Award so prestigious is that it is bestowed not annually, but rather only when a nominee exceeds the lofty threshold set by Wil Lewis himself in the judgment of a minimum of 75 percent of the sitting Directors of the Association,” said Larry Angove, ADP president and chief executive officer.

In presenting the award to Hail together with Rick Lewis, former president and CEO of White Directory Publishers and son of Wilbur Lewis, Angove shared comments of longtime ADP leaders who nominated Hail for consideration.

One stated, “I don’t know where to start when it comes to Jim. He has put his heart and soul into ADP. As chairman of the board, publisher, mentor and teacher, I honestly cannot think of a better choice to receive The Wil Lewis Award.”

Hail is a former newspaper editor and publisher and was publisher of the Coeur d’Alene Press and president of the Hagadone North Idaho Newspaper Group prior to founding HDI. Today HDI publishes regional telephone directories in Idaho, Washington, Montana, Oregon and California.

Steve Blondy

Dex One Corporation has also  announced it has commenced a nationwide search for a new chief financial officer to fill the vacancy created by the pending
departure of current CFO Steven Blondy, 51, who will step down on or before
July 31, 2011.

“We thank Steve for his valuable service to Dex One and its predecessor company R.H. Donnelley. Since joining the company in 2002, Steve has played an important role in expanding operations and improving the company’s cost structure,” said Dex One Chief Executive Officer Alfred Mockett. “His contributions are wide-ranging and we wish him well going forward.”

The separation was mutually agreed upon by the company and Blondy, who will help ensure an orderly transition and receive benefits as outlined in his employment agreement.   A prominent search firm is engaged and is in the process of identifying and evaluating candidates.

Stéphane Marceau

Yellow Page Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Stéphane Marceau, has left the company to pursue other career Interests. His resignation is effective immediately.

“Stéphane came to Yellow Media to lead the digital transformation including overseeing the development and overall marketing of digital and mobile products for the Company’s various brands.  Now, with this digital transformation well under way, we are grateful for his contribution and respect his decision,” said Marc P. Tellier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Yellow Media Inc.

Yellow Media has invested significantly over the last few years to expand the knowledge and capability of its marketing function. The current strong marketing executive team will continue to build on the momentum established and ensure continuity. Mr. Marceau will be a special advisor to the organization for a transition period.

Kathy Perez:

Announced that the Directory Assistance and Information Services Conference – Thriving on the Frontier has been scheduled for November 15th – 16th, 2011 at the Landmark Hyatt Regency, Dallas TX.

“Following on the success of last year’s inaugural event we have created a compelling agenda to provide you with the strategies you need and exceptional networking opportunities.   We are pleased to be teaming up with The Paisley
Group to host THE industry event this year.  We have created one single
event that will bring together everyone in the industry for an outstanding
conference. “

Early bird discounts are available at the Paisley Group Conference site. 

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Are we surprised San Francisco Board of Supervisors Passes Jobs-Killing Ban on Yellow Pages??

It’s official – BIA/Kelsey reports that the mayor of San Francisco has signed the jobs-killing, opt-in legislation which uniquely targeted print Yellow Pages products.  Ok, time for the industry to spring into action.

Step 1 – get the lawyers working and let’s see a bunch of lawsuits that go after
this thing.  As Local Search Association (formerly Yellow Pages Association) President Neg Norton, said in a press release “From day one, we committed to addressing the city’s waste reduction goals, but neither the Supervisors nor the Mayor would let us be part of the process.  What’s most frustrating is that, behind closed doors, many in the city government admit that the arguments and statistics used to support this ban were questionable at best, but for political reasons, did not feel they could oppose it. This leaves us little choice but to pursue legal remedies to this harmful ordinance.”  City of San Francisco – see you in court.

Step 2 – join a boycott of the city.  In this recent post about the decision coming out of San Francisco, I called for a boycott of the city of San Francisco and here’s why:

In the effort to fight this an interesting coalition formed which included groups such as Valley Yellow Pages, AT&T, Seccion Amarilla, the IBEW labor union, The Utility Reform Network, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, ADP association, Chinese Yellow Pages, Rainbow Pages, and other local consumer advocate and business groups. All of them had the same message – IF YOU PASS THIS LAW IT WILL COST JOBS AND HURT SMALL BUSINESSES, HINDERING THEIR EFFORTS TO COST EFFECTIVELY PROMOTE THEIR BUSINESSES. Can all of these groups be wrong?? Not likely.

So other than lawsuits (which are unavoidable), what else can the industry do?? I suggest an all-out boycott of the city of San Francisco. In effect let’s opt-out of city. That means no conventions there (LSA, Kelsey Group, and ADP can you hear us), no personal travel there, no doing business with anyone in the city area, etc. – and then letting the 10 city Board of Supervisors who voted for this legislation know we’re not coming to their city to spend money.

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau says that in 2010, San Francisco hosted 15.9 million visitors who spent $8.3 billion during their stay – that’s more than $22.8 million a day. That makes tourism one of our most important industries for the city. As a result, visitor dollars generated over $485 million in taxes and fees that support The City’s “…general budget, health and safety, arts and cultural organizations, recreational facilities and low-income housing.” This also means that visitor dollars supported about 67,122 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries, or put another way, about $1.88 billion in local payroll (excluding tips).

An industry wide boycott including family and friends should put a little dent in all that don’t you think??

Ironic that just this week  I received this email from a young entrepreneurial
gentleman in San Francisco:

It’s with great enthusiasm (hi-fives) and passion that I am launching Daily Secret, San Francisco – your daily dose of inside scoop secret stuff happening in the awesome city of San Francisco. You are receiving this first secret because I believe you have a love of SF whether you live here or just visit on occasion.

Here is what I sent him back:

Not interested thank you.  Please remove my name from your distribution list immediately .

Given that the city politicians have decided to pass job killing legislation requiring opt-in print Yellow Pages, while not addressing any of the other 99.7% of the other products that are in the typical  municipal waste stream, I and other industry professionals will be boycotting the city and anything to do with it.
That means no conventions there, no meetings there, and no personal travel to
the city.   If the city wants to allow one small group to drive its agenda for purely political reasons, fine.  If that’s what you and the other residents want, ok.  But it also means I don’t have any use for your  city either.…

Now normally one would assume that this is just unusual behavior
by the city and some rouge local government officails.  But maybe not.  I’ve had several people suggest to me that this was already a city that appears to be located somewhere on the other side of the twilight zone.  How can  I say that?
Just check this current news out:

Tales of the Red Tape #11: Circumcising Principle in San Francisco
Heritage.org (blog)

From the city that has already banned military recruiting, plastic bags, cat
declawing, new billboards, ATM fees, citywide phone book delivery,
Styrofoam takeout boxes, officials’ travel to Arizona, and fast-food toys,
there now comes a ballot measure to outlaw the circumcision of minors. Should the initiative prevail in November, the subject snip would become a crime punishable by a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Circumcision?  Seriously?  Is this the most important the Board of Supervisors needs to worry about??

Let’s just boycott the whole scene and let them know it’s a two way street here.  We will get you additional information on how to contact the council and Mayor in a follow-up comment.

In the interim, are you with me??

Going Beyond Just Pay per Call – It’s Simply NO PROBLEM

When a publisher considers working with any new technology and a new supplier, there is an expected checklist the supplier needs to navigate through before a relationship can begin.  The checklist has the usual key items of:   is this a product that will help us grow the business (aka – make money), is it something we can implement seamlessly within our business, will the supplier be able to support it, can our sales people sell, will users use it, etc. etc.  During the recent YPA industry conference, we came across a new Pay-Per-Action provider that passes all of those tests and a whole lot more, appropriately named NO PROBLEM.

You can follow NO PROBLEM several ways: 

First, a short primer on Pay-Per-Action.  As the Yellow Page industry has introduced a range of new digital products, to help speed adaptation an equally wide range of unique revenue models are being used which go beyond traditional fixed pricing.   As a result, there are several different methods of pay for action
available in the market today.

The first variation to come to market is where the consumer types their phone number in an online or mobile request bubble, and the system provides that phone number to a service provider, via text, fax or email, so that they can call the consumer back.

There is also Click to Call, which a consumer clicks on an advertisers phone number and their computer will then phone that number to make the connection between the consumer’s computer and the service provider’s phone.

Now there is the NO PROBLEM Pay-Per-Action model, which encompasses all of the above and so much more.  NO PROBLEM offers a full end-to-end platform, which makes it unique to start.  It’s not just a one product offering company, such as click to call, call tracking and reporting or pay per call.  NO PROBLEM offers them all, built into a unique platform that offers both a publisher and advertiser portal in which to manage, monitor and track all activity.   And, the NO PROBLEM platform offers a very unique feature which enables consumers to:

  • Request that multiple service providers call them for their specific
    service need (rather than having to dial multiple sources and hope to find someone who can do the type of job they are in need of).
  • Then, the system initiates calls out to all available advertisers (who
    have indicated the type of jobs they are willing to do, the geographic region they’ll work, the hours there are ready to work, and when they are available to speak on the phone) – and
  • When the advertiser answers, the system relays to them (by converting the consumer’s text to speech) what the job requires, and requests that they place a bid in order to win the right to speak to the consumer.
  • Depending on how many service providers the consumer requested, that number of advertisers will sequentially be called back, congratulated that they won, and be told to press 1 to be connected to the consumer.
  • While this happens, the consumers’ computer screen will flash with the names and information about the service providers who are about to call them, and gives the consumer an opportunity to search the advertisers’ mini website to learn more.

Another important component to Pay per Call is the ability for software to track,
record and bill for the calls.  In addition to providing this, NO PROBLEM also offers analytics that enables both the publishers and advertisers to understand their ROIs and systems to prevent advertisers from having to pay for bad calls.
For online directories, Pay-Per-Call is now really NO PROBLEM.

To get an even deeper understand of this new product we talked with Daniel Shaked, the CEO of NO PROBLEM:

***********************

YPT:  The Pay-for-Performance model is not a new one to the Yellow Pages industry in North America.  Why is NO PROBLEM’s different??

DANIEL SHAKED:  First, NO PROBLEM was started over 5 years
ago in Israel to verify that a 100% pay per call on-line directory
provider/publisher model does work.  As an on-line directory, it has been working for 5+ years with great success. The average revenue per unique visitor is running $3 to $5.  It’s actually been so successful that we recently completed a deal with Golden Pages to basically have them take over our site in Israel, and implement as their own.

Second, we feel some others out there have some of our services, but they don’t have the complete end-to-end package like we do.     Some offer just call tracking and monitoring, another provides virtual numbers and some even have click to call, but we offer a comprehension solution with all the back office and with all these features plus the ability for the advertisers to self onboard the publishers portal.  As a result we’ve had great success all over the world and are now talking with publishers in North America.

And lastly our technology is a cloud based, SAS platform – a full end to end
platform.  That’s what really makes us unique.

We’re not just call tracking, we’re not just a quick to call feature – you name it we do it.  It’s everything from call tracking, to billing, to monitoring, to recording, to providing a monitoring, to providing all of the analytics.  And it’s
priced as a truly per-action product.

YPT:  That would make NO PROBLEM a publisher, which
has now transformed itself to a technology company working with (selling) to other publishers?

DANIEL SHAKEDYes and no.  At our core, we are a best-in-class technology company with a management team that comes from the software industry and has worked with many innovative high tech companies. Our management team
has over 110 years combined of business experience across a wide range of
technology companies such as AMDOCs, Dassault Systems, Xerox, and Proctor & Gamble.  Most have engineering degrees.

We became a publisher of sorts when we moved our concept into a beta site to
experience firsthand what publishers needed and wanted.  Now with that 5 years of actual experience we have as an online publisher, we have a development
team that understands this business and is bringing some very creative
opportunities to publishers in North America

YPT:  Other than Israel, where else do you have this capability running?

DANIEL SHAKED:  We are currently operational in Poland with
Zumi, with the application embedded in their IYP for about a month now.   Telelistas in Brazil has gone live.  In the middle of May, we’re going live with
Heist and Sutter, 2 big German publishers, and MTT in Hungary.  Also the Baltics have just implemented and should be live shortly.  We are about to
go live in Canada in May with Go2 Pages.

The race now is to see which publisher in the US wants to be the first one.

YPT:  So now for a publisher to be able to implement the full capabilities, this requires space on the Publisher IYP
Page?  Talk about the footprint required.

DANIEL SHAKED:  It’s very simple and straight forward.  And I don’t want to get too technical but publishers need to know the only potential real constraint could be in the telephony used (in developing countries only), not our technology.

YPT:  What other areas are most publishers asking for additional support in?

DANIEL SHAKED:  Mostly it’s been in how their sales team
should sell this product to their advertisers.   We are in the process right now of developing a sample sales script.  We don’t think it’s actually a hard sell
because the advertiser gets to choose how much they want to pay, when they want to receive leads, what types of leads they receive, etc….  And, from the advertisers perspective, until they start to receive real leads for their business it’s not costing them anything.  What business wouldn’t want to pay for real leads?

YPT: What do you recommend that publishers do to promote this new feature to users?

DANIEL SHAKED:  We suggest they post the widget with a small
text box on the screen to indicate “this is new, have Plumbers (or whatever
service provider you’re wanting) call you!”  The big thing the publishers need to communicate with users is “stop having to dial around” in hopes of finding the service available when you want them, for the job you want, in the area you are located.  Instead, just type your phone number in and we’ll have the number of service providers that you wish to hear from call you.  Only those companies that are ready and prepared to do the kind of job you want them to do, when you want them to do it, in the area you want them to do it will contact you.  It’s a huge benefit to consumers.

YPT: Take me through how a typical Pay-Per-Action transaction works for the advertiser?

DANIEL SHAKED:  Initially the advertiser gets to decide how much they want to pay for a call, when they want to receive calls, what type of jobs they are prepared to accept.  So, the who, what, when, where and why is all determined by the advertiser.   If they’re not available or not interested in certain types of service requests, they won’t get the calls.

Next, the advertiser has to decide how much they are willing to pay to get calls.  From our experience, we know an advertiser will pay on average about 5% of the perceived value of the job to accept the call.  As an example, if the job is worth
about $1000, they’ll usually bid about $50.   If the job is worth $100, they’ll will usually bid $5.  We know that because an advertiser is willing to spend on average about 15% of their profit on marketing and they will win the business on average 1 out of every 3 calls.

Here is a link to a short video describing the process:

YPT:  So if the consumer wants to hear from three businesses, do you stagger the calls or is it possible that all 3 advertisers could call the consumer at the same time?

DANIEL SHAKED:  No, it’s one after the other.  The highest bidder would be called first.  When that phone call is finished, the second one will then be called when the consumer hits “1” to be connected to the second advertiser, and so on with the third advertiser when the second call is finished.  The three winners are being notified simultaneously, but they are still called one at a time.

YPT:  Does this new product require a lot of additional support on the publishers end?

DANIEL SHAKED:  Once it’s fully implemented, it shouldn’t.  It does take a couple of days to implement, with our team working directly with the publisher team.  But after that, we found in our Israel based publishing experience that we needed only one additional person to help advertisers get themselves on boarded, and to then handle advertiser customer support  issues (e.g. rebates, concerns, etc.).  Depending on the size of the publishers’ support staff, these items could even be handled in their customer service team.

YPT:  How do you support the publishers in the sales training segment?

DANIEL SHAKED:  We are going to be adding a “business implementation” person, not a technology person for the North American markets.  This is someone that will work initially with the publishers at kick-off’s and sales events, helping support the sales process until the publishers are comfortable with the whole on boarding process.

YPT:  Do you have thoughts on how the publishers should position this product in their mix? 

DANIEL SHAKED:   It could be done several ways.  You can have an advertiser that is already purchasing advertising at a certain level, and add pay per action as an add-on feature to their existing program.  If they get calls off their virtual numbers or they participate in the multiple call back bidding process, they would then pay additionally for those calls.  This also makes a great
standalone product for those who are not presently buying print advertising.  Once again, they would just be paying for it on a pay per call basis.   It could be a great introductory product for non-advertisers – there is no risk or cost until they receive a call so they have complete control over how much they will be paying for any job leads.

YPT:  Are you getting any interest from the national channel here in North America, CMR’s that have franchise clients?

DANIEL SHAKED:  Yes we’ve been talking to CMR’s and we’re finding huge interest because they’ve got advertisers already who are keen to do pay-per-call and are looking for more publishers who will provide that type of product.  They love what we have to offer because they like to see their customers be able to take advantage of the technology.  The only issue is the online widget needs to be installed on the publishers IYP site, which is not something they control.

YPT:  Tell us how the revenues are split with the publisher.  Say a bid of $50 has been won by an advertiser – how does that work?

DANIEL SHAKED:  The pay-per-call result is billed to the
advertiser by the publisher, and then they pay us a revenue  share.

YPT:  How can publishers reach you to find out more?

DANIEL SHAKED:  They can call our Sales Team.  In North America,
contact Julius Meaux at (214)284-4228 or email at julius@noproblemppc.com.  Outside North America, contact Yosh Sagie at 972-54-643-2613 or email at yoshs@noproblemppc.com.   Of course, they can also go to our website
to find out more – www.noproblemppc.com.

News U Can Use – May

These news items are brought to you by Kuk & Baldwin.  Use this information in your account prep efforts:

AIR CONDITIONING UPGRADES.
In some parts of the country, air conditioning (AC) contractors are seeing an uptick in business, due in part to an available tax credit for upgrading to more efficient systems.   Central AC systems typically last 15 years, but heavy users may want to upgrade sooner – and even if an AC system is only 10 years old, switching to more energy-efficient equipment will cut the cost of running it by 20% to 40%.   In most cases, homeowners who want to upgrade a central system would leave the existing ductwork in place but would still have to spend $2500 to $4000 to replace the condenser and compressor.   Window units are typically
replaced every 7-8 years (Money, 5/11).

RINGS AND WEDDINGS.
Diamonds are still a girl’s best friend and make up 30% (and $55 billion) of all jewelry bought in the US in a year – but although the average engagement ring price is now at $5392, over 44% of engagement ring buyers spend $2500 or less.   The number of marriages in the US, while declining in the last three decades, seems to have flattened at about 2.1 million a year – and the majority are formal weddings that carry an average cost of $26,984.   That includes an average of $1099 spent on the wedding dress, typically at a bridal shop (Parade, 5/1/11; USA Today, 4/28/11; Smart Money, 5/11).

GARDENS AND FLOWERS.
The average US household spends about $180 a year on flowers, of which
$63 goes for flowering plants.   Regarding the latter, a garden industry rule of thumb is that for every $1 spent on flowering plants, $3 more is spent on accessories like hoses, garden gloves, and shovels.   All those dollar signs are why chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s are ramping up their flower plant ventories, along with accessories.   For example, Lowe’s has been testing flower plants for the last few years and typically picks 10 a year to sell.   All that big box activity means small local garden stores need to find ways to differentiate themselves – and then get the word out (Personal Journal, 4/27/11).

Find out how to be at the top of your sales performance by
clicking on www.kukbaldwin.com.

 Other recent media/advertising news:

Media Results:  Recent news about advertising media and general has been active.  Here are a few key examples:

 ZenithOptimedia Reduces Global Advertising Forecast

When you add up rising energy prices, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami, and political upheaval worldwide, ZenithOptimedia has decided to scale back its prediction for global ad spending for 2011 from a 4.6% increase over 2010 to a 4.2% increase, with total spending pegged at $470.8 billion. U.S. ad spending is pegged at rising 2.5% to total $155.2 billion this year. Source

Advertising Comeback Seen in Hard-hit Michigan
While overall global ad spending picked up last year from the depths of a recession in 2009 in a modest recovery, even in the state of Michigan,
one of the hardest hit Midwestern states by the downturn. “If the first
quarter of 2011 is an indication of the remainder of the year, we’re going to
have a great year,” said Bob Blanchard, CEO of Hanon McKendry in Grand
Rapids. Source

Local Radio sales Up 3.7% in 2011
Ad revenues at local radio stations will increase 3.7% this year
for a total of $15.1 billion, BIA/Kelsey forecasts. That follows a 5.4%
increase driven by political ads in 2010. The firm expects local ad sales,
including online ads, to hit $18 billion by 2015. Source

Weekly News Magazines Seeing Advertising Gains (except Newsweek)
With the notable exception of Newsweek, U.S. news magazines posted
gains in ad pages for the first quarter, with growth of 36% at the relative
upstart The Week and 49% at Bloomberg’s redesigned Businessweek. Newsweek, however, saw a 31% drop, signaling work still to be done for new owner Sidney Harman and Editor Tina Brown. Source

Digital Out-of-Home Advertising Putting Up Solid Gains
Digital out-of-home media emerged as the biggest percentage gainer among all media in ad revenues for 2010, with a 24.5% jump in spending to $1.1 billion, according to the Digital Place-based Advertising Association. The DPAA notes the ad gains in this particular sector were largely unaffected by political spending, which adds long-term significance to the results.   Source 

TV Ad Dollars Coming Back to Pre-Recession Levels
Don’t look now but TV ad revenues are on track to return to pre-recession levels over the next year, even despite strong growth in online marketing, this according to eMarketer. In fact, television is currently leading the way in the US traditional ad market among other media, most of which show some recover, but just not as quick. Source

Internet Advertising Surpasses Newspapers For First Time

Following up on the prior story, which noted that media other than TV are not recovering as quickly comes the news that spending on U.S. Internet ads rose 15% to $26 billion last year.  This gorw means online is still outpacing traditional media and has now surpassing newspaper ad revenue for the first time.  Source

Online Media News:  Discussion about online advertising is always active.  Recently, that hasn’t changed.  Here are a few key examples:

Digital Magazine Sales Count Towards “Paid Circulation
It all depends on how you count them.  We’ve noted that iPad and digital-edition sales of magazines are officially being counted towards circulation guarantees made to advertisers, per a new guideline from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.  But one twist is that the digital editions and the print editions may have different ads, raising some confusing among media buyers. Source

Google, Yahoo! and others offer ad opt-out icons
With some very vocal concerns coming out of lawmakers in Washington about consumer privacy online, Google and Yahoo! are introducing ad icons that link to tools that allow users to opt out of tracking. Likewise TRUSTe and DoubleVerify are launching similar services that first link to an ad information site. Source

Facebook Testing Ads Based on Real-Time Social Chatter
Facebook is testing an ad-targeting system that is supposed to monitor user chatter and serve up ads in real time related to the most recent conversations. Hmmm.  Analysts say the system could help marketers get through to users who say they find much of Facebook’s advertising irrelevant, but that the system’s success or failure will ultimately depend on its ability to provide pertinent content. “You might have the potential of seeing some unfortunate ads if not targeted correctly,” Debra Aho Williamson says. Source

Mobile Media News:  No topic is hotter now than anything related to mobile, especially mobile marketkng.  Here are a few key examples:

Borrell — Mobile Will Play a Larger Role in Local Advertising
Borrell Associates believes that advertisers will allocate nearly 18% of their online budgets to local media in 2011, compared with about 15% last year. The firm notes that mobile advertising is helping fuel the growth in local advertising and could account for up to two-thirds of local spending within just five years. Revenues at Groupon and Autotrader.com already exceeds online spending at newspapers, TV and radio stations in about 20% of local markets. Source

Cheaper Kindle Come With Ads
Amazon plans to launch a Kindle e-reader that sells for $114,  about $25 less than the lowest-priced version of the popular gadget. But, but,  but — users of the new Kindle with “Special Offers” will have to  view advertising on the home page as they’re choosing which digital books to read. General Motors’ Buick brand, P&G’s Olay line and Visa are reported to be interested in being the first Kindle advertisers, according to Amazon.  Source

Media Research:  It has been an active time for research data especially regarding newer media and social networking.  Here are a few key
examples:

Marketers Missing  The Real Keepers of the Purse Strings
Did you know that women control 80% of  spending in the U.S., and businesses don’t effectively market to women are “leaving millions of dollars … on the table,” according to Susan Fabry.    In this article she offers five tips to help “make this consumer feel understood.” Marketers should acknowledge women, join their circle (especially on the Internet), understand their similarities,  respect their differences and be prepared to grow with them. Source

Study: Almost all U.S. Homes Will Have Access to Broadband by 2016
Interpublic Group’s Magna Global has reported that the number of U.S. homes that are expected to rise from 84.7 million at the end of last year to 99.4 million by the end of 2016, while households with broadband will go from about 76 million to 97.9 million.  For the record that is less than the percentage of homes that receive print Yellow Pages.  Source

Nielsen Says Groupon Users Less Affluent & Educated than LivingSocial’s
Ok for all you social media fans, LivingSocial users, compared with those who use its bigger rival, Groupon, tend to be wealthier and younger and are better educated, according to  Nielsen. LivingSocial users are 49% more apt than the typical American Web user to earn $150,000 or more (which is closer to a typical print Yellow Pages user than Gropon), vs. 30% for Groupon, and are more apt to be under 35 and possess bachelor’s or graduate degrees. Source

Research Say TV is a Major Influencer in Buying Decisions?
Hmmm.  According to a survey by Deloitte, 7 in 10 Americans rank TV viewing as their top media activity, and more than 8 in 10 say TV ads have the biggest influence on what they buy. I’m curious about this since the same study indicated that three in four Americans also multitask during their TV time, with 4 in 10 spent online, 3 in 10 talking on mobile phones, and about one in four IMing or writing text messages.  Seriously?  Source  

Simba Information Industry Forecast – 2011

Simba information, led by Senior Analyst David Goddard, has just completed this year’s version of their annual Industry Forecast.  The study provides an in-depth, detailed view of the current state of the industry, a summary of the key findings, and projections on where the industry is headed in the new future.

When we talked with Goddard about the forecast, he noted some of the key findings:

Overall U.S. yellow pages revenue declined 11.8% in 2010.  The industry’s revenue slide continued in 2010 as a recessionary economy endured and the transition from print to digital products continued. This marks another year of continuous; multiyear double digit loses in revenue from the major publishers. The industry growth rate has been declining steadily since 2004 and finished 2010 at $13.57 billion, or an 11.8% decline over that period.  The outlook for 2011 is similarly negative, but at a slower rate.

Environmental Ticking Time Bomb Goes Off.  Simba believes that the current environmental challenges are a “ticking time bomb” threatening the industry with increased government-imposed controls and “do not deliver” lists scattered around the 50 states. While Simba notes that the associations are hard at work addressing and even partially defused efforts over the  last year, by late 2010/early 2011 the industry faced major legislation challenges in two large metro communities—San Francisco and Seattle, and has not won recent efforts to blunt the trend.

National yellow page advertising is in a sharp decline.  Spending in the yellow pages national channel took a sharp decline of 16.2% in 2010, its third consecutive decline in double digits. National yellow pages spending is projected to decline an additional 12% to $1.47 billion in 2011. Contrast that with the overall yellow pages industry projected decline of 5.5% to $12.82 billion in 2011.

RBOC publishers are the major drag on total industry results.  Aggregate yellow pages revenue for the regional Bell related companies declined 18.2% to $7.72 billion in 2010. Meanwhile, revenue at six leading non-telco independent publishers—Yellowbook, LocalEdge (formerly White Directory Publishers), Valley Yellow Pages, Ziplocal (formerly PDC and Your Community PhoneBook), User-Friendly Media and Names & Numbers—declined only 4.6% to $2.38 billion. 

Online Now Accounts for a 17.2% Share of Total Revenue in 2010.  Yellow pages publishers have been aggressively trying to position themselves as the source for advice and support of new digital media products.  As a result they have seen online revenue continue a double digit increase to reach $2.33 billion in 2010, while the print revenue declined to $11.24 billion, all in the face of a tough economy and an ever-strengthening search engine world led by Google. In the study, Simba will tell you how they project online will continue its double-digit growth rate through 2013 when it will top $4.24 billion, or 33.4% of total revenue of $12.71 billion. 

The study also provides much more detailed analysis in these and other areas.  For example, Goddard commented that in analyzing publisher results, he estimates the RBOCs are discounting prices approximately 20% which would result in actual revenue from the over 50,000 circulation books of $7.3 billion.  Billings for RBOC publishers declined 13.8% to an estimated $9.1 billion in 2010 in books with more than 50,000 circulation. Volume was down 17.3% to 518,085 yellow pages. The estimated $9.1 billion in 2010 billings is based upon full DHC pricing.

The outlook for 2011?  Goddard believes that it doesn’t look as if 2011 is going to be much better for the industry.  He is projecting a 5.5% decline to $12.82 billion. Going forward the rate of decline is expected to slow and by 2013 he expects we will see a slight increase of 2.5%.  Major metro markets are the largest source of local advertising drops.  Yellow pages revenue in the top 20 metro markets declined to $1.65 billion in 2010, a 12.2% share of total industry revenues of $13.57 billion, according to Simba estimates.  Revenue for the top 20 markets was $1.86 billion in 2009, a 12.1% share of total yellow pages revenue of $15.38 billion.

Time to Opt-Out of the City of San Francisco

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved in a purely procedural second and final vote Tuesday legislation which requires residents who want a phonebook to request a copy (aka an “opt-in” program) and blocks any mass distribution of books.  The effort has been championed by board president David Chiu who has already announced plans to run for mayor .  Now he has his environmental green card stamp to begin his run for higher office.

The law doesn’t go into effect until May 2012, and while I don’t have an specific knowledge of what’s next, I am willing to bet you will see much more legal action filed by publishers against this new law should the mayor not veto it.

What’s most disappointing about this whole effort by the city is how short sighted and fundamentally stupid it is.  In a statement released after the vote, His Eminence Mr. Chiu said  “…this legislation reaffirms San Francisco’s nationwide leadership on environmental policy.”   Seriuously??  If that was the case, what is the city doing to remove things like newspapers, cardboard, plastic bottles, and baby diapers from their  waste stream, all items which cost them significantly more to process than phone books.

The city government also seems very short sighted that the mass distribution of a directory was the only way to ensure all local residents received key information on disaster planning, what to do in times of crisis, and even contact information for all city agencies.  This from a city which has a long history of nasty things called earth quakes.

In the effort to fight this an interesting coalition formed which included groups such as Valley Yellow Pages, AT&T, Seccion Amarilla, the IBEW labor union, The Utility Reform Network, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, ADP association, Chinese Yellow Pages, Rainbow Pages, and other local consumer advocate and business groups.  All of them had the same message – IF YOU PASS THIS LAW IT WILL COST JOBS AND HURT SMALL BUSINESSES, HINDERING THEIR EFFORTS TO COST EFFECTIVELY PROMOTE THEIR BUSINESSES.  Can all of these groups be wrong??  Not likely.

The industry has pointed out time and time again its successes in improving recycling rates and providing a simple, efficient opt-out program for those that really don’t want books.  As a result, last year according to the EPA, directory recycling rates improved from 22% to 35%. Wonder what the newspaper recycling rate is, or how about the cardboard that is used in the packaging of nearly everything you buy.  The efforts by the Yellow Pages industry represent a dramatic shift in both source reduction and recycling rates.   All accomplished without any government intervention.

There is some hope for San Francisco.  Supervisor Sean Elsbernd opposed the bill (thank God). He has said he believes the legislation is illegal and he worries about the impact on businesses – finally, someone gets the message.  Now the bill moves to the Mayor for signature.  Given his record, I’m not hopefully he will veto it.

So other than lawsuits (which are unavoidable), what else can the industry do??  I suggest an all-out boycott of the city of San Francisco.  In effect let’s opt-out of city.  That means no conventions there (LSA, Kelsey Group, and ADP can you hear us), no personal travel there, no doing business with anyone in the city area, etc. – and then letting the 10 city Board of Supervisors who voted for this legislation know we’re not coming to their city to spend money.

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau says that in 2010, San Francisco hosted 15.9 million visitors who spent $8.3 billion during their stay – that’s more than $22.8 million a day. That makes tourism one of our most important industries for the city. As a result, visitor dollars generated over $485 million in taxes and fees that support The City’s “…general budget, health and safety, arts and cultural organizations, recreational facilities and low-income housing.”  This also means that visitor dollars supported about 67,122 jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries, or put another way, about $1.88 billion in local payroll (excluding tips).

An industry wide boycott including family and friends should put a little dent in all that don’t you think??

Are you with me?  Say NO to San Francisco

Valley YP Adds Video To Online Hostess

Valley Yellow Pages has now added video to their online hostess function for the MyYP online directory product.

“Jeannie” has been the MyYP online hostess since 2009, helping users through the ins-and-outs of the site and explaining features of the print directory that many don’t know exist, such as the 50 plus pages of community information in each printed Valley Yellow Pages directory. Valley has now taken the MyYP.com site to a new level by incorporating over 100 new category specific videos. For an example of Jeannie in action, check this video out at: http://www.myyp.com/advertisevideo. Who wouldn’t want someone with a little wit and humor to discuss hot topics like plumbing, roofing, and pizza. Michele Meisch, Marketing Manager at Valley Yellow Pages commented, “…we love the depth and action she brings to our site and users have been asking for more. Now anytime a user searches one of the top 103 most frequently searched categories on MyYP.com, they will see a picture of Jeannie above the category heading. Clicking that image will launch a video featuring her helpful tips.”

Valley did also note in their announcement of this new capability that printed Yellow Pages are widely used on a regular basis – recent studies show that 75% of adults still used their Yellow Pages during the last year, with 54% referring to the directory monthly, and 37% using it weekly. Add on a useful online Yellow Pages site such as MyYP.com and it should be no surprised that the combined usage is still increasing year to year.

“Phone books are still a very important piece of our economy and help generate billions of dollars in business transactions that the economy needs to keep itself going,” said Sieg Fischer, president and CEO of Valley Yellow Pages. “We want to continue to bring buyers and sellers together and work cooperatively with each community where we do business.”