Monthly Archives: September 2011

Upcoming Industry Conferences

 This article is a quick preview of upcoming industry conferences…

The next industry conference will be The Association of Directory  Publishers mid-year conference at the Newport Beach Marriot Hotel and Spa in Newport Beach, CA, Oct. 5-7.  Ross Shafer, television producer and author of books on principles of corporate and consumer buying habits focused on growing market share, wiil be the keynote speaker.

The conference will open the evening of Oct. 5 with a board of directors meeting and welcoming reception.   Shafer will be the keynote on October 6th and discuss winning market share through innovation, cultural trends and defining the needs of customers’ expectations.

Other presentations include “Conversations on How Change Positively and Negatively Impacts Your Business,” “How Change Relates to Future
Opportunities, How to Leverage off Directory Platform, How to Monetize and How to Stay Up-to-Date,” “Industry Challenges and Necessary Change,” “Effective Ad Design,” and “Sales for Today and Tomorrow: Motivating, Training and Compensation.  The conference will end at noon Oct. 7.

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The BIA/Kelsey folks are running ILM Asia on Oct. 25-26, 2011, at The Regent Singapore.  The media landscape in the Asia-Pacific region is changing rapidly, and in some ways, leads the way in online leads, social media and e-commerce. Join BIA/Kelsey, ADPAI and local media leaders from across the region and around the world, as they dig deep into this emerging marketplace at ILM Asia 2011.

Sign up today for ILM Asia. Prices increases Friday, Sept. 30!

The opening keynote address will come from James Sanders, Head of Channel Partnerships, at Google Asia Pacific.   Sanders manages Google’s channel partnerships business in the Asia-Pacific region. The unit sells Google’s full range of advertising products through partners to small and midsize businesses. Launched in 2010, it is now one of Google’s fastest-growing business units in APAC.

Who usually attends an event like this?   ILM Asia is a must-attend event for companies in Asia focused on online directories, local or mobile search, social media verticals or deals, including:

  • Directory publishers
  • Newspapers
  • Search engines
  • Ad networks
  • Agencies
  • Online verticals
  • Technology partners

Companies from outside the region that want to learn more about the significant opportunities the Asian market offers should plan to attend as well. This event is also an excellent venue for investors looking for insight into new trends and to rub elbows with promising regional entrepreneur.

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The YELLOW PAGES TODAY ! Annual Conference will be held the 16 & 17 of November 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The Yellow Pages TODAY ! strategy this year has been broadened to include target groups other than just Yellow Pages providers. Speakers and delegates from search engines, social networks, SEO / SEM providers, Web Designers and Daily Deal companies will join those from Yellow Pages providers.

The upcoming conference has already attracted 9 CEOs as speakers and more are expected. All the leading YP companies are providing speakers, including Eniro, Truvo, European Directories, SEAT Pagine Gialle and Pages Jaunes. There are also speakers from leading publishers in Germany and New Zealand. Additionally presentations will be made by Google, Proximedia and other newcomers. The full programme is available under www.yellowpagestoday.net.

Event co-organizer, Peter Buxton, said that he was delighted with the market’s response to this plan to broaden the target group. “ That so many leaders have readily agreed to speak at this event ensures that the delegates will truly be able to update on market trends and learn how others in the SME market are generating interest and revenue. The willingness to share ideas and success stories is indeed very encouraging. For leaders of companies who are serving the large SME market with response-related services, this conference is the place to be!  We look forward to a very successful conference.”

There are also opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors. Details are to be found on the Yellow Pages TODAY ! website. Registrations can be made online at www.yellowpagestoday.net

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The 2012 Local Search Association Annual Conference is scheduled for April 21-24 at the Boca Resort in Boca Raton, Florida.

While the agenda is still in development, you can reserve rooms now to get the special discounted rate. Click here to book online or call 1-888-557-6375 and ask for the Local Search Association or group code – AYPAEP.

To help you mark your calendar now, click on this link to save it in your Outlook
calendar
.

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Today’s Strategic Imperatives For Directory Publishers

Sebastien Provencher posted a great article on his Where Local Meets Social  blog on earlier this week.  We are posting it here in its entirity….

Today’s Strategic Imperatives For Directory Publishers

Yesterday, I gave an interview to the Globe & Mail about Canada’s Yellow Media / Yellow Pages Group, the incumbent directory publisher and my former employer (I worked there from 1999 to 2007). Even with the challenges they’re facing, I’m still a fan of the company (and of the industry in general) but the interview gave me the opportunity to put in writing what I think are the core strategic imperatives today for any directory publisher, not just Yellow Media. The list won’t surprise anyone in the industry but it’s always good to remind ourselves what they are.

  1. Change the culture. “Internet culture” must truly permeate every aspect of the organization. Concepts like speed of execution, innovation, quick iterations, coopetition, risk-taking, failing fast must become second nature (other people on Twitter & Google+ suggested “internet culture” also meant constant learning, openness, willingness to help each other out, adaptability to constant change, sharing, crowdsourcing, diversity, immediacy, learning, and expectation of access)
  2. The sales force. I believe the sales force is now the major asset of all directory publishers and this sales force needs to be able to sell print directory products as well as a variety of online products   including third-party ones like Google AdWords or Facebook advertising.  This means recruiting and training are critical success factors. I use to believe the brand was a major asset but not anymore.
  3. Reinvent the Print. I still believe print business directories have legs and they won’t die tomorrow (and by the way, stop it with      “Yellow Pages are dead” please, nothing ever dies, it just becomes niche).  Even I still use the neighborhood book once in a while. But the book needs to be reinvented to become more locally relevant, more about the consumer.  As Francis Barker (SVP at Dex Media at the time) said in 2004 at a BIA/Kelsey conference, print books design should be influenced by online local search patterns/usage. I’ll add that they now should be influenced by mobile local search/discovery apps. On a related note, book distribution in apartment and office building should be improved to avoid the PR disaster pictures like this.
  4. Continue investing in the Web. Beef up your dev and product management team, invest in R&D, try things. Facebook has shown that you can continue innovating even when you have huge consumer usage and ad  revenues.
  5. Focus on mobile. The Web is extremely fragmented and some players like Google and Facebook have managed to capture gigantic market shares. There’s probably a bigger opportunity to support the franchise by  focusing on mobile and launching various vertical apps. Directory  publishers need to invest and build up their mobile team and technology.
  6. Get serious about social media. I’m obviously biased because of the work I’m doing on Needium, but the time for experiments in social media is over. This is serious business now both from a consumer and an advertiser point of view.

Am I forgetting anything???

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No you didn’t Sebastien.  Very wise words.  Nice blog.   I would like to pile on a little.

On the sales force, I was more than a little disappointed to hear senior level people from several major publishers trashing the capabilities of their current sales team at the recent BIA/Kelsey conference.  The message to them is wake up – you’re not really seeing what these people can do.  With a little more consistent direction, management support, and clarity on exactly what you want them to sell, they can do wonders.  Don’t sell them short just because
someone has been selling print products only for some time.  Trust me, there are a ton of other industries that would love to grab these sales pros, and they will if you don’t start paying some attention and appreciation to them.

On mobile, it’s clearly the big opportunity going forward.  I am not as
convinced on most social media, as I don’t view that as a place where people
want to be inundated with advertising.   The reason many people have gone to Facebook for communication is they get less spam than from email.

On print, agree totally with Sebastien.  Maybe the better way to look
at it is why does a print Yellow Pages have to have 4000 headings to be successful??  Wouldn’t a couple of key service guides, in addition to a full suite of digital products provide the same results for advertisers?  There are certain things for which digital is a slam dunk.  But then there are a host of other products and services, especially in headings I may not be as familiar with that print still works well.  And I still insist it’s quicker and easier to find many thing in print than online.   At least for now.

But in total, nice job Sebastien.

Taking Video and Banner Advertising To A Whole New Level

As the Internet became a viable new media, banner advertising emerged as an effective way to monetize it.  It was a simple concept – very much like
posting billboards all over a city.   But the reality quickly evolved to a point where banner ads were largely ignored by users. Most banner advertising had become very annoying (especially the pop-ups and enlarging ads you get when you visited a page) and required you to manually close them. Worse yet, despite the capability of this powerful new media to target users with specific, customized information, many banner ads were placed on pages totally unrelated to the ad itself. Despite the advent of all kinds of software to fight them, users have developed what became known as “banner blindness”.  As a result, innovative advertising was required to get back the attention of users along with their engagement.

One such method is video.  Video has become one of the leading drivers of online ad growth (eMarketer), mostly due to its high engagement and open rates.  Projections are for a 10.5% increase in US online ad spending for 2011, followed by double-digit growth every year through 2014 when spending should reach $40.5 billion. Video advertisements received CTR (click through ratios) that can be as high as 10-50x greater than a typical banner and conversion rates up to 10x greater (John Ferber of Video Affiliate Network) than regular static banner ads.

But there still seems to be something missing from both banners and
video.  Not any longer.  Say hello to a new company, Webshoz (“Web shows”) which is taking video and banner advertising to a whole new level using a focused, multiple purpose onscreen “Videobar” with several video choices that viewers can roll-over to play and click on demand.

CEO Alexandrea Day and Sales Director Frank Rocco recently gave us a
preview of this new capability.  Briefly, the company has developed an innovative
new combination of an interactive banner ad with multiple videos allowing national branding and local sales leads, all in the same ad unit.
Their “Heads & Tails Videobar®” provides video previews from the Head side (National Advertiser’s videos) to its Tail (local dealers, agents or location’s videos) utilizing built-in Videobar® smart targeting technology.  This allows the videos to be delivered for local dealers, agents or franchisee’s in a fraction of a second. But it gets even better – the company can provide even more targeted information to the user in the local video area that actually matches the user’s IP
address.  Here is what a generic footprint looks like:


As an example, an insurance company like Allstate can feature several types of insurance products in the first video, client testimonials in the middle slot, and a video for each local franchise/agent in the “tail” window, rotated into the slot based upon the IP address of the user.   Here is an example of what their Videobar® might look like:

But what you are seeing above is just a static banner illustration and not a true, active Videobar®.  CLICK HERE to see a real Videobar® at Work…..

The technology also has a neat feature which is their roll-over play-in-place preview  that increases consumer engagement and viewing time.  The videos start when you mouse-over them, and stop when you mouse-off, keeping their place in the video to pick up where the user left off when rolled-over again.

A product like this opens up huge potential for several industry segments and especially CMR’s that work with national advertiser franchisee/dealer networks.  Now they have a tool to provide a consistent national branding message, while featuring their local dealers/franchisees videos.  Both the local and national
parts could tie the videos with daily deals and all three videos can be linked
to separate URLs to buy immediately or to print coupons.  Even click to call features can be plugged right into the Videobar®.

A second version of this technology is their Videobar® that accommodates multiple videos from multiple merchants simultaneously.  One such format is the scrolling Videobar®.

For a live example, click here to see a scrolling Videobar® in action. This type of application is perfect for any publisher who wants to showcase merchant videos that are buried in profile pages, rarely seen.  The Videobar® is smart and delivers relevant videos based upon category, keyword and/or location.

Finally, the Videobar® can be used to syndicate any video content in a small form factor across the web.  Another new product in the lineup is the “Direct Deals” Videobar® which allows merchants to offer their own deals, charging for ad placement inside the Videobar® instead of taking any of the deal sale. Webshoz  fully supports collection of funds from buyers and deposits the
money directly into the merchant’s bank account.  Considering the strength of video for deals and the business model to help merchants make money, it expects significant uptake of this new product.

The numbers:  3-9% of those exposed to the Videobar® (an impression) watch the videos for :15 – :25 seconds.  10% of those who have watched, click
through.  The cost for a Videobar®  ranges from $2-$7 CPM depending upon the size of the placement.  If the advertiser doesn’t have local videos, Webshoz can produce professional videos at the lowest industry cost (from $99 for a montage ad with existing images to $1,500 for an on-site shoot with HDTV quality).

Webshoz was launched just 15 months ago with angel funding and has a patent pending on its technology.   CEO Alexandrea Day has been involved in online video advertising for the last 7 years, including the launch of an online live
streaming video solution. Frank Rocco has been in the video advertising
industry for 25 years including U.S. and overseas agency experience with Leo
Burnett and McCann-Erickson (New York & London).

To find out more visit http://webshoz.com or contact Frank Rocco at 415 847 1239, or via email at FrankRocco@WebShoz.com

 

People – September

It has been another active period for announcements about people
in the Yellow Pages industry.  This regular 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.

Gregory Freiberg:

Dex One has announced that Gregory Freiberg has joined the company on Monday, September 12th in the position of executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“Greg’s solid accomplishments as a public company CFO, coupled with his extensive technology background make him an excellent addition to our new leadership team,” said Alfred Mockett, chief executive officer of Dex One. “As we transform our operations to help local business leverage digital media, his proven track record of delivering shareholder value will be invaluable.”

Freiberg will report directly to Mockett and be responsible for all aspects of Dex One’s finance operations as well as play a key role in executing the company’s business strategy.

Freiberg began his career in the United States National Guard and during his 9-year career he rose to the rank of Captain and Infantry Company Commander.
He comes to Dex One with a strong career of senior finance positions at
leading global technology companies, including Savvis, XO Holdings, Asia
Netcom, Level 3 Communications and MCI.

As chief financial officer of Savvis, a global outsourcing data center provider, he led the company through a transformation which resulted in double digit year-over-year revenue and EBITDA growth. He was also a principle architect of the company’s merger with CenturyLink, Inc., completed in July 2011.

While serving as CFO at XO Holdings, Freiberg successfully crafted a series of initiatives to strengthen the company’s balance sheet, drive growth in new revenue streams and decrease debt.

He is a graduate of The University of South Dakota where he earned a BS in business administration.

Christian Paupe & Ginette Maille:

Christian M. Paupe, Executive Vice President – Corporate Services and Chief
Financial Officer, has left Yellow Media to pursue other interests.

“We want to thank Christian for his significant contributions to Yellow Media and for his commitment and support throughout his many years of service” said Marc P. Tellier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yellow Media.

“We are pleased to announce that Ms Ginette Maille will assume the role of Chief Financial Officer on an interim basis.”  Ms. Maille has been a senior financial executive at Yellow Media since 2003, most recently as Chief Accounting Officer. Over that period, she has led various critical financial initiatives across the organization.

“Ginette is well respected for her deep understanding and knowledge of
the Company. She is a seasoned financial executive and her skills will serve us
well as we continue our transformation of the Company. I look forward to
working with her in her new role.” added Mr. Tellier.

Charles Levien:

Yellow Page industry pioneer Charles Levien died at home on August 23rd at the age of 86.

In 1949, Charles took on a small independent directory, which he grew and built by expanding coverage through startups, acquisitions and business acumen what is today Yellow Book. He was a pioneer in the yellow page industry, building the oldest and largest independent publisher in the nation. He sold the company in 1986 but remained a consultant until his death. He considered this later period the “dessert of his career,” saying that, as boss, people had to come to him, but as an advisor, they did so because they wanted to.

His employees fondly remember how each morning Levien would walk through the building saying “good morning” to each person in every department, from mailroom to executives. Anyone — worker, advertiser or user offering a suggestion that made sense to Charles — would see their idea implemented promptly. Because of the vacations, benefits and atmosphere, it was
rare for any employee to leave, and those who did would often stay in touch
with Charles over the years.

Charles was on the board of South Nassau Community Hospital in Oceanside for many years. He also served on the board of Luther E. Woodward School for Emotionally Disturbed Children in Freeport. He was born in Rockville Centre on July 4, 1925, and eventually moved to Cutchogue, NY where he had summered on his boat for many years.

Rob Luskey & Steve Dong

Irvine-based Local.com has bolstered its executive ranks this naming Rob Luskey as Vice President of Business Development, and Steven Dong as Vice President of Finance.

Laskey was most recently Local.com’s Senior Director, Business Development.  Domg joins the firm from Rovion, the firm recently acquired by Local.com.

Luskey has previously served at United Yellow Pages and Go2 Systems; Dong has
previously served at DigitalPost Interactive, Taitron Components, and Coopers
& Lybrand, LLP. Local.com operates a network of local search sites.

Tom Higley:

Local Matter has named Tom Higley its new CEO.   Higley has a deep background in starting up technology companies.

His LinkedIn profile shows that Higley was most recently CEO of Pavlov games, which “creates and distributes event-based social games.”