Tag Archives: Yellow Page Association

YPA Conference Summary

At a time when a significant number of the industry’s top publishers are struggling financially, a slew of municipalities are pushing required opt-on/opt-out legislation for the printed products, and a substantial economic downturn/weak recovery has small businesses keeping a tight grip on their advertising expenditures, one would expect the annual industry conference from the Yellow Pages Association to be a somber gathering with lots of doom and gloom.  Yet, that wasn’t the case at the April 15th – 19th event held in Las Vegas.  It was certainly not an overly exuberant crowd of about 375 attendees, but one that overall was more optimistic than those who attended last year’s event.

Association Name Change

First, the association has made a bold move to rebrand itself as the “Local Search Association,” Association President Neg Norton indicated that the name change has been under consideration for some time and that “no one on the board [of Directors] thought we should keep doing what we are doing.” The association’s press release noted that:

The Local Search Association represents the best local search marketers in the world. We will continue to serve our long-time Yellow Pages members as well as the ever-expanding universe of companies that connect local buyers and sellers through digital advertising, social networking and mobile platforms.  

The obvious question is whether the name change is purely cosmetic, or does it truly represent a real shift in the association’s mission, and why.  The association is rumored to be after some name players such as Microsoft and Google.  The association’s press release provided some other insights on the name change: 

In the past decade, our industry has evolved from a coalition of companies that publish print directories into a collective group of integrated local search hubs – both in print and online. Because we’re expanding on our original mission of serving Yellow Pages publishers, the Local Search Association is pleased to have these new members – CityGrid, MerchEngine, Kudzu, Telnic Limited, Kenshoo, Thrive Analytics, deCarta, dotMobi, VendAsta Technologies and NO PROBLEM, because they face many of the same opportunities and challenges as our traditional member base.

Given that recent association research indicated that while nearly 70% of US adults still use the printed version of the Yellow Pages directories on a regular basis, the Internet and fast growing mobile web are certainly drawing increased usage. As a result, the association thought the time had come for a re-focusing of sorts that presents the Yellow Pages as more than just print and a readily available online local search tool.

Joe Walsh, the President/CEO of Yellow Book, and now the new association board chairman (who would have thought that would have happened just 5 years ago) commented that “our new brand reflects the transformation of Yellow Pages companies into integrated marketing and local search solutions providers, and better positions us to attract new members.”

Marc Tellier – YPG – “At the apex of transformation”

Among other notable presentations at the conference, one of particular interest was a discussion with Yellow Pages Group CEO Marc Tellier.  He said the “the next three years will bring more change for the Yellow Pages industry than the past three.”  Given the rocky performance of the industry during this extended economic downturn, such a predication was sure to make more than a few attendees uncomfortable.  Other comments from Tellier included:

  • That small/midsize businesses (SMB’s) are an “overwhelmed and underserved” group.
  • When he started some ten plus years ago, 51% of sales force contacts were premise/face to face. Today, that has increased to 76%
  • Based on the full suite of products YPG is selling, the potential market for YPG in Canada is four times that of just the traditional Yellow Pages market
  • The CMR segment needs to consolidate. Leading CMRs have “invested in research and product knowledge, while small CMR shops often do not.”  (The recent implosion of the largest CMR – TMP, was a hot topic in the hallways at the conference)
  • Investment is critical, that YPG has been more aggressive than other directory organizations. And bucking the trend of many publishers, that outsourcing is not his preferred route.

Neg Norton – Association President – A busy time at Association

In Norton’s presentation, he provided a number of compelling stats on changes in the local advertising marketplace:

  • Mobile advertising will grow from 15% of the online advertising market to more than 60% in 2015 (Borrell Associates).
  • Nearly half of SMBs report using Facebook for their business (BIA/Kelsey research), and another 19% use Twitter.
  • Social networking sites now account for more than one-third of all online display ad impressions according to Comscore.
  • More than a third of SMBs increased their use of links and ads on social media sites over the past year, and nearly half planned further increases over the next year
  • And when you add all of that up, of most importance to the industry — 56% of small businesses who will spend on search or social media advertising in 2011 will need help with some aspect of the campaigns (American Express)

No one can deny the statistics Norton covered on the growing use of mobile products:

  • GPS capable handsets grew 16% year over year and now represent 73% of total US mobile users.
  • Smart phones grew 54% and now reflect 28% of total US mobile users.
  • Nearly 70 million people in the U.S. owned smart phones in February 2011 an increase of 13% from the preceding 3 month period.

While these are alarming changes, Norton noted that all of these changes represent a tremendous growth opportunity for the industry.  Norton also provided a status on the usage of Yellow Pages:

  • In 2010, print and internet yellow pages together generated 16.6 billion searches versus 16.9 billion in 2009, a reduction of less than 2%  
  • Print Yellow Pages usage declined 8% from 12 to 11 billion in 2010
  • IYP searches increased 15% to 5.6 billion.
  • The average IYP searcher conducted 4.9 searches during December 2010, a 12% increase from a year earlier

New Board of Directors:

The conference also brought the election of a new board of directors for the Association.  Elected publisher representatives include:   

  • Peter McDonald, SuperMedia
  • Scott Brubaker, Berry
  • Jose Gutierrez, AT&T
  • Alfred Mockett, Dex One
  • Joe Walsh, Yellowbook.
  • Marc Tellier, Yellow Pages Group – International Director

CMR representatives are:

  • Chris Cummings, Marquette Group
  • Norm Hagarty, DAC Group
  • Sharon Sweeney, Fairway Group  
  • Kathleen Decaire-Aden, SMG Directory Marketing

Bill Dinan of Telmetrics is the Associates board representative.

Environment:

Environmental issues continue to be a big item on the Associations agenda.  Norton talked more about efforts in San Francisco, to stop new opt-in legislation.  The Association was joined in a unique coalition fighting effort by 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.

 Norton highlighted industry successes in recycling rates.  Last year, according to the EPA, directory recycling rates improved from 22% to 35%.   This represents a dramatic shift in both source reduction and recycling rates. 

In our next article, we will cover presentations from other speakers, what we found at the conference from the industry suppliers, and those companies recognized in the annual Industry Excellence Awards.  Stay tuned.

Preview of Yellow Page Association Conference

The 2011 Yellow Pages Association (YPA) conference is fast approaching.   This annual event will be held, Saturday April 16,to Tuesday, April 19 in Las Vegas, NV, at Caesar’s Palace.

This year’s theme of “Search Starts Here,” emphasizes the pivotal role that local search is increasingly playing in our industry. New offerings, new partnerships, the growing role of social media and continuing print to digital media conversion will all be hot topics in 2011. YPA President Neg Norton indicated that the Search Starts Here theme was selected “because 2011 is such a pivotal year for our industry and it sets the tone for great discussions about the shift towards digital integration that we’ve been talking about on our blog and in our other member communications.”

As a result this year’s agenda is also more diverse, with a lot more around social media and mobile.  Neg indicated that the agenda is a “better reflection of what our members are doing these days and where they see growth opportunities.  We have several new supplier members from outside of the traditional Yellow Pages space.  Print Yellow Pages will still be an integral component and major focus but the social media part is reflective of the change we are seeing around us.”

We asked Neg why in the midst of tough economic time which has reduced travel budgets, why should people from the industry plan to attend?   He noted the three main objectives of the conference:

  1. A focused, strong agenda which will give people specific ideas to bring back to the office.
  2. Numerous networking opportunities to let people connect.  It is one of the few opportunities that people in industry have to connect with their peers to understand the challenges they are also facing.  Currently attendance is tracking about the same as last year so a turnout in the 450+ range of attendees is expected
  3. Have some fun

A strong lineup of speakers has been assembled.  A recent addition is a keynote address from former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty, who has formed an exploratory committee regarding a run for President. Coming from very humble roots, Pawlenty has always been a strong supporter of small business, a key customer of the Yellow Pages industry.  Through a balance of innovation and leadership he helped Minnesota balance its budget, cut spending, reform health care, and improve schools without raising taxes.  Attendees will also be receiving copies of his new book, “Courage to Stand”, which you can get signed immediately after the close of the General Session on Tuesday, April 19th.

Some other key speakers include:

  • Dan Danner, President, National Federation of Independent Business
  • Yvette Liu, Facebook
  • Rachel Pasqua, VP Mobile Group, iCrossing
  • Marc Tellier, President and CEO, Yellow Pages Group
  • Martin Tobias, CEO/President, Tippr

Instead of the traditional exhibition hall format, YPA will again offer a unique concept used last year of “Strategic Exchange Sessions”.  The new format was hugely successful at last year’s conference, and will continue in this year’s event.  With an SES location, companies can make appointments with industry executives and set the stage for profitable business initiatives.  The meetings are held in a suite, by the pool or in private table areas arranged for by the YPA staff.  Norton noted that “many of the suppliers found it to be an incredibly productive business development effort. The opportunity to sit down with a key decision maker is what makes this structure so unique.” Of course, the level of interest in a supplier’s products or services will be the ultimate gauge for how successful these sessions are for suppliers and potential customers. 

Another staple of the conference are the Industry Excellence Awards which are the annual recognition point for excellence in the industry.  Categories this year have been revamped to reflect the increased importance of digital media.

All work and no play leads to a very dull industry event, so there are a few activities to have some fun and network further such as the BuyYellow.com Tennis Tournament, and what would a Yellow Pages industry event be like without a golf tournament such as the BuyYellow.com Golf Tournament which will be held at the Arroyo Golf Club. 

Environmental efforts by the industry have grabbed a lot of the headlines lately.  Neg indicated he will provide an updated status on these efforts as part of his presentation.  Neg seemed optimistic that some resolution in several of the key discussions YPA has been pursing could be achieved by conference time.  “We’ve had a very strong, diverse coalition come together including small businesses in San Francisco to help put pressure on the Board of Supervisors.  We’re working very hard in Seattle to get the recently passed opt-out legislation overturned.  Optimistically, with success in these two efforts we will be recognized as an industry that can’t be taken lightly.  The industry IS doing a lot of the right things to be responsible corporate citizens and doesn’t need additional regulation.”

We also asked Neg about the struggles some in the National channel are having.  He commented that “CMRs that invested in their businesses over the years and diversified their offerings to include online while not abandoning print are doing fine.  They are in a good position to serve their clients more effectively.”

While the conference will also be an opportunity to understand more about the efforts of the YPA staff over the last year, Neg commented on one new effort that will be covered at the conference – a social media campaign test through Twitter that is underway with several national advertisers.  It would drive ads to the front page of Twitter with links to a special landing page.  To find out more you have to be there.

Are you registered yet?  What are you waiting for?  Click here to complete your registration NOW!!!!

A Win In Round 1 in San Francisco

Efforts by a wide coalition of publishers, small business owners, and even labor unions representing directory employees have succeeded in getting the San Francisco board of supervisors to delay a vote on efforts to institute an opt-in ordinance for Yellow Pages. 

The opt-in ordinance has been championed by Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, who has already announced plans to run for mayor along with his new found interest in environmental issues (where have you been Joe DiMaggio?).  We have consistently been suspicious of local politicians like Chiu who have found that attacking phone book distribution can be an easy way to get your pro-environment ticket punched. As a result the Yellow Pages industry had to organize the coalition, many of whom have competing interests, to press Board members to oppose the bill since:

  • Publisher and Association opt-out options are available for San Francisco residents. 
  • It will cost jobs in a state where unemployment has been running well above the already levels nationwide.
  • Would hurt small businesses who know that print Yellow Pages are an effective advertising mechanisms with high ROI’s.

Now Board members will wait for a study from the city economist to determine if the objections about job loss and hardship it will cause for small businesses are valid. The report is due May 10th. Clearly efforts by the coalition got the Board’s attention as comments from some of the Board members about jobs at risk came up.

In an email this morning, Yellow Pages Association President Neg Norton indicated that the industry is continuing to work to get small businesses more involved in the effort:

“We’ve begun a merchant outreach program this week in the key districts that will produce letters, videos and petitions as well as a phone bank program where concerned citizens can be patched through to their supervisor to express their opinions. We’ll also begin to gather data on the issues they’re likely to raise with us. It’s been an amazing effort by the coalition we’ve established and we’re making progress.”

While the war is far from over, the industry has clearly won the first battle.  The industry needs to continue to rally behind the associations to combat this effort and send a message to local officials like Chiu that there are other areas their environmental efforts could be better focused than phone books to gain an even bigger impact and cost reduction without hurting small businesses and jobs. 

Keep fighting the fight…

Spring Industry Conference Update

Given the amount of nasty winter weather that much of the country has been experiencing, it may seem like a little bit of a reach to say that spring is just around the corner. For some it can’t get here soon enough.  Spring is also the time when several major industry events occur.

Here is a short summary of what’s ahead.  You need to get these on your calendar…

BIA/Kelsey – ILM East

At BIA/Kelsey, they are assuming that indeed the snow will eventually melt in Boston, the site for their ILM East conference which will be held March 21-23.  ILM East is a brand new show and follows their recent Interactive Local Media 2010 conference in Santa Clara which had a reported attendee list reaching nearly 700.

The initial program has recently been released. The focus of the conference is the fast-changing local media and marketing environment. This event features two “SuperForums” on: 1) mobile local media and 2) group buying/deal a day. Each of these forums will also focus on where mobile and group buying are headed, with many of the top leaders in each space.

“Hyperlocal” also gets a different spin at ILM East — rather than focusing on community and content, BIA/Kelsey says they are “ready to talk dollars – real dollars”, specifically how some national companies are approaching local search.  Expected speakers include U-Haul’s Elnora Palms and Progressive Insurance’s Matthew Marko.

Now if you are a member of BIA/Kelsey’s LinkedIn group, you can receive special pricing on ILM East registration. Sign up at www.biakelsey.com/ILMEast2011 with promo code ILMEIN and save $200 on the public registration price. The price increases on Jan. 29, so you need to register fast.

Visit www.biakelsey.com/ILMEast2011 for the full agenda, current list of speakers, and online registration.

YPA – Yellow Page Association

Next up is the Yellow Pages Association annual conference which runs April 16 – 19, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Recently YPA announced that Emily White, the Senior Director of Local at Facebook will be one of the keynote speakers at this year’s event

White joined Facebook in September 2010 leading Facebook’s efforts on the business side to engage with local businesses and users.  Prior to Facebook, Emily was at Google for ten years, joining as Google’s first person on the Sales and Operations side of the AdWords product.  During her time at Google Emily was responsible for a variety of efforts, running Google’s Emerging business teams, leading Asia Pacific, and Latin America Online Sales and Operations, and Google’s North America AdWords Online Sales and Operations team. Emily also managed Google’s Women’s Leadership Community (WLC), an organization focused on attracting, growing, and retaining top female talent.

Emily was recently named as “One to Watch” in Fortune magazine.  Prior to Google, Emily worked in business development for Achex, a person-to-person payment start up.  Emily is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.

Click here to register now and don’t miss any of the dynamic speakers, great workshops and networking opportunities at this year’s conference!

And just remember, it’s in Vegas baby….

ADP – Association of Directory Publishers:

Last but not least, the Association of Directory Publishers hosts its Annual Convention and Partners Trade Show, April 26-28, in sunny Hollywood, Florida (no issues with snow here). With some very specific industry-specific content and what is expected to be the largest industry trade show, this even has become an annual must for yellow pages’ publishers and industry suppliers.

The theme of this year’s convention, Conquering Misperceptions – Crafting New Realities, with the multiple programming tracks driving the convention agenda. One track will focus on understanding, proving, and marketing the legacy value of print; while the other focuses on concrete ways that publishers may leverage their traditional strengths of rich content and local presence into new customers and revenue sources through new approaches. The creative use of Social Media platforms is just one of the topics of track two; how publishers can utilize the power of mobile applications is another.

The Convention opens with Dr. Dennis Fromholzer as the keynote speaker. Dr. Fromholzer is recognized worldwide as a leading expert in Yellow Pages research and analysis. Utilizing authenticated data, he will explain why the future of Yellow Pages remains positive and how it still delivers great value to advertisers.

This convention also includes several networking functions and will culminate with the industry’s Gold Book Awards Dinner and Ceremony, where the Gold Book Publisher of the Year will be announced.

For more information or to register for the convention, contact the Association’s Headquarters at 800.267.9002 or hq@adp.org.