Archive for the ‘Yellow Pages’ Category

Yellowbook Layoff

Monday, January 31st, 2011

I continue to hear rumors and rumblings of big changes in the yellow pages industry, and it seems like almost anything could happen in terms of restructuring, mergers and acquisitions. I just learned of a layoff at Yellowbook over the weekend — according to the news report they are saying they’ll cut 70 jobs, nationwide.

Yellowbook Yellow Pages Company

There were very recent rumors that Yellowbook might be sold by Yell company, and that it could be an acquisition target for some other major companies. The layoffs are further underscoring unrest and change at the company, so there could be something to the M&A rumors. Some possible buyers have been theorized, including Google and Yellow Pages Group.

I’ve also heard AT&T’s name floated about as potentially interested in Yellowbook — they keep getting whispered about as a possible suitor for buying some of the big YPs. As I reported earlier, AT&T might acquire Dex One and/or SuperMedia.

My theorizing of a “trifecta merger” for AT&T/Dex/Superpages smacks more than a bit of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking for faltering yellow pages companies, but could we go even farther out there and ask if AT&T might be doing a giant roll-up strategy that brings Yellowbook into the mix as well? (more…)

SuperMedia & Dex One Layoffs

Friday, January 21st, 2011

A few people internally at SuperMedia’s Superpages have pinged me this week to let me know of a larger layoff that happened yesterday at the company – reportedly 300 or more employees, primarily in the Internet Sales Division, were layed-off. I’m surprised Dallas Morning News hasn’t reported on it.

Dex One is apparently also planning to lay off 65 graphics workers in Colorado.

Both companies have already gone through a few rounds of cuts at this point, severely reducing the numbers of employees they have. I’ve also heard that both companies are using similar language around plans to outsource various functions overseas.

SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperDex

I've speculated for a while that SuperMedia, Dex & another company might merge.

While it’s not surprising that either company would be doing cost-cutting activities, I continue to believe that the silver lining may be that these actions still look like possible advanced reorganization plans prior to merger of the yellow pages companies.

It might be significant that the layoffs are happening somewhat in sync.

My heart goes out to the layed-off employees — I hope you all find new replacement jobs quickly! Just know that there is life after Superpages. :-)

Australian YP Telstra Fighting As Legal Underdog Down Under

Monday, January 17th, 2011

TelstraThe Aussie yellow pages company, Telstra, is continuing to fight hard to protect their claim that yellow pages business directories can be copyrighted.

Judges found last year that directories were no longer covered by copyright because their creation and maintenance was computerized.

Copyright of phonebook directory information has always been on shaky ground, since facts themselves generally cannot be copyrighted. In the U.S. in the past the argument has been that the index arrangement of the directory information or the process to generate the directory could be copyrighted. Alternatively, it was also possible to patent metadata elements used in conjunction with the directory, such as a unique taxonomy. But, as Greg Sterling has outlined, directory listings lost copyright status in 1991.

Even so, major internet yellow pages companies considered their directories to be a prime intellectual property asset, and have worked hard to protect them for quite some time, using various methods. For instance, obtaining exclusive new data update agreements from the telcos so that their data would always be fresher, and thus superior to anyone else’s. (more…)

Yellow Pages Argues Seattle Law Limiting Distribution “Unconstitutional”

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Yellow Pages Legal Conflict in SeattleAs you may be aware, Seattle passed an ordinance in October which required yellow pages print directory companies to pay for an annual license and to allow consumers to opt-out of receiving print yellow pages phonebooks from being delivered to their properties. The Yellow Pages Association filed a motion in federal court last week, seeking to have the ordinance canceled on the basis of unconstitutionality.

The YP industry claims that the print directories should be considered protected speech, and that their content is also primarily informational content, with a lower percentage of advertising content than magazines and newspapers.

I think that the YPA may technically be right, but are putting themselves in direct opposition of an influential demographic which are irritated by directory books getting dropped on their doorsteps, apartment buildings and in their places of business. The argument is somewhat facile — rather like me saying that I can write nearly whatever I wish and it’s protected as free speech — however, that doesn’t give me the right to spraypaint it upon the side of someone’s home. It’s the method of transmission of this free speech that’s being contested.

For many in Seattle, the ordinance doesn’t sound like an unduly heavy limitation for the YP companies. After all, only a minority of recipients are likely to opt-out of delivery, and the licensing fee is very small. (more…)

Trust Seals May Be Super Local Ranking Factors

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Over on SEM Clubhouse this morning I posted an article about how online trust seals could increase conversions for local businesses. That proposition is not all that controversial, when you connect the dots. Lots of research finds support for the idea that trust seals increase consumer confidence for online retailers — and online retailers need this, since there’s often mistrust of the safety of making online purchases.

However, confidence is also needed in order to translate online traffic into offline customers. For local businesses, this is key. It is hard in some industries to tell if the online presence represents a real, actual business. As I touched upon in an article earlier this month, there are quite a few false business addresses cropping up in Google Places and elsewhere, and these undermine consumer confidence.

So, the logic seems fairly solid to believe that if you can increase consumer confidence in a website, by extension they may have a higher initial trust in the business itself. For businesses relying upon people visiting their premise, this could be key to improving referral rates from online sources.

Of course, the value proposition just may not be there. Many website certifications and trust seals may be costlier than their worth to offline businesses. This is why I suggested some lesser alternatives, such as making local chambers-of-commerce badges.

SuperGuarantee badgeThe issue of trust is very key to getting a consumer to choose your business. This is why some local business marketing companies have created trust badges and guarantee programs. For instance, the Superpages.com SuperGuarantee program is one such, and for a while was considered to be a primary strategy for that internet yellow pages company, which has otherwise struggled with survival as consumers turn from print media to online resources such as Google Maps.

The SuperGuarantee program was a fairly good idea. The concept of leveraging a trust mark and guarantee program is an overall good idea for internet yellow pages (even if the program was obviously very derivative and immitative of similar services offered by other companies, such as the ServiceMagic Guarantee, and even if it never quite lived up to being the “savior of yellow pages” it was virtually touted to being).

From a business’s perspective, it might be a good proposition, if you count it as mainly an advertising/promotional cost. Statistics indicate that very few consumers actually avail themselves of money-back guarantees in most cases. The question of whether the SuperGuarantee ever actually has achieved sufficient consumer recognition to be valuable to businesses is still up in the air. I’m not sure they have done enough promotion of the badge and service to reach critical mass with consumers.

However, I’d say that even with services that have lower overall consumer familiarity, merely having an independent service providing you with an endorsement could give you a leg up above similar competition which does not have any endorsement.

There are quite a number of industry-specific and product-specific rating services which might be valuable to display on your website. For instance, among attorneys the Super Lawyers rating might well be worth gold. Super Lawyers magazine names attorneys across the United States who receive highest point totals, as selected by their attorney peers and through independent research they conduct. The Rising Stars names each state’s top up-and-coming attorneys.

Super Lawyers - trust seal badge

While the Super Lawyers guidelines won’t allow recipients to directly call themselves “Super Lawyers”, having the association with the Super Lawyers designation likely makes an immediate impression upon consumers. If you’re protecting your business or getting representation for an upcoming divorce, don’t you want to avail yourself of the cream-of-the-crop? Having such a badge would provide an immediate differentiator.

I first became aware of Super Lawyers a number of years ago, when I saw a special section for them in my Texas Monthly magazine.

The more controversial idea I floated in my article on trust seals is whether Google may be using or planning to use the presence of trust seals on websites as a ranking factor. I don’t have any stats as of yet which indicate for certain whether Google or other search engines could be using the trust badges for ranking.

However, I think they could easily factor in, because I think that Google is increasingly using some indicators such as the click-paths of users in determining whether webpages are relevant to search queries. Some metrics such as “Bounce Rate” may be factoring-in, and badges which are linked to related information pages on the certification service sites might well provide Google with indication that consumers are finding the presence of that info quite valuable on your website.

What’s Happening In Yellow Pages Land? Perhaps A Trifecta Merger Between AT&T, SuperMedia & Dex One

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Back in September I predicted a merger between SuperMedia and Dex One. However, there’ve since been other developments and rumors coming out of these yellow pages companies which lead me to suggest a possible “trifecta” — a three-way acquisition/merger could be in the works between AT&T’s Yellow Pages (NYSE:T), SuperMedia (NASDAQ:SPMD), and Dex One (NYSE:DEXO).

Trifecta Merger Between AT&T Interactive Yellow Pages, SuperMedia, and Dex One Corporation

These three companies operate some of the largest print and online yellow pages in the country, with AT&T Interactive operating YP.com, SuperMedia operating Superpages, and Dex One operating DexKnows. Read on for more speculation and observation on my part. (more…)

Sea Change: Google’s New Place Search Introduces New Disruption

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

So, today Google began launching their new “Place Search” feature, as reported by Greg Sterling. For those of us keeping a finger on the pulse of local search marketing, the change was not a huge surprise, since we’ve been watching the testing for quite a while and could predict in advance that it might impact some online directories and small-to-medium businesses negatively.

Place Search is Google’s name for the new interface and layout of local search listings within their regular keyword search results page. If you haven’t seen this yet, here’s a screengrab for “florists, los angeles, ca”:

Google Place Search - new local search layout

As you can see, the change involves the map moving into the right sidebar. The top local business listings which accompany the map are no longer to the right of the map, but are now integrated into the search results page and occupy roughly the same amount of room as the other listings. Those business listings which coordinate with the map have a lettered pink pushpin icon and some have thumbnail icons which come from their Place Page information. The big impact of the change is that these listings are now (more…)

Yellow Pages Opt-Out Not Working in Canada?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

On the “Yellow Pages – Opt Out requirement must end!” Facebook group, a number of members have reported that the opt-out hasn’t worked.

Yellow Pages Delivery Opt-Out Abolishment Group on Facebook

Canadian Yellow Pages Delivery Opt-Out Abolishment Group on Facebook

Frederic Bohbot’s group was primarily targeted to Montreal, aimed particularly at the Yellow Pages Group company in Canada, a.k.a. Groupe Pages Jaunes.

As you can see from one of the above entries, some of the rules surrounding opting out of yellow pages can be poorly-understood by those involved, adding to friction surrounding the issue. An apartment landlord opted-out, but was surprised to still receive deliveries, and a YPG representative explains that “due to privacy laws”, people cannot opt-out on behalf of others. Yet, it sounds as if his tenants aren’t picking up the books, so they likely end up remaining in the building’s common area, where the landlord is left with the duty of dealing with them. (more…)

“Reality TV” Is Now In Yellow Pages Billboard – Live

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

This is so inverted or reflexive or something that it’s making my mind implode when trying to describe it! The people from “Reality TV” shows (which everyone knows isn’t real at all) Big Brother and Survivor have been placed inside a giant Yellow Pages billboard (which thus is now not really a billboard anymore) and are being pitted against one another. They’ll apparently be assigned tasks to complete via Yellow Pages interfaces on smartphones, YP websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, etc. (Reported on The Ads of the World)

Yellow Pages Reality TV Billboard in Israel

Yellow Pages Reality TV Billboard in Israel

So, let me try to boil this down to the basic concept if I can: this Yellow Pages company — you know, one of those companies working hard to prove they are still relevant in the modern world — therefore, a company trying to survive – is trying to do so by taking “reality” TV stars from shows which involve survival competition games – and having them play their survival-style games inside a billboard — games which apparently will involve challenging them to try to figure out how to use the Yellow Pages products to complete their tasks — all this to prove to real people in the really-real world that YP/IYP products are not only cool, but still useful to use and worthwhile to advertise in. Whew!

This smacks somehow of irony, although I can’t parse if that’s the technically correct term to use in this case. (more…)

Idearc (Superpages) Trustee Files Lawsuit Against Verizon Over Bankruptcy

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Wow! U.S. Bank is suing Verizon for spinning-off their yellow pages unit, called “Idearc Media” after the spinoff, with too high a debt load. Idearc Media was the operator of Superpages.com, a major internet yellow pages site. U.S. Bank is the trustee for Idearc.

Verizon & Involvement in Fairpoint Communications & Idearc Bankruptcy Filings idearc media logo

For anyone who hasn’t followed the string of companies involved, here’s the super-brief overview: (more…)