The Kelsey Group (TKG) just released their 2008 Local Media trends. They believe 2008 will be a pivotal year for the global Yellow Pages industry. Here are the highlights:

  • Print local media: TKG wonders if the directory business will continue to be as recession-proof as it used to be, as more ROI-driven online local ad products are launched. For large US urban areas, they also talk about the creation of print opt-out plans, important market rescoping and the launching of new directory formats. They also expect higher cannibalization of traditional media sales, mostly from search engine click packages.

  • Online local media: 2008 is the year where user-generated content becomes a critical aspect of consumers’ decision-making process. Merchants will be widely invited to join that conversation as well. In addition, auto and real estate verticals will continue to develop in the local search context, new devices will lead to new sources of searches and local search inventory will increase drastically.

  • Sales: 2008 will continue to see the uphill struggle to build independent local sales channels.

  • ROI/Performance-based products: this year, we will see the beginning of the untethering of print and online usage and more use of robust ad reporting. TKG thinks that 2008 is the year where the promise of pay-per-call gets realized as multi-channel management becomes a critical success factor.

  • Verticalization: from a seller perspective, high ad spend categories will attract lots of sales competition from many different sources: SEO/SEM firms, newspapers, vertical sites, start-ups, etc. In national sales, we will see more ad localization.

  • New products: Video, Mobile and Outdoor, with a mention that “video is where the immediate action is”.

You can find the Praized blog’s 2008 predictions here.

What it means: As a regular attendee of Kelsey Conferences, I am usually well aware of most of the local media trends but there are a couple of surprises in there for me. First, the creation of opt-out programs for print directories in some US markets. I did not realize the pressure was high on US publishers to create these mechanisms. The second one is Outdoor as a new product. I wasn’t aware that local media companies were looking actively to sell “outdoor” products. In my mind, it’s the kind of interesting opportunity that’s always discussed but is never “low-hanging fruit” enough to execute. Will be interesting to follow. I also like the call to disconnect print and online usage. TKG was the first organization to warn directory companies not to couple print and online value for too long (back in 2001-2002). What they’re saying is: there used to be a time where bundling print and online usage was useful to sell but online is now strong enough to sell on its own.

The Kelsey Group (TKG) just released their 2008 Local Media trends. They believe 2008 will be a pivotal year for the global Yellow Pages industry. Here are the highlights:

  • Print local media: TKG wonders if the directory business will continue to be as recession-proof as it used to be, as more ROI-driven online local ad products are launched. For large US urban areas, they also talk about the creation of print opt-out plans, important market rescoping and the launching of new directory formats. They also expect higher cannibalization of traditional media sales, mostly from search engine click packages.

  • Online local media: 2008 is the year where user-generated content becomes a critical aspect of consumers’ decision-making process. Merchants will be widely invited to join that conversation as well. In addition, auto and real estate verticals will continue to develop in the local search context, new devices will lead to new sources of searches and local search inventory will increase drastically.

  • Sales: 2008 will continue to see the uphill struggle to build independent local sales channels.

  • ROI/Performance-based products: this year, we will see the beginning of the untethering of print and online usage and more use of robust ad reporting. TKG thinks that 2008 is the year where the promise of pay-per-call gets realized as multi-channel management becomes a critical success factor.

  • Verticalization: from a seller perspective, high ad spend categories will attract lots of sales competition from many different sources: SEO/SEM firms, newspapers, vertical sites, start-ups, etc. In national sales, we will see more ad localization.

  • New products: Video, Mobile and Outdoor, with a mention that “video is where the immediate action is”.

You can find the Praized blog’s 2008 predictions here.

What it means: As a regular attendee of Kelsey Conferences, I am usually well aware of most of the local media trends but there are a couple of surprises in there for me. First, the creation of opt-out programs for print directories in some US markets. I did not realize the pressure was high on US publishers to create these mechanisms. The second one is Outdoor as a new product. I wasn’t aware that local media companies were looking actively to sell “outdoor” products. In my mind, it’s the kind of interesting opportunity that’s always discussed but is never “low-hanging fruit” enough to execute. Will be interesting to follow. I also like the call to disconnect print and online usage. TKG was the first organization to warn directory companies not to couple print and online value for too long (back in 2001-2002). What they’re saying is: there used to be a time where bundling print and online usage was useful to sell but online is now strong enough to sell on its own.

Pew/Internet logo

Pew Internet just released a fascinating study called “Teens and Social Media”. Teens are clearly embracing the conversational aspect of the web and are precursors to the way we will use the Internet in the future.

Highlights & data points:

  • 64% of online teens ages 12-17 have participated in one or more among a wide range of content-creating activities on the internet.
  • 39% of online teens share their own artistic creations online, such as artwork, photos, stories, or videos.
  • 33% create or work on webpages or blogs for others, including those for groups they belong to, friends, or school assignments.
  • 28% have created their own online journal or blog.
  • 27% maintain their own personal webpage.
  • 26% remix content they find online into their own creations.
  • 55% of online teens ages 12-17 have created a profile on a social networking site.
  • 47% of online teens have uploaded photos where others can see them.
  • 14% of online teens have posted videos online.

Additional insights:

  • In the midst of the digital media mix, the landline is still a lifeline for teen social life. Multi-channel teens layer each new communications opportunity on top of pre-existing channels.
  • Email continues to lose its luster among teens as texting, instant messaging, and social networking sites facilitate more frequent contact with friends.
  • Posting images and video often starts a virtual conversation. Most teens receive some feedback on the content they post online.

For more information, here’s the full report (.pdf).

What it means: more crystal-ball gazing. This net-native generation will completely change the web. Embrace these trends to be ahead of the curve.

A new Forrester report (as discussed on NewTeeVee) forecasts online video advertising spending in the U.S. will reach $7.1 billion in 2012, an incredible 72% CAGR for the next 5 years!

forrester video advertising forecast 2007-2012

NewTeeVee adds: “Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk praised the emergence of “customer-centric” ad formats like the overlays used by VideoEgg, YouTube and others, which, rather than forcing an ad in their video streams, allow viewers to decide if and when to pause a video to watch an ad.”

That same report indicates that “spending on social media (…) will grow to $6.9 billion as marketers understand how to use and measure this channel.”

What it means: every time I see reports forecasting the enormous growth of online video ads, I get the feeling that this growth will be mostly driven by the desire of current TV ecosystem stakeholders (networks, media placement firms and advertising agencies) to replicate the existing TV business model. I’m not totally convinced consumers will be well served by that new medium unless precise targeting technologies are developed. Nonetheless, I definitely expect that the two darlings of online advertising in the next five years will be online video ads and social media advertising.

Weblistic logo

I recently attended a short webinar from Weblistic, my friend Dick Larkin’s company. Weblistic helps SMEs generate more local leads from a very fragmented Web. They have not revealed too much about their secret sauce but yesterday, they showed how successful they were when search engine optimizing local video ads.

Their first assumption is that search engines are going to integrate video content within their universal search results. Google has already started to do so. Video is also a very fragmented market and opportunities to be found abound. Weblistic is placing bets on all major video sites and has created accounts at most of them. They use the “localvidsdotnet” handle on a variety of social video sites like YouTube, Yahoo Video, Guba, iFilm, and stickam. They then upload their local advertising videos and tag them with a variety of relevant keywords. Videos start appearing in the Google search engine results pages. In this example, Weblistic has managed to capture 7 of the top 10 positions for their merchant name. Cool isn’t it?

What it means: in a fragmented world, there will always be a business opportunity to defragment and simplify. The local video market is a good case study. Weblistic seems to understand that concept and is hoping to simplify Web SEO/SEM for small businesses.

As most product managers will attest, the temptation is always great to add new features when building a product. Evan Williams, Twitter’s founder, did a short presentation yesterday afternoon at the Web 2.0 Summit to talk about how we can build better products by removing features instead.

Web2Summit Evan Williams Twitter

Knowing that Williams created Blogger at Pyra Labs, he defines Twitter as a blogging application with a maximum of 140 characters and no formatting. But he says that Twitter does not compete with current blogging applications as it offers a different experience. They originally built their technology to use with an already existing ubiquitous friend status network: the SMS, and SMS basically come with a command line.

They quickly realized that the majority of people went directly to the Twitter web site, many of them using 3rd party apps built on their API. They now have hundreds of applications today because “text integrates well with everything”.

He offered additional examples of sites or technologies that kept things simple (or that should keep things simple):

  • YouTube has a 10-minute limit for uploaded videos. This definitely had a beneficial impact on the service as it created addictive, ready-for-the-web content.
  • Podcasts would certainly benefit from a time limit to become a more successful phenomenon.
  • What about a social network that limits you to 10 friends?
  • What about a dating site with only a picture and a yes/no button? (Hot or Not)
  • What about an e-mail tool where you can only have 20 messages in your inbox?
  • What about a competitor of MySpace where only college students are admitted? (Facebook)
  • What about a competitor of Yahoo with only a search box on white page? (Google)

Every time I come to San Francisco, I always count the number of billboards on highway 101 advertising pure-play .com companies.  I use it as a straw poll to measure if we’re in a bubble or not.  In 1999-2000, billboards were the way to advertise your new Internet company, almost like a vanity play.  Yesterday night, driving from SFO to downtown San Francisco, I saw many telco and hardware manufacturer billboards but I only saw one from a pure-play: video search engine Blinkx.com.

Here’s a picture of it but, according to various sources, it looks like the billboard has been up for a couple of years already.  So, no bubble for now!  ;-)

Update: the New York Times talks about a related topic, “Silicon Valley Start-Ups Awash in Dollars, Again“, this morning.  

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