What does the Future Hold for the Directory Business? (Live @ DDC07)

Charles Laughlin, Senior Vice-President and Program Director at the Kelsey Group, presented this morning an interesting view of what society, media and the directory business will be like in 2020 compared to today.


  • Society today: we drive to and from work in gas-powered cars. We “go” online, We “consume” media.
  • Media today: mass media dominates, but user control is emerging. Media are largely priced using fixed rates, with a paradigm shift towards pay-for-performance. The Internet is still a media channel, like print, tv, or radio.
  • Directory business today: competition has created “title inflation” as we see more A-Z business directory books than ever. Print represents approximately 90% of the total revenues. Print usage is still larger than the sum of online directories and local search sites.


  • Society: we work wherever we are. When we drive, it’s hydrogen. We “live” online, media “surrounds” us.
  • Media: vertical and segmented, 100% measured and heavily performance-based. Internet is not a channel, it is the infrastructure.
  • Directory business: the number of print titles will be half of today’s number. Proliferation of specialized vertical targeted print directories, many from non-directory publishers. Print is not going away. It’s going to be more fragmented. Pricing is largely based on a multi-channel strategy, value-based, and supported by ubiquitous call measurement.

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