Seat Pagine Gialle: An Overview of Their New Strategic Plan

PagineGialle_LOGO

Last Friday, the exec team at [praized subtype=”small” pid=”7a4e7f1586dc54f8f2f5f0da536a084d” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] presented their 2009-2011 plan to financial analysts. I just read through the presentation and here are the interesting highlights:

2008 Overview:

  • Difficult year 2008 for the group (total revenues are down 4.8%) but they met their ebitda guidance (nonetheless down 6.6%)
  • In Italy, print revenues were down 1.1% but online revenues were up 18.4%. Online revenues represent more than 15% of all Italian revenues.
  • Interestingly, Seat experienced explosive online revenue growth (+27%) in Q3 and Q4 2008 because of new Internet offers launched in September. I believe those new products are priority placement and SEO/SEM offers (see slide 10 of this presentation).
  • Online product gross margins (72%) are almost as high as print margins (75%)

Usage and advertiser data:

  • 22M print users
  • 11M online users
  • 500M look-ups per year (print & online)
  • 500,000 advertisers

Ongoing strategy:

  • Their main strategy: “Invest in the Italian core business and protect Seat’s strong cash flow generation to position the Group for successful refinancing of debt in 2011”. It could be summed up as “Italy and Online” + “International assets not core”.
  • 2011: they expect Internet revenues to be higher than 25% of total revenues
  • Online usage will be driven by improved functionalities, SEO and branding
  • Online revenues will grow through product innovation and new salespeople
  • Move to pay-for-performance in their voice product
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Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool; Traditional Media Advertising Still More Credible than Online Ads

Nielsen just released the results of their Nielsen Online Global Consumer Study (found via Eric Baillargeon’s blog). In it, “Nielsen (…) surveyed consumers on their attitudes toward thirteen types of advertising – from conventional newspaper and television ads to branded web sites and consumer-generated content.” Excerpts:

The Nielsen survey (…) found that while new platforms like the Internet are beginning to catch up with older media in terms of ad revenues, traditional advertising channels continue to retain the public’s trust. Ads in newspapers rank second worldwide among all media categories, at 63 percent overall, while television, magazines and radio each ranked above 50 percent. (…)

Nielsen Online Global Consumer Survey - all media

Although consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78 percent of the study’s respondents, Nielsen research found significant national and regional differences regarding this and other mediums. Word of mouth, for example, generates considerable levels of trust across much of Asia Pacific. Seven of the top ten markets that rely most on “recommendations from consumers” are in this region, including Hong Kong (93%), Taiwan (91%) and Indonesia (89%). At the other end of the global spectrum, Europeans, generally, are least likely to trust what they hear from other consumers, particularly in Denmark (62%) and Italy (64%).

The reliability of consumer opinions posted online – which rated third, at 61 percent overall – also varies throughout the world, scoring highest in North America and Asia, at 66 and 62 percent respectively. Among individual markets, web-based opinions such as Blogs are most trusted in South Korea (81%) and Taiwan (76%), while scoring lowest, at 35 percent, in Finland.

What it means: a few weeks ago, I blogged about the fact that word of mouth might actually be the biggest opportunity directory publishers have seen in the last few years given that the Web was becoming a big word of mouth machine. These numbers clearly show that i) traditional word of mouth is still the most trusted source of advertising and ii) online word of mouth is not far behind. It’s also interesting to note the differences in the various geographical areas.

SEAT Pagine Gialle’s 2008-2011 Business Plan

(via Forbes.com)

Seat Pagine Gialle SpA’s 2008-2011 business plan, due to be released on May 11, will include investments into the company’s internet activities and its international operations, chief executive Luca Majocchi said.

In an interview with Milano Finanza on Saturday, Majocchi said investments will be financed via the strong cash flow he expects from Seat PG’s activities in Italy, where also an ‘interesting’ sales growth is expected.

Majocchi said the re-engineering project at is UK unit Thomson will be brought ahead, and in Germany an internet business will be launched.

Turning to new markets, he said in that Turkey Seat is developing a joint venture with Dogan and in China it plans to reinforce its position.

In further comments, Majocchi said he expects a ‘strong growth’ of operating margin this year thanks to the absence of one-off costs for the launch of new products and organic growth in Italy.

What it means: I consider SEAT PG one of the most innovative directory publishers in the world (and they are very fun to work with!). Can’t wait to see what they have in store. Check out their 3D view of major cities in Italy (similar to what I blogged about on Monday) to get an idea of their innovations online. Click on the 3D button and select Roma to see Rome’s colosseum. Very cool!

iBegin Source: Q&A with Ahmed Farooq

About 10 days ago, iBegin released a new service called iBegin Source, “a comprehensive source of nationwide business data”. As I think this is a very innovative way of aggregating and licensing local business information, I contacted Ahmed Farooq to ask him a few questions.

Q: Can you tell the Praized blog readers about who you are and what you do?

A: I am the Director of Enthropia Inc, a web-dev firm located in Toronto. We have roughly 20 people working with us.

Q: What is iBegin Source?

A: iBegin Source is about raw business data. Buying business data is not cheap (and it is woefully inaccurate). We have made the data affordable and have coupled it with an open system (allowing for much easier updates), aiming for more accurate data.

Q: Where did the idea for iBegin Source come from?

A: It actually came as a defensive play. As we worked on iBegin City sites, we realized that we were (in essence) at the mercy of other data providers. We ended up creating our own dataset and even our own geocoder.

Q: What are the data sources for the iBegin database?

A: We seed with the usual suspects – telco records, federal/state agencies. We then supplement these with extra databases (restaurant databases, business license filings, registrations, change of addresses, other purchased databases, etc). In the first week we had roughly 50 user-submitted updates.

Q: iBegin Source could be quite disruptive. What has been the reaction so far of major local data providers like Acxiom, InfoUSA or Localeze?

A: They are watching us. Publicly they are shrugging us off, but once more and more updates come through our system, it will get interesting.

Q: I especially like the track back update mechanism, the idea that all iBegin Source partners will work together to improve the database in the long run (a la Wikipedia almost). We know how much of an issue that is in local search data. How many sites (using iBegin Source) do you think you’ll need to reach critical mass, i.e. constant improvements and best data source out there?

A: The trackback is just one element of our ‘update mechanism’. Based on a churn rate of 3 million, I believe we need 1 million updates a year (2500 a day) to blow the rest out of the water. This number is a combination of user-submissions and trackback updates.

Q: iBegin Source feels like an open source project: for example, you source content from users, the more people use it, the stronger it becomes and it’s free for non-commercial usage. Yet, it’s not structured like other open source project I know (I’m thinking of Music Brainz). Have you thought about setting up iBegin Source as a non-profit organization before launching it or in the future?

A: Data acquisition is expensive. Very expensive. iBegin Source would simply collapse on a non-profit model. The best we can do is what we have now – a free download for non-commercial usage, hopefully pushing enthusiasts and hobbyists to build interesting local sites. We also intend on award free commercial licenses to the most intriguing sites.

Q: Do you think you’ll have a hard time convincing local search partners to work with you given that you already operate a local search destination site?

A: Some people do get confused. I’m sure TrueLocal has that headache too. But what better demo of our data and what you can do with it by showing it off on our own sites? Mind you, we are only in one four cities (two of them Canadian), and in none of the major US markets.

Q: Right now, you offer data for the whole US market. What countries are next?

A: On the drawing board are Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Italy, and a few more. Estimated time of arrival is unknown at this point.

Thank you Ahmed!

iBegin Source: Q&A with Ahmed Farooq

About 10 days ago, iBegin released a new service called iBegin Source, “a comprehensive source of nationwide business data”. As I think this is a very innovative way of aggregating and licensing local business information, I contacted Ahmed Farooq to ask him a few questions.

Q: Can you tell the Praized blog readers about who you are and what you do?

A: I am the Director of Enthropia Inc, a web-dev firm located in Toronto. We have roughly 20 people working with us.

Q: What is iBegin Source?

A: iBegin Source is about raw business data. Buying business data is not cheap (and it is woefully inaccurate). We have made the data affordable and have coupled it with an open system (allowing for much easier updates), aiming for more accurate data.

Q: Where did the idea for iBegin Source come from?

A: It actually came as a defensive play. As we worked on iBegin City sites, we realized that we were (in essence) at the mercy of other data providers. We ended up creating our own dataset and even our own geocoder.

Q: What are the data sources for the iBegin database?

A: We seed with the usual suspects – telco records, federal/state agencies. We then supplement these with extra databases (restaurant databases, business license filings, registrations, change of addresses, other purchased databases, etc). In the first week we had roughly 50 user-submitted updates.

Q: iBegin Source could be quite disruptive. What has been the reaction so far of major local data providers like Acxiom, InfoUSA or Localeze?

A: They are watching us. Publicly they are shrugging us off, but once more and more updates come through our system, it will get interesting.

Q: I especially like the track back update mechanism, the idea that all iBegin Source partners will work together to improve the database in the long run (a la Wikipedia almost). We know how much of an issue that is in local search data. How many sites (using iBegin Source) do you think you’ll need to reach critical mass, i.e. constant improvements and best data source out there?

A: The trackback is just one element of our ‘update mechanism’. Based on a churn rate of 3 million, I believe we need 1 million updates a year (2500 a day) to blow the rest out of the water. This number is a combination of user-submissions and trackback updates.

Q: iBegin Source feels like an open source project: for example, you source content from users, the more people use it, the stronger it becomes and it’s free for non-commercial usage. Yet, it’s not structured like other open source project I know (I’m thinking of Music Brainz). Have you thought about setting up iBegin Source as a non-profit organization before launching it or in the future?

A: Data acquisition is expensive. Very expensive. iBegin Source would simply collapse on a non-profit model. The best we can do is what we have now – a free download for non-commercial usage, hopefully pushing enthusiasts and hobbyists to build interesting local sites. We also intend on award free commercial licenses to the most intriguing sites.

Q: Do you think you’ll have a hard time convincing local search partners to work with you given that you already operate a local search destination site?

A: Some people do get confused. I’m sure TrueLocal has that headache too. But what better demo of our data and what you can do with it by showing it off on our own sites? Mind you, we are only in one four cities (two of them Canadian), and in none of the major US markets.

Q: Right now, you offer data for the whole US market. What countries are next?

A: On the drawing board are Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Italy, and a few more. Estimated time of arrival is unknown at this point.

Thank you Ahmed!