In Europe Next Week

I will be in Europe next week for business, certainly in France, in Germany and in Italy and possibly in the UK. I’m still firming up meetings and if you’d like to meet while I’m there, send me an e-mail at sprovencher AT praizedmedia.com

I will also be back in Europe, beginning of November, as I will be speaking at the first Local Social Summit in London. The event is happening on November 3rd at the [praized subtype=”small” pid=”5af504ca5d02026b527046262985199a” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] and tickets are still available. If we don’t have the chance to meet next week, we can also schedule something that first week of November as I will probably be traveling to other countries before or after the event.

Close to 50% of Qype's Traffic Comes from Germany

Just stumbled upon this interview with Andrew Hunter, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”e05a4250d652484974e47fda5bd84b6b” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]’s VP of Marketing (listed as UK country manager on Linkedin). The interview with Hunter starts at 3:35.

The VP says Qype is similar to [praized subtype=”small” pid=”fbc5d89826a49a78e7c8f39d86f90980f2″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] but that their main difference is that it’s multilingual. He says they have communities in 9 European countries plus Brazil. When asked what Qype has in common with Yelp, he says that both are strong believers in community (their main growth driver). They also have a city-by-city approach stating that cities like London, Edinburgh,  Manchester and university towns like Oxford and Cambridge love Qype immediately. He adds that their business model is similar (I discussed Qype’s and Yelp’s business model previously). Hunter says the number one benefit of Qype for users is the quality and volume of reviews.

He ends the interview by telling us Hamburg and Berlin are the largest communities on Qype, mentioning that the site has 5 million unique visitors from Germany out of 11 million total (according to their CEO, they had 9 million users in May). This is not surprising given the company was founded in Hamburg. The UK and France are the second biggest countries with 2 million unique visitors each.

Close to 50% of Qype's Traffic Comes from Germany

Just stumbled upon this interview with Andrew Hunter, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”e05a4250d652484974e47fda5bd84b6b” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]’s VP of Marketing (listed as UK country manager on Linkedin). The interview with Hunter starts at 3:35.

The VP says Qype is similar to [praized subtype=”small” pid=”fbc5d89826a49a78e7c8f39d86f90980f2″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] but that their main difference is that it’s multilingual. He says they have communities in 9 European countries plus Brazil. When asked what Qype has in common with Yelp, he says that both are strong believers in community (their main growth driver). They also have a city-by-city approach stating that cities like London, Edinburgh,  Manchester and university towns like Oxford and Cambridge love Qype immediately. He adds that their business model is similar (I discussed Qype’s and Yelp’s business model previously). Hunter says the number one benefit of Qype for users is the quality and volume of reviews.

He ends the interview by telling us Hamburg and Berlin are the largest communities on Qype, mentioning that the site has 5 million unique visitors from Germany out of 11 million total (according to their CEO, they had 9 million users in May). This is not surprising given the company was founded in Hamburg. The UK and France are the second biggest countries with 2 million unique visitors each.

Yell.com Now Accounts for 24% of Total Yell UK Revenues

(…) Paginas Amarillas, its Spanish classified directory, saw euro revenues slump by nearly 15 per cent as the number of unique advertisers fell, while overall Publicidad saw sales fall 9 per cent to €621m.

Revenues in the UK also took a hit, down 5.5 per cent to £692m, although Yell was successful in growing its internet business. Yell.com sales grew 18 per cent and now account for 24 per cent of total UK revenues. Cash flows were strong, too, helping the group meet scheduled debt and interest repayments, and management said it still has 15 per cent clearance on the tightest covenant on its £4.2bn debt pile. (…)

via Yell takes the pain – Investors Chronicle.

What it means: some data points to remember for purpose of peer comparison.  Revenues in Spain at Paginas Amarillas down 15%, revenues in the UK down 5.5%.  Online revenues at Yell.com grew 18% and now represent 24% of total Yell UK revenues.

Update: I was just reviewing the press release (.pdf) and found these other interesting data points:

  • Revenue up 8.1% to £2,397.9 million
  • Online revenue up 38% at constant exchange rates to 15% of total revenue
  • 1.6 million customers
  • “In the quarter ending 30 June 2009, we expect revenues at constant exchange rates to fall 11% and EBITDA to
    fall by around 20%.”
  • 25.9% increase in unique users in Yell.com
  • Yellowbook’s online revenues were up a spectacular 97.5% to $227.3M
  • Online revenues in Spain were up 13.4% to $50M (20% of total Spain revenues)

Analysis: "The UK iPhone Mania"

“The UK iPhone Mania” via eMarketer.

According to the first data to describe iPhone usage in the UK, from comScore, 93% of iPhone owners in the UK accessed mobile media in January 2009.

Nearly 80% of iPhone users accessed news on their phones, compared with 48% and 20% of smartphone and mobile phone users, respectively.

In addition the article mentions that nearly 55% of UK iPhone users accessed a social network site vs. 12.7% for mobile phone users.

Mini what it means: if anyone needed more proof that new smart phones are game changers from a content consumption / web usage point of view, you have the numbers now.

Kodak or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Digital

Yesterday was Kodak’s annual analyst day and the New York Times seized the opportunity to discuss the progress made in the last few years as the company transitions from a film-focused business to a digital one. In light of disappointing newspaper industry and print directory news, it’s heartening to look at the new opportunities Kodak is seeing in the market.

But to hear Mr. Faraci (Kodak’s president) tell it, the factors that are hurting newspaper publishers in the United States — the migration of advertising and readers to the Internet tops the list — are not having the same impact overseas. “Literacy is growing through the world,’’ he said, noting that it is encouraging more newspaper readership in developing countries.

And even in the United States, he said, Kodak is benefiting from the moves that some publishers are making to recoup at least some of those lost advertising dollars. He notes that The Chicago Tribune and some others are trying “microzoning” — printing several versions of the paper in the same city, each with ads aimed at a specific neighborhood. And, he said, newspapers all over are using more color.

All of that, he said, promises to yield increased sales of Kodak’s high-speed production printers — particularly of the 1,600-page-per-minute printer Kodak is about to introduce. And far more important to the company, the trend can yield a steady stream of orders for inks and other highly profitable consumables.

As Mathew Ingram says regarding the newspaper industry, “… just because newspapers aren’t doing well doesn’t mean that journalism or media or the news business itself isn’t doing well. If anything, people are searching for more and more news all the time. They’re just doing it online instead of on paper.”

Now, going back to the Yell Group news that made their stock price fall 18% this week. The Guardian has more details:

John Condron, chief executive, said the problems in the market came to light as Yell’s sales teams put together about 20 directories, out of 102 it produces across the country, to be published in January, February and March. “I think UK plc, as far as our company is concerned, came back after Christmas and took a very cautious, very conservative view of the future. We seem to have replaced the regulatory pressure on us with recessionary pressures,” he said. “But it is important that we all realise that customers are staying with us and renewing with us, they are just not increasing expenditure.” Under its current regulatory regime, Yell cannot increase Yellow Pages prices by more than inflation minus 6%, which in effect means it must cut rates every year. From April, Yell can increase rates in line with inflation. Its average planned price rise is inflation minus 1%.

Based on those explanations, I think that situation might be more cyclical (stock market nervousness, UK regulatory pressures, etc.) than structural, but it certainly serves as an early warning signal to directory publishers worldwide to get on board the digital train fast, and start re-inventing their business.

I leave the last few words to Charles Laughlin from the Kelsey Group as I fully endorse them:

Amid such a sharp sell off, it’s worth reiterating some truths about the directories business. Yes, print revenues are declining, but directories are still a highly valuable source of leads for small, local businesses. The directory industry remains hugely profitable. It seems to us that many investors got into directories based on an oversimplified story (lots of cash, visible revenue, stable customer base). And they seem to be leaving based on similar reasoning (no one uses Yellow Pages anymore, Google has made the medium obsolete, it won’t exist in five years, and so on). While search is a growing factor in local, search cannot yet replace the volume of leads available from printed directories, and it may be some time before it can. Directories will be a major player in local media for quite some time to come.

Social Networks Slowing Online Adverting Growth in the UK

(via the Financial Times)

The rise of social networking websites such as FaceBook and MySpace could bring the rapid growth of UK internet advertising down a gear this year, according to media forecasters at WPP, the marketing services group. GroupM, the umbrella forecasting group for WPP’s media buying teams, cites the increasing time that audiences are spending on such websites as one reason to anticipate a slowdown in the “warp” speed expansion of web advertising. Any deceleration in internet growth would be relative, especially compared with the sluggish state of UK broadcast and press advertising. (…)

Advertisers are interested in the fast-growing social networks but still grappling with how to market on them. The sites have fewer obvious advertising slots to sell than conventional web publishers and portals or search engines. Using techniques such as branded banners or pop-up windows to reach online networkers can appear intrusive to users primarily logged on to communicate with other individuals and share music and video clips. Networking audiences also tend to spread thinly over many different website areas and focus on their own content, such as blogs or homepages. That distinguishes them from portal audiences, which usually congregate in popular areas such as news, sport or entertainment channels, making them easier for advertisers to target.

What it means: remember my predictions for 2007? Clearly, Atomization/Deportalization and Verticalization are happening within social networks, which means that traditional online ad vehicles are not as efficient as in centralized portals. New ad models might have to be invented. A good example is the soon-to-be launched Lookery, discussed today on GigaOM. Lookery is an ad network for Facebook Apps.

CBS Buys Last.fm for $280M

(via BBC News)

CBS just picked up one of the darlings of the Web 2.0 world, Last.fm for $280M. The site “allows users to connect with other listeners with similar music tastes, to custom-build their own radio stations and to watch music video-clips. The online network was founded in the UK five years ago and it now has more than 15 million active users. As part of the deal, Last.fm’s managing team will remain in place and the site will maintain its own separate identity. ”

What it means: great acquisition by CBS as Last.fm is a very interesting site and application. Interesting also: CBS will maintain Last.fm’s separate identity. It seems like this is happening more and more when large media corporations acquire smaller Web 2.0 start-ups. The Flickr example comes to mind. I think media companies are realizing that innovation happens in smaller, tightly-knit teams.

Is Google Buying Yell?

The Kelsey Group blog reports on the various rumors surrounding Yell Group, the international directory publisher based in the UK. They mention an article in The Independent that states “the word is that the internet giant Google is favourite to buy the company”.

Kelsey adds “Such a deal has some logic to it. After all, Google clearly wants access to a massive local channel (Yell’s UK and USA businesses combined have almost 8,000 sales reps). It is unclear, however, what it would do with the print business, which represents about 90 percent of revenues, though online has been growing rapidly in the UK, and is beginning to take hold in the US. It is hard to see the cultures of Google and Yell meshing easily.”

What it means: although a Yell Group acquisition would give Google sales force and local search critical mass in the US, UK, and Spain, I seriously doubt Google would buy a directory publisher at this moment in time. Other than the YouTube purchase (which in my mind was the first large media acquisition by Google), they have focused on technology & brain power acquisitions. But I might be wrong!

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!