Baby-Boomers and Social Media

The latest issue of The McKinsey Quarterly discusses the opportunities around “Serving aging baby boomers” and talks about the future social needs of that large demographic group.

Creating community. The need for social connections is nothing new, but loneliness will be more acute for boomers than for any past generation because they will be less able to rely on traditional sources of community. Forty-six percent of the boomers will be unmarried by 2015, compared with 40 percent of the members of the silent generation at the same age; barely half of the boomers believe they can count on their families for a safety net, as compared with 60 percent of the younger members of the silent generation; and just 30 percent attend church weekly, as opposed to nearly 40 percent of the latter. These findings imply that loneliness will afflict more than one in five boomers, who will turn to several new sources of community.

Affinity groups. Given the diminished importance of traditional sources of community, boomers’ interests are likely to play a larger role in creating social outlets. Affinity groups have always sprung up around individual pursuits, such as cooking, reading, photography, or home improvement. As tech-savvy boomers age, these groups will increasingly meet both online (regularly) and in person (periodically). Already, boomer-specific groups—such as Boomj.com, which offers a social-networking service for boomers, and Eons.com, which combines on- and offline communities—are emerging.

baby boomer

Flickr picture by Bandita

What it means: I often talk about teens and tweens’ online behaviors in this blog as a way to forecast the future but it’s important, especially for traditional media companies, not to forget this very powerful consumer demographics. According to McKinsey, “by 2015, boomers will control nearly 60% of US net wealth and account for 40% of US consumption and income.” There’s clearly an opportunity in various social vertical sites but local will play a big part in there as well.

Baby-Boomers and Social Media

The latest issue of The McKinsey Quarterly discusses the opportunities around “Serving aging baby boomers” and talks about the future social needs of that large demographic group.

Creating community. The need for social connections is nothing new, but loneliness will be more acute for boomers than for any past generation because they will be less able to rely on traditional sources of community. Forty-six percent of the boomers will be unmarried by 2015, compared with 40 percent of the members of the silent generation at the same age; barely half of the boomers believe they can count on their families for a safety net, as compared with 60 percent of the younger members of the silent generation; and just 30 percent attend church weekly, as opposed to nearly 40 percent of the latter. These findings imply that loneliness will afflict more than one in five boomers, who will turn to several new sources of community.

Affinity groups. Given the diminished importance of traditional sources of community, boomers’ interests are likely to play a larger role in creating social outlets. Affinity groups have always sprung up around individual pursuits, such as cooking, reading, photography, or home improvement. As tech-savvy boomers age, these groups will increasingly meet both online (regularly) and in person (periodically). Already, boomer-specific groups—such as Boomj.com, which offers a social-networking service for boomers, and Eons.com, which combines on- and offline communities—are emerging.

baby boomer

Flickr picture by Bandita

What it means: I often talk about teens and tweens’ online behaviors in this blog as a way to forecast the future but it’s important, especially for traditional media companies, not to forget this very powerful consumer demographics. According to McKinsey, “by 2015, boomers will control nearly 60% of US net wealth and account for 40% of US consumption and income.” There’s clearly an opportunity in various social vertical sites but local will play a big part in there as well.

The Kelsey Group’s 2008 Local Media Trends: “A Pivotal Year for the Global Yellow Pages Industry”

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’s 2008 Local Media Trends: “A Pivotal Year for the Global Yellow Pages Industry”

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.

Six Takeaways from Kelsey ILM 07

Last week, I was in Los Angeles for the latest Kelsey Conference (ILM 07). We heard presentations from many interesting speakers, most notably Jake Winebaum from RHD, Jay Herratti from Citysearch, Chamath Palihapitiya from Facebook, Stuart McKelvey from TMP, John Hanke from Google and the always interesting Jason Calacanis from Mahalo.

Kelsey ILM 07

Once again, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with many of my local search and directory industry peers, making this conference a must-attend if you’re in the local search industry. It took me the a few days to come up with takeaways from the conference, not because there weren’t any, but because they were embedded deeply in the zeitgeist of the whole conference and needed to be extracted. After a “disappointing” 2006 (as reported in this post from SES Chicago), I think we’re at a new inflexion point for the local search industry. It was almost as if every stakeholder in the room had realized that things were not as they had seemed to be and that they were being more realistic and pragmatic about online local search.

Without further ado, here are my takeaways from Kelsey ILM 07:

  1. People are finally realizing that it is very difficult to “do” local. Both advertiser and user markets are very fragmented and local initiatives do not always scale. If you’re not “native” to the local search market, the learning curve is huge.
  2. Clearly, the online local market has not been cracked yet. There is no clear winner yet and we’re still many years away from glory days.
  3. Local is going to be huge online but the various stakeholders need to work together. Players have to identify where are their core strengths and weaknesses and partner to fill the gaps (either through aggregation of technologies, content or sales). M&A should be on everyone’s mind as well. Expect a very active 2008 on that front.
  4. We heard the second reality check coming from a directory publisher in a couple of months. Time is running out and it’s now time to execute.
  5. Verticalization is starting to happen. People are realizing that there are user & advertiser differences between yellow pages headings. We might finally see some real segmentation in the industry (headings-based pricing, vertical sites, specific ad products and content, etc.) .
  6. Call-tracking/pay-per-call is now a strategic pillar of local. To solve the media fragmentation issue, this offers a unified business model to aggregate various products together and simplify the sales process.
  7. Mobile is still the holy grail of local search, coming soon, but not in 2008. Maybe 2009.

Attorney-Lawyers is a Great Directory Vertical But is it at Risk?

While browsing through this morning’s interesting web links, I found a praized-worthy combo of articles. The first one talks about lawyers advertising in business directories:

“The Yellow Pages AssociationT (YPAT) recently announced that, according to a new Attorney Advertising Perceptions Study from Wiese Research Associates, consumers have rated Yellow Pages as the most acceptable form of attorney advertising. Almost half of respondents said they would use the Yellow Pages to select an attorney if they were not familiar with or referred to a particular attorney. So, it’s no surprise the “Attorneys-Lawyers” Yellow Pages heading ranks sixth out of more than 4,000 headings and generates nearly 290 million references annually.” (via the West Virginia Record)

drive thru lawyer

The second is a letter from a reader of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune talking about their new Superpages directory:

“My new Verizon phone book arrived, and in leafing through it, I discovered that lawyering appears to be the biggest business in town. Before I even cracked the covers of the new directory, I was exposed to five attorney advertisements on the cover’s front and back and on the binding and bottom. Inside, many residential pages had ads for attorneys. And the Yellow Pages? There were 87 pages for attorneys but only 45 for restaurants and 42 for physicians.” (source: HeraldTribune.com)

What it means: this is what I call a great vertical for directory publishers: high usage and advertising revenues. But a comment from one of the lawyers interviewed in the Record makes me think this heading might come under assault by social media soon. “Most of my clients are referrals and former clients” says Charleston attorney Rusty Webb. If the web is truly becoming a big word-of-mouth machine, usage might migrate to social media in the future and this might impact revenues if publishers do not have a social media plan in place.

(Flickr picture by brookenovak)

MySpace to Launch Local and Vertical Ad Network(s)

Seen on TechCrunch this morning, MySpace is going to announce a new self-serve advertising platform today. A couple of things caught my eye:

The Local angle: “MySpace says there 23 million small and local businesses in the U.S. (citing government statistics) Only about 1 million of them advertise online, and those that do generally advertise only via search (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft). MySpace says about 10 million businesses maintain a profile on the service. The goal of the product is to give those businesses a new way to reach out to the community.”

The Vertical angle: “MySpace will also announce the completion of the first phase of another new advertising platform, “HyperTargeting by MySpace” which allows marketers to buy advertising targeted to specific interest-based segments of the MySpace audience. (…) There are around 1,000 total categories.”

I just read the release as well. Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder, adds: “MySpace is the first and only place where a small business can create a display advertising campaign and target it to their desired customer. There are 23 million small businesses in the U.S. and less than a million advertise online. SelfServe is designed for the millions of businesses that dont advertise online todaywe want to bring that new class of advertisers to MySpace.

What it means: I predict strong success reaching national advertisers (the Techcrunch article mentions that Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Ford and Taco Bell are among the first 50 advertisers quietly trialling the system) but some definite challenges reaching SMEs using self-serve. I’m not sure DeWolfe understands local but, nonetheless, local media companies currently selling Google AdWords and search engine marketing firms should be keeping an eye on that new ad network. There is a lot of inventory in MySpace and if targetting works well, it will be very valuable inventory.

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.

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.

2020:

  • 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.

Blog Network in Australia to Leverage Gawker Media’s Brands

(from The Australian)

With internet blogging on the cusp of becoming a commercial medium, a local publisher is attempting to create Australia’s first significant independent blogging network. Allure Media, which next week will launch its fourth blog since April, also has the licence to launch local versions of the Gawker Media portfolio of high-profile US blogs such as tech blog Gizmodo and celebrity gossip blog Defamer.

It is backed by the $40 million internet investment fund Netus, which is led by former Microsoft executive Daniel Petre, while News Limited (publisher of The Australian) has majority ownership. Netus operates separately from News, but the investment reflects thinking within traditional media companies that blogging is beginning to become mainstream, with some blogs attracting significant audiences and even advertising revenue.

Netus executive director Craig Blair said Allure, which started in January, would launch eight to 10 blogs in the next six months. It launched a local version of technology-in-action blog Lifehacker last week, and next week will unveil gaming blog Kotaku. (…) “For advertisers, this is a really good way of getting niche audiences. We’ll expect a business like Allure Media to break even within 12 months.”

According to Tim Hughes, former Netus executive, blogger and commercial director of HotelClub.com, advertising revenue on blogs would comprise less than 1 per cent of the $335 million online display market. “It will grow,” he said. “Great content with great readership equals the ability to monetise.” (…)

The highest profile independent local blogger making money is Melbourne-based Darren Rowse, who runs Problogger (a blog about how to make money from blogs) and a number of digital photography blogs that attract related advertising. Mr Rowse is also a co-founder of b5media with two other local bloggers. B5media, which is based in Canada after it secured $2 million in venture capital funding two years ago, has a sales team that sells advertising on nearly 250 blogs globally, organised into about 15 channels. “We contract bloggers around the world to write for us and we revenue-share with them,” MrRowse said. (…)

What it means: a couple of interesting insights. We see more and more of these blogging networks being built with the objective of reaching critical mass from a visitor, content and revenue point of view. I think it’s one of the best strategies right now to build a serious media business out of blogs. Those networks are usually managed like vertical magazines. Second, I like the fact that News Limited, a traditional print media publisher, is getting in that game via their investment fund. Smart. Third, I did not know Gawker Media licensed their brand in the world. That’s a great new revenue source!