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)
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ILM ’08: Mark Canon’s Vision for Local Media

Mark Canon, President of New Media, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”133f6afd48025ab56a05c6d6f6dace27″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], had the opening keynote on Day 1 of the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 Conference.  He shared with us his “facts on the ground”, described the cultural anthropology of traditional local media companies and tried his hand at forecasting the future in local media (always a topic I like!).

In “facts on the ground”, he offered the following:

  1. Search engines are the new browsers. This means the local media industry has to get used to paying “taxes”.  Perry would call it “owning” the third page of search.  It’s also one of the reasons why search engine optimization has become such an important notion in local media in the last 12-18 months.
  2. Usage is agnostic and context is king. We have to learn about context and accept its limitations (ex: mobile device).
  3. Information is getting smarter. Local media should own the context, not the content. It should rent the framework (work with technology companies that understand context and that worry about specifics 24/7)
  4. Publishers will sell what they don’t have (ex: [praized subtype=”small” pid=”10764fab856fb75ccc92cc5055c1997f21″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] ad network). They need to create what they need but sell what they can.  They need to manage capacity, not scarcity and they should focus on conversion.

On a cultural corporate anthropology level, he explains that directory publishers (and other traditional media firms online I would add) have been working like islands (with restricted access, a lot of editorial control and bespoke ad sales).  Currently, the activity on the Web is more like archipelagos (with aggregated data, user-generated content, more open access, and ad networks).  He foresees a future where we operate in “ecologies” (with federated data, semantic context, fluid distribution, and ad ecologies).

And, according to Canon, what does the future hold in local media?

  1. Smart contexts, smarter content
  2. Voice search and navigation (Google’s voice search on the iPhone come to my mind)
  3. Socially mediated commerce (i.e. leveraging online word-of-mouth)
  4. Dimensional consumption (i.e. personalization)

Update: Phil from Wellcomemat.com sent me this link to a video of the presentation.

What it means: one of the most insightful presentations I’ve ever heard at a Kelsey conference. I’ve known Mark since his Switchboard.com years (YellowPages.ca was running on the Switchboard platform from 1999 to 2002) and he clearly showed his experience in search and local/vertical media.  I especially like the following insights: a) adapt to the context (the Web is not Print, Mobile is not the Web) b) rent the framework (work with experts) c) build a local ad network (increase your reach!) and d) embrace socially mediated commerce (I believe word of mouth is the great local search disruptor).

ILM '08: Mark Canon's Vision for Local Media

Mark Canon, President of New Media, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”133f6afd48025ab56a05c6d6f6dace27″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], had the opening keynote on Day 1 of the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 Conference.  He shared with us his “facts on the ground”, described the cultural anthropology of traditional local media companies and tried his hand at forecasting the future in local media (always a topic I like!).

In “facts on the ground”, he offered the following:

  1. Search engines are the new browsers. This means the local media industry has to get used to paying “taxes”.  Perry would call it “owning” the third page of search.  It’s also one of the reasons why search engine optimization has become such an important notion in local media in the last 12-18 months.
  2. Usage is agnostic and context is king. We have to learn about context and accept its limitations (ex: mobile device).
  3. Information is getting smarter. Local media should own the context, not the content. It should rent the framework (work with technology companies that understand context and that worry about specifics 24/7)
  4. Publishers will sell what they don’t have (ex: [praized subtype=”small” pid=”10764fab856fb75ccc92cc5055c1997f21″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] ad network). They need to create what they need but sell what they can.  They need to manage capacity, not scarcity and they should focus on conversion.

On a cultural corporate anthropology level, he explains that directory publishers (and other traditional media firms online I would add) have been working like islands (with restricted access, a lot of editorial control and bespoke ad sales).  Currently, the activity on the Web is more like archipelagos (with aggregated data, user-generated content, more open access, and ad networks).  He foresees a future where we operate in “ecologies” (with federated data, semantic context, fluid distribution, and ad ecologies).

And, according to Canon, what does the future hold in local media?

  1. Smart contexts, smarter content
  2. Voice search and navigation (Google’s voice search on the iPhone come to my mind)
  3. Socially mediated commerce (i.e. leveraging online word-of-mouth)
  4. Dimensional consumption (i.e. personalization)

Update: Phil from Wellcomemat.com sent me this link to a video of the presentation.

What it means: one of the most insightful presentations I’ve ever heard at a Kelsey conference. I’ve known Mark since his Switchboard.com years (YellowPages.ca was running on the Switchboard platform from 1999 to 2002) and he clearly showed his experience in search and local/vertical media.  I especially like the following insights: a) adapt to the context (the Web is not Print, Mobile is not the Web) b) rent the framework (work with experts) c) build a local ad network (increase your reach!) and d) embrace socially mediated commerce (I believe word of mouth is the great local search disruptor).

ILM '08: Mark Canon's Vision for Local Media

Mark Canon, President of New Media, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”133f6afd48025ab56a05c6d6f6dace27″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], had the opening keynote on Day 1 of the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 Conference.  He shared with us his “facts on the ground”, described the cultural anthropology of traditional local media companies and tried his hand at forecasting the future in local media (always a topic I like!).

In “facts on the ground”, he offered the following:

  1. Search engines are the new browsers. This means the local media industry has to get used to paying “taxes”.  Perry would call it “owning” the third page of search.  It’s also one of the reasons why search engine optimization has become such an important notion in local media in the last 12-18 months.
  2. Usage is agnostic and context is king. We have to learn about context and accept its limitations (ex: mobile device).
  3. Information is getting smarter. Local media should own the context, not the content. It should rent the framework (work with technology companies that understand context and that worry about specifics 24/7)
  4. Publishers will sell what they don’t have (ex: [praized subtype=”small” pid=”10764fab856fb75ccc92cc5055c1997f21″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] ad network). They need to create what they need but sell what they can.  They need to manage capacity, not scarcity and they should focus on conversion.

On a cultural corporate anthropology level, he explains that directory publishers (and other traditional media firms online I would add) have been working like islands (with restricted access, a lot of editorial control and bespoke ad sales).  Currently, the activity on the Web is more like archipelagos (with aggregated data, user-generated content, more open access, and ad networks).  He foresees a future where we operate in “ecologies” (with federated data, semantic context, fluid distribution, and ad ecologies).

And, according to Canon, what does the future hold in local media?

  1. Smart contexts, smarter content
  2. Voice search and navigation (Google’s voice search on the iPhone come to my mind)
  3. Socially mediated commerce (i.e. leveraging online word-of-mouth)
  4. Dimensional consumption (i.e. personalization)

Update: Phil from Wellcomemat.com sent me this link to a video of the presentation.

What it means: one of the most insightful presentations I’ve ever heard at a Kelsey conference. I’ve known Mark since his Switchboard.com years (YellowPages.ca was running on the Switchboard platform from 1999 to 2002) and he clearly showed his experience in search and local/vertical media.  I especially like the following insights: a) adapt to the context (the Web is not Print, Mobile is not the Web) b) rent the framework (work with experts) c) build a local ad network (increase your reach!) and d) embrace socially mediated commerce (I believe word of mouth is the great local search disruptor).

Microsoft to Buy Yell?

Barron’s reports on a Reuters article this morning about a rumor that Microsoft might be interested in Yell.

What it means: Google was rumored to be buying Yell all of last year but I did not think there was a strong possibility of that happening. I think that Microsoft rumor makes more sense as Microsoft has clearly invested massively in the local search space in the last 12 months through tech acquisitions (notably Fast and TellMe). This might be the way to try to corner the local search market vis-a-vis Google.

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.

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!