Yellow Books Usage Results
Having just returned from a Yellow Book "summit" with the national ad community, it is fair to say that the national agencies are viewing the company in a new light. The reason? Yellow Book showed significant strength in the first batch of reports for Yellow Pages Market Reporter, a syndicated usage research service from Knowledge Networks/SRI.
At the CMR meeting, and in a press release issued yesterday, Yellow Book revealed data from several of the market reports released last week. You can read Yellow Book’s press release here.
While Yellow Book did not win every market, it did consistently have either a plurality of usage or a strong second position (notably Chicago). There were some notable weak spots (Yellow Book came in third in Manhattan, for example), but the general picture from the data we have seen thus far is of a competitor that is going toe-to-toe with incumbents, and in some cases besting them. This was not lost on the CMRs in attendance at the Yellow Book meeting yesterday in Orange County, California.
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Impressive results. While the imcumbents have focused on margin management, ultimately resulting in a reduction in customer service and loyalty, Yellow Book has been focused on gaining share. But will this trend continue as the telcos shed themselves of the directory companies (and thus the margin management requisite)? Will the freedom translate into market driven strategies or will the status qou be maintained? And, finally, as the market moves from print to electronic can YB compete with the likes of Yellowpages.com, SuperPages.com, or the search engines?
All good points and good questions. Yellow Book has heard investor doubts about its digital strategy, and it has come out with a new IYP product recently that my have allayed some of the concerns. Is Yellow Book in the same league as the leading IYPs? No. But it is has closed the gap a bit.
As for competing against incumbents disassociated from telecoms, this clearly makes a difference. I think ultimately, however, the print market will realign around price points more in the Yellow Book range, potentially making the business less of a cash cow than it has been. The best play for an incumbent now is to focus on investing in markets that are being measured to win back usage where it counts. If this is not a wake up call for the incumbents, I don’t know what is.