Go Long on Traditional Media
Bob Garfield, editor at large for Advertising Age, tried hard (perhaps too hard) to entertain the audience at the recent Yellow Pages Association annual convention. It was one of those multimedia presentations where he used a combination of PowerPoint, video and humor to try to get his point across.
He claims that today media is chaotic, primarily as a result of low barriers to entry into the Internet that give everyone the same opportunity to provide entertainment, information and advertising. In his view media in general, and Yellow Pages publishers in particular, are unprepared for the Internet. The good news is that because of the huge hurdles of financing, legislation, technology, bandwidth and social issues it is likely to be 10 years before traditional media is truly negatively affected.
He told the audience that Yellow Pages publishers should look at themselves more as conduits than as publishers. In other words, they should not be wed to the printed book, but rather do business over all platforms and through all channels. He said there was bad news and good news for the Yellow Pages industry: The bad? "You are old media." The good? "There is no hurry to fix it" because no other industry has the ability to steal your customers.
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Is 10 years a "long" way away? The last 10 years have gone quickly, companies ought to be in a "hurry to fix it."
I agree. Saying 10 years means nothing. It is a little bit like the flight attendant who says "We’ll be taking off in about 20 minutes." Truth is that no one knows so act now…or never will be here before you know it.
The Yellow Pages industry will not necessarily be done in by competitiors, rather it will be a self inflicted wound. The old guard mentality of protecting revenues and "operationalizing" organizations and products are allowing others to creep into the Yellow Pages space and are quickly making themselves more relevant to consumers and advertisers. The on-line media tidal wave, the mobile revolution, and the consumer generated media tsunami are threatening to overwhelm our industry. If we are to survive, we need to be focusing on how to make our products and data relevant to both on-line and off-line consumers and advertisers. Google, Yahoo and others are anxious to win over our advertiser –this should be a wake up call.