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Yell Group’s U.S. division, Yellow Book, has named Pat Marshall to the newly created post of “chief new media officer.” Marshall’s job in a nutshell will be to bring Yellow Book and its IYP,, into a leadership position online. Marshall will report directly to Yellow Book CEO Joe Walsh.

Marshall’s appointment lightens the load of Chief Marketing Officer Gordon Henry, who also had responsibility for Yellow Book’s digital business.

Marshall joins Yellow Book at an interesting time. The company has the closest thing to a national footprint of any U.S. publisher and the largest sales force. Its online business is growing, and its online product has improved substantially since its inception. Still, Yellow Book trails in traffic generation, and it has less experience under its belt managing a large digital operation than some of its incumbent rivals.

Marshall has a lot of experience running large online organizations within directory companies. He led Idearc Media’s (then Verizon) Superpages business for about a decade before leaving to dial down for a while and pursue consulting. Marshall served on boards, including those of AgendiZe and WebVisible, and remained a fixture at industry conferences. He told me yesterday that he wasn’t bored but wanted back in the game at a time when so much is happening.

He also expressed confidence that Yellow Book would make the commitment necessary to give the digital operation a chance at success.

“The leadership understands this is a huge growth area for the company, and they will do whatever needs to be done,” Marshall said, adding that he will add people, form partnerships and cultivate relationships as needed to get the job done.

We didn’t get too deep into what his plans are, since he stared just a week ago. But he did say that adding “Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 functionality” to was high on the priority list.

It’s clear Marshall will have a lot on his plate. It is his job to bring the online product, and the organization supporting it, up a level to compete effectively not only with other directory publishers but also with the wider competitive field online.

It is a tremendous opportunity, and Yellow Book could prove to be a real force online, as it has been in print. But it won’t be an easy task. It never is.

Yell Group announced its Q1 earnings today. I have not reviewed them yet. Here is an example of some early U.K. coverage from the Guardian newspaper. I will post a recap of Yell’s earnings later today.

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