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Truvo CEO Andrew Day said directory publishers need to generate 30 percent of total revenues from online sources relatively soon in order to have a strong business going forward. “Those who are at 10 percent to 15 percent online will find it more difficult every year,” Day said.

Truvo is currently owned by the private equity firms Apax and Cinven.

Speaking yesterday at the Yellow Pages Today conference in Zurich, Switzerland, on a panel on “driving value to shareholders,” Day made an admittedly provocative statement about the relative value of print vs. online revenues.

“Every euro that we write online creates more shareholder value than a euro we write in print,” Day said.

Later asked to amplify this comment, he explained that an online euro is still at the early stage when there is room to grow through pricing power and by increasing return on investment. A print sale, he argues, is closer to being maxed out in terms of growth potential because of the product’s maturity.

Day made clear Truvo still values print and plans to invest in print products. He says his company has “two No. 1 priorities” — print and online. He also said Truvo is increasing its investment in metered lines for print advertising because it is confident the data will tell a positive story that can be leveraged in sales efforts.

Still Day’s comment on the importance of the 30 percent threshold acknowledges the reality that top-line growth for directory publishers relies on strong Internet growth, and online will not affect the top line if 90 percent of revenues are in print. Clearly, the message is not to drive down print revenues (certainly an easy path to increasing share of online) but to find ways to accelerate online development, including through organic growth, acquisitions, partnerships and new products.

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