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More detail has come out on Seat Pagine Gialle’s proposed sale of its foreign properties. The goal, according to an interview with Reuters, is “to shift its attention back to Italy to mine a boom in Internet use in the country instead of looking for growth abroad. That means units Telegate in Germany, Thomson Directories in Britain and Europages in France are on the auction block.” 

According to Luca Majocchi, Seat’s chief executive officer: “Only 30 percent of Italian adults used the Internet in 2006 compared with almost 50 percent in France and Britain. Just a year later, the proportion of Italian adults using the Internet jumped to 42 percent thanks to massive campaigns by Italian broadband providers. This totally changed our perspective.”  

The goal it seems is to focus Seat’s major investments in building up its online portfolio in Italy where there is now more potential to develop online products and services to create revenue growth. One major change is that Seat will be adding specially trained online sales reps to its sales ranks as a way to sell stand-alone online products to SMBs that may not be ideal print directory targets, particularly in the larger Italian cities where broadband penetration is much higher. The addition of the new online sales unit will increase the existing sales force by 10 percent. 

While Seat has been aggressive in developing its visual directory product and several specialized verticals including classifieds, this new focus certainly foreshadows more significant investment and potential acquisitions in the online space given the proceeds from selling its international properties.

All this said, the Italian online market is still developing, even with its increased broadband penetration rates. SMBs will certainly need further education on how to best utilize the new online tools and advertising opportunities, which will take time, making Seat more dependent upon larger advertisers to support its new online focus. The focus on major and key accounts (those spending more than 3,500 euros) is in keeping with its current emphasis on driving up ARPA (average revenue per advertiser) with larger and key accounts.   


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