The headlines from this week’s edition:
GE: The Heat on Immelt
Google: Weathering the Storm?
The Future of Fannie and Freddie
Anheuser-Busch’s Troubled Brew
This wedding tradition of something old and something new is appropriate for BusinessWeek’s leading online stories this week. GE is the something old, Google is the something new … you get it. The remainder of the saying is “And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe.” It is unclear the relative value of the silver sixpence compared with each of the companies mentioned above, but odds are its value is increasing while most of the rest of the economy is struggling.
My colleague Charles Laughlin recently asked people to complete a brief survey on Yellow Pages and the current economy. The initial results are not as negative as the media would have us believe. More than 60 percent of respondents described the state of the economy in the markets where their company sells either print or online directional media advertising as somewhat weak. When asked to choose from a list the description that most closely matches their view of the current environment, 73 percent said, “Results in ad sales are influenced more or less equally by the current economy and long-term trends like print to online migration.” Charles is going to write an Advisory on the full results shortly, and I would encourage you to give us your opinion.
The importance here is that (at least among people who filled out the questionnaire) the economy, more than long-range migration trends to online, is the primary villain for declining advertising. The Kelsey Group believes this is a significant issue both for the future of the industry and the morale of those currently in the Yellow Pages and directional media space. The industry is being killed by its incredibly heavy debt load more than any other single reason.
One of the sessions at our DMS’08: The Multiplatform Opportunity conference (formerly DDC) to be held Sept. 15-17 in Atlanta, is selling in a down economy. The outstanding panel includes Mike Boyce, SVP, general manger sales, R.H. Donnelley; Kathy Geiger-Schwab, chief strategy officer, Local Insight Media; and, Paul Plant, head of commercial development, Yell Group. Some of the issues to be discussed include how the industry can do more to sell its value to SMBs, whether the current soft economy offers an opportunity for Yellow Pages to gain market share as it has in past downturns, and does performance-based advertising change the equation this time around?
Something old, something new … is designed to bring good luck to the wedding couple, but what is the value of that silver sixpence? What is the silver lining for Yellow Pages?