Global Yellow Pages News Roundup

Scanning the global Yellow Pages industry for noteworthy recent developments:

Yell wants its customers to share videos of the “amazing things” that they can do with its economized Yellow Pages directory. The U.K.-based company calls this reformatting of its traditional product “the most significant change” in more than 40 years. Yell is using YouTube and Facebook as contest drivers by asking amateur videographers to submit their entries through these social media platforms. The winner will receive 5,000 pounds.

In Finland, a five-year battle between Eniro and Fonecta over print Yellow Pages supremacy in the Greater Helsinki and Pirkanmaa areas has finally been resolvedFonecta has purchased Eniro’s telephone directory services, meaning that as of 2011, residents of these areas will no longer receive competing (yet very similar) directories. Online brands will continue to operate separately. The net effect could be higher efficiencies for advertisers, many of which have had to choose marketing in one book or the other.

Eniro Denmark is under new leadership. Mattias Wedar has been named president of Eniro Denmark. Einar Storsul has been named Eniro’s new chief information officer, replacing Wedar. Former Eniro Denmark head Henrik Dyring is now CEO of Eniro’s chief Yellow Pages rival in Denmark, De Gule Sider (a division of European Directories).

Australian directory publisher Sensis will bypass taking part in the auction for the New Zealand Yellow Pages. Sensis was once thought to be a logical strategic buyer for Yellow Pages Group (NZ). Sensis’ owner, the Australian telecom Telstra, apparently sees higher growth potential in China and other Asian markets. YPG-NZ is currently carrying NZ$1.4 billion (about US$996 million at current exchange rates) in senior debt and has depreciated significantly from the NZ$2.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) that was paid by a private equity group to acquire it in 2007. YPG-NZ CEO Bruce Cotterill will give a featured address at BIA/Kelsey’s upcoming DMS ’10 conference in Dallas, TX.

In a recent conversation with BIA/Kelsey, Cotterill said the directory business in New Zealand has performed well through a tough economy, but its loss of value has been largely the result of bad timing. The company’s acquisition by the private equity group occurred at the peak of directory valuations. At DMS, Cotterill plans to describe the efforts YPG-NZ is making to transition the business to digital while continuing to defend print, which accounts for 85 percent of revenues. Cotterill has been especially focused on improving sales efforts. The company is in the process of increasing its sales force by 50 percent, and developing new channels for retaining and upselling smaller accounts, among other initiatives.

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