YP, despite the Yellow Pages heritage still evident in its name, now regards itself as being in the same competitive set as large audience generators like Facebook and Google.
“On the national side [the competitive set is] Facebook. It’s Google. It’s any national [online] brand that a brand advertisers can spend money with,” Lewbow said. “We really are considered in that set now.”
Facing off against Facebook and Google is a daunting challenge, but Lebow contends that YP has advantages over its bigger and better known competitors, as well as its peers in the directory space.
“Unlike others who sell other people’s inventory, we’ve got this huge user base — more than 70 million users a month — that are 20 percent more likely to buy. They are lower in the purchase funnel,” Lebow explains. “People don’t go to YP to find out what’s going on. They might go to the Yahoo home page for that…People come to us because they are looking for a transaction.”
YP, which is owned by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, has steady moved away from its association with printed Yellow Pages directories, to the point where it carved out its print business into a separate company called Print Media. YP maintains its own sales force, which acts as the sales agent for the print only operation. YP also is led by an executive team that hails from industries other than Yellow Pages. Lebow comes from the radio industry and later worked at AOL.
Given all this, it’s natural to think YP might need to take a fresh look at its brand name. Lebow disagrees.
“We define this industry as connecting the consumer that wants to buy something with the advertiser. That heritage works for us today, and as long as our tools and our people are contemporary, that’s what matters,” Lebow said. “With the heritage we have and the relationships we have with our customers, the notion of a rebrand does not seem like the smartest thing to do.”
Check out the video below for the full interview with Lebow.