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‘Search Starts Here’: Global Yellow Pages Revenues Will Be Approximately 60% Digital by 2016

In a jam-packed session this morning, BIA/Kelsey senior vice presidents Charles Laughlin and Matt Booth overviewed highlights from their latest “Global Yellow Pages” report, which analyzes and projects Yellow Pages revenues. Among their key findings: Yellow Pages revenues are projected to be increasingly digital in the coming years, while print revenues are anticipated to stabilize.

BIA/Kelsey’s research indicates that global Yellow Pages revenues will be about 60% digital by 2016. While the industry has and will continue to experience significant print revenue declines between 2006-2016, the industry has and will continue to make up a total of $9.4 billion in digital growth during the same period, the firm projects.

Laughlin noted that some revenue shifts are deliberate as publishers make proactive efforts to leverage new opportunities in the digital space. He said that digital growth will pick up as operators focus on higher volume digital products like websites, as opposed to Internet Yellow Pages. By 2016, BIA/Kelsey projects that global Yellow Pages revenues overall will begin to stabilize, with digital as a larger share of the total.

The share of digital Yellow Pages revenues varies by country. Today, 22% of U.S. revenues are digital, compared to 37% in the UK, 51% in France and 60% in Sweden. By 2016, BIA/Kelsey projects that digital revenues will be 53% of total in the U.S., 68% in France, 78% in the UK and 84% in Sweden. These notable differences can be attributed to the local media environment and consumer trends in each individual country. Laughlin noted that in Sweden for example, keyword search platforms and verticals are highly utilized by consumers.

Interestingly, Laughlin also said that directory publishers are making faster inroads into digital versus other local media like newspapers, radio and television.

What factors could improve the picture for Yellow Pages revenues in the coming years? Laughlin noted several:

  • Stronger economic growth
  • Improved sales execution – moving away from selling on product and price, to selling results for advertisers
  • Execution of a product set with high lock-in with small business advertisers
  • Seizing opportunities in mobile
  • Breakthrough innovation

He also listed factors that could dampen the picture:

  • Weaker economic growth
  • Failure to fix sales force
  • Failure to execute
  • Failure to seize opportunities like mobile
  • Failure to improve/change the culture

Laughlin said that the economy aside, future growth for Yellow Pages companies was attainable and completely within their hands.

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