Fear and Backslapping in Las Vegas
Greetings from the Mirage Hotel. I am sitting here staring at Steve Wynn€™s enormous signature on his new Vegas strip hotel, poring over my notes from the first general sessions at the Yellow Pages Association annual convention, halfway into its first day.
We heard a lot of cheerleading about the Yellow Pages, but much of it was backed with data and thoughtful arguments. What, if not a trade association, is going to find the glass-half-full way of viewing things?
The morning€™s basic talking points to the YP faithful were: Usage is stable; heck, even young people are using the printed Yellow Pages; investors love us; but let€™s not be complacent since we have to make sure we optimize our online opportunity if we want to succeed long term.
As an aside, could we please declare a moratorium on the whole €œevery threat is also an opportunity€ clich©?
Here are some interesting tidbits from this morning€™s speakers:
Outgoing association chair and Dex Media CEO George Burnett hinted that there may be some bumps on the path toward adopting an industry-wide syndicated usage program, which has been in development for months with the general expectation that a program would roll out this year.
In his remarks, Burnett said the industry has made €œreal progress€ on syndicated research, but added with some emphasis that a lot of work remained and that Dex was committed to making sure that €œall references regardless of platform are included.€
Later, on a panel on national Yellow Pages issues, Ketchum Directory Advertising President Gene Daly drew scattered applause when he remarked that the increasing complexity in competitive directory markets, €œpoints to the need for syndicated research,€ and expressed some fears the effort may be stalling.
Finally, also on the national panel, Kathy Geiger-Schwab of the Berry Co. made this remark, responding to a question about which competitive media are most vulnerable to a competitive attack from Yellow Pages: €œThe distraction of going after brand and direct marketing has prevented us from conducting an all-out assault on the Internet.€ Amen.