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The ADP Annual Convention and Partners Trade Show kicked off officially this morning with presentations by outgoing ADP Chair Jim Hail of Hagadone Directories and President Larry Angove. The tone was much less adversarial toward incumbent publishers than it has been in the past, tracing primarily to the growth of independents.

Hail's major message is that technology is the future of the Yellow Pages industry. He cited Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in saying that the Internet is a disruptive technology and that "we cannot survive the future if we continue to take wait-and-see attitudes about new technologies." At a 1999 Kelsey Group conference titled "New Technologies for Directory Publishers," we featured a film clip of Christensen discussing his now-famous comment about disruptive innovation as the mechanism by which industries are formed.

I applaud Hail for encouraging ADP members to get on the bandwagon. But I think if he looks around, he'll see that most of them are already there.

For instance, yesterday United Yellow Pages Local and Metro Directories Local both embraced Innovectra's local consumer search and advertiser pay-for-call platform capability called LeadStream. It led me to wonder whether Hail was trying to convince his own company to step up its Internet activities.

In his presentation, Angove told the audience that the percentage growth in national is equal to local growth for his members for the first time. He enthusiastically supported the CMR Gateway built by Taylor Treese's MediaTraks Global and talked about the very strong acceptance among CMRs at the recent ADM road show. Angove also said the syndicated research project "is one of the best things that has ever happened for independent publishers." Burt Michaels of Knowledge Networks/SRI provided some of the results (appropriately skewed to his audience) and said the number of participating companies has grown from 10 in 2005 to 26 in 2006. No one has dropped out of the research program, and 15 of the 16 new companies are independent publishers.

Finally, this is a very professionally run event, indicating the continued maturation of the independent Yellow Pages publishers sector.

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