Want to Grow Print? Sell More Online

The Yellow Pages Group held a CMR summit in Toronto last week. According to the ADM Flash, "During the last three years, Yellow Pages Group has been the fastest growing publisher in the world, has the highest EBITDA, highest IYP growth, highest Internet reach and penetration and highest advertiser penetration at 41%. Half of the advertisers also buy online products. YPG has the highest customer renewal rates."

What has made YPG such an industry stalwart? Certainly part of it is the company’s very strong market position reinforced by its trademarked walking fingers logo and ownership of the words Yellow Pages. Its 90 percent market share (achieved in part through its purchase of the former SuperPages Canada business) allows it economies of scale that few other YP companies enjoy these days.

My colleague Matt Booth (vice president of TKG and program director for Interactive Local Media) paid a visit to YPG this week and verified its strong position. Matt found a marketing and sales team that had an unusually firm grasp of the Internet. "These are talented people and they really get it," Matt told me. The ADM Flash article reinforced this notion by saying that YPG "has found that advertisers who embrace online are strong prospects to add to their print program."

Ever since I've been involved with the electronic delivery of information that was previously available only in print, I have heard the concern about cannibalization of the print product. The argument has been that, yes, there may be some loss of business, but isn't it better that you're the one who is taking your company's market share rather than letting someone else do it?

YPG is giving companies in any media a strong reason to push their online business … it could lead to greater sales of the traditional media. This is a subject we will be exploring at Directory Driven Commerce 2006, September 18-20, in Los Angeles. Among our speakers will be Jean-Pascal Lion, who has recently had his responsibilities increased from marketing VP for online products to include print as well. Also, Genevieve LeBrun, who has been named vice president-marketing for the newly acquired Trader publications.

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