Yellow Pages Enjoys an Optimistic Wind Blowing From Europe

eadp.jpgDirectories 2.0 was the subject of this year’s annual European Association of Directory Publishers conference on Managing Directories. In 1996, EADP was the first directory trade association to recognize the importance of electronic directories and hold a conference focused specifically on the topic. As Ana Garcia Fau, keynote speaker and CEO of Yell Publicidad of Spain, told the audience, it is interesting how the industry has evolved from viewing interactive products as competition to embracing everything about alternative delivery systems. In fact, it is this recognition (which seems to be universally accepted in Europe) that has enabled European publishers to generate higher revenues from online products and allows them to diversify their portfolio.

Ms. Garcia Fau said that in 1997 print accounted for 100 percent of her company’s directory usage. Now print is 62 percent, online is 28 percent and directory assistance is 10 percent. Another keynote speaker Cornel Riklin, CEO of European Directories, had similar percentages – 62 percent print, 23 percent online, 15 percent DA/other. Like most of the speakers, both considered Yellow Pages, broadly defined, to be growth businesses.

EADP Chairman Nikolaus Futter welcomed the 240 participants from 29 countries, while Master of Ceremonies Toon Lowette of Grid Systems skillfully managed a program that included advertising trends, UGC, blogging and local search, market research and sales and marketing. Unlike conferences in the U.S., there were virtually no discussion panels, which is easier on delegates whose first language isn’t English. However, the plentiful breaks, lengthy lunches and well-planned social events gave attendees ample opportunity to network and discuss their views on the future of the directory business.

Importantly, Marc Tellier of Yellow Pages Group said that in Canada 7 percent of all advertising is on the Internet, while 21 percent of media consumption is Internet based. He said that the current ROI of 26:1 will not be able to hold up in the future without value-based pricing. Should swimming pool contractors whose ROI is $47.83 pay the same as service stations whose ROI is only $2.01? Tellier predicted a new era in directory advertising that will be reached through an industry-wide goal of creating value for our customers.

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