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Earlier this month the Kelsey program directors — Charles Laughlin, Matt Booth and Peter Krasilovsky — offered up their predictions for 2008. These predictions present Kelsey clients a partial road map for navigating what could be a stressful and challenging 2008. Most economists are now debating only the depth of a U.S.-led recession rather than the possibility of a recession. A couple of our analysts’ predictions are highlighted below.

The Kelsey Report’s Laughlin points out that the global print Yellow Pages market may experience more volatility than in previous slow growth periods. As advertisers seek to rationalize their advertising spending, they may well find many more flexible advertising solutions — read online advertising — available to them during this tightening market than in past cycles. Well-positioned online players should see an uptick in orders and demand for flexible advertising solutions that can be turned on and off quickly as dictated by the ebb and flow of the economy. Niche or specialized directory publishers could also see increased demand as advertisers seek to target their messages to more qualified audiences.

Booth, who leads our Interactive Local Media program, suggests that the terrestrial radio industry will go through a period of considerable adjustment as advertisers learn more about the “true” nature of their audiences. Radio’s newly tweaked and more improved (from a transparency point of view) listener tracking system by Arbitron will force advertisers and radio stations to rethink the ad buys. We’ve already seen a shifting of the radio landscape, as Peter Krasilovsky pointed out in this blog just a few days ago. This shift will play into the hands of cross-platform media companies that can offer advertisers a comprehensive media buy — think Google, Microsoft, eBay.

Krasilovsky, who runs Marketplaces, our newest advisory services focused on verticals and classifieds, predicts that in 2008 even more attention will be focused on key vertical categories. The Kelsey Group expects to launch a series of proprietary research initiatives to drill down into the shifting advertising budgets of key players within specific vertical markets. As consumers seek out better and better information, in many cases only tightly defined vertical sites will be able to offer the depth of buying information, which will transition an increasingly nervous shopper into a bona fide buyer.

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