Andrew Day, CEO of European directory publisher Truvo (formerly World Directories), took the stage with Charles Laughlin yesterday at TKG’s one-day local search summit in London. His message can be summed up in one sound byte that was repeated a few times to get the point across.
“Publishers need to see the new media upside as greater than print media downside. Anyone who doesn’t believe that will fail,” he said.
This essentially means that online product development should happen without thinking in terms of the print collateral damage it will cause or accelerate. “As soon as you believe that,” he continued, “you change the strategy around what you’re going to do.”
This followed Day’s comments at the Yellow Pages Today conference in Zurich last November that online revenues should be 30 percent or more for publishers. Given flat print growth, the thinking goes that online will drive the majority of top-line revenue growth. And this will only have a substantial impact if online reaches a certain percentage of the revenue mix. Truvo’s current percentage is about 35 percent, according to Day.
The challenge, however, is growing the online share without simply transitioning print dollars (or euros) to online. So this growth has to come from new sources of revenues and new advertisers. One of the benefits of the online product is that it has the inherent ability to create this new growth, with a lower price point and appeal to a segment of the SMBs not traditionally reached by the print product.
Offering landing pages can be another way to get new advertisers, given the portion of SMBs (about half) that don’t have Web sites. Along the lines of Webification, the opportunity here is to bring these businesses online and establish a trust relationship that is cashed in when they graduate to more substantial online advertising.
Other ways to increase online share include expanding the product mix to become more of a one-stop shop for local advertising. This includes print, online and emerging local media such as video and eventually mobile, according to Day.
So how is this done? Have online expertise internally that will allow you to think about users as much as advertisers, and content as much as sales, he said. These things will help publishers increase online revenues 3 percent to 5 percent every year.
“These things will get us to 50 percent without me losing sleep,” he said. “We should also now be thinking about how we get from 50 percent to 70 percent, and the decisions we make in the next few years will affect that.”