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Keynoting at the Yellow Pages Association Convention in San Diego today, R.H. Donnelley CEO Dave Swanson acknowledged “the worst local media environment this country has seen since the Great Depression.” But the YPA’s outgoing chairman also noted that “the will to live, in our industry, is very strong.

“We’re moving from sellers of advertising products to partners in advertiser growth,” he said. “We’re learning how to price value more accurately across a wide range of geoverticals.”

Swanson warned that solutions are “not just about innovation.” He noted a recent conversation with an RHD salesperson who complained: “ ‘We’ve spent so much time learning to build effective digital profiles, we’ve forgotten how to build print profiles.’ We cannot forget the basics,” said Swanson.

Swanson’s comments were followed by incoming Chair Chris Cummings, CEO of Marquette Group — the first time, incidentally, that the YPA has been chaired by a CMR. Cummings’ ascension is especially noteworthy given the ongoing merger talks between the YPA and the Association of Directory Marketers, a CMR organization.

“I like our space,” said Cummings. “We know what ads work. More importantly, the advertiser knows.” He added that Yellow Pages publishers have made tremendous strides in recent years to provide accurate accountability for their advertising via call measurement and other means — something newspapers and other local media generally lack.


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