Day 1 of the European Association of Directory and Database Publishers Congress being held in Prague, Czech Republic, was squarely focused on the pending and necessary notion of transformation. The congress was kicked off by EADP President and Mediatel CEO Kimberli Lewis. Lewis, no stranger to the industry, put forth a compelling argument that directory companies around the globe are at various stages of transformation and that the momentum is gaining as success stories become more transparent throughout the industry.
To set the stage, Julian Moore, head of media sector advisory for RBS, argued that while equity markets are on the rebound, the debt markets have not yet rebounded. As such, debt-laden media companies remain, in the eyes of investors, at risk. Furthermore, Moore posed the notion that print Yellow Pages has shifted into a quadrant that includes newspapers and magazines, which are more at risk because of both cyclical and structural conditions. That said, as many day one speakers suggested, print Yellow Pages is increasingly just one component or product of a multiproduct, multiplatform strategy.
YPA President Neg Norton followed Moore’s presentation with an “inside baseball” view of the industry. In Norton’s remarks, he noted how many of the North American publishers are pushing rapidly to reorient their sales strategy and organization from transactional to consultative. Norton offered to a few anecdotal examples where traditional print sales representatives are now behaving as media consultants offering advertisers an increased level of understanding and therefore confidence. Norton touched on the strength of the Yellow Pages franchise and the opportunities that lies ahead for publishers in North America and around the world.
Neg was followed by Gilles Clouet des Pesruches, Director of Strategy and Innovation at PagesJaunes. Pesruches outlined PagesJaunes strategy very directly — maintaining and growing its leading position in France for connecting buyers and sellers. It is focused on the “deportalization” of the strategy so that consumers or buyers can find PagesJaunes content wherever and whenever the consumer is looking — be it at PagesJaunes.com or via any of its partners’ sites. Pesruches indicated that PagesJaunes has now sold more than 18,000 videos.
He also stressed the need to figure out the next generation of mapping and how monetization will work. PagesJaunes, like companies around the world, wonders if it will be sufficient to offer immersive panoramic 3-D mapping in just the largest population centers, or will it be necessary to offer this through France? In the mobile space, PagesJaunes is not resting: 50 percent of all iPhones in France –- some 800,000 — have downloaded the Pagesjaunes applications. The company is also on deck on Samsung devices, representing the top selling smartphones in France, and is ready with an Android application. PagesJaunes remains one of the industry leaders in managing transformation.
Next up was Rick van Boekel, CEO, search engine marketing and affiliate marketing for European Directories. Van Boekel outlined a number of EDSA’s recent partnerships and deals to affirm the notion that companies around the globe are taking the transformation agenda seriously. EDSA’s recent partnering with the Netherlands company Werkspot.nl moves it into the arena that ServiceMagic in the U.S. has staked out. Werkspot.nl is essentially a reverse auction whereby consumers looking for a home trade service –- painter, plumber, roofer -– can define their job and then have qualified service providers bid on the job.
EDSA’s newest play is something called Leadcentre.nl, which will go live next week, according to van Boekel. Leadcentre.nl is a self-service platform whereby SMBs can bid for hot leads from consumers. The service will also offer merchants an easy-to-use tool for launching an e-mail campaign from the merchant to potential prospects. All the services will be paid for via the merchant’s credit card. We’ll be watching carefully as this service rolls out. There remains considerable uncertainty about the willingness of SMBs to adopt “self-service” models.
Day one ended with Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO of Kodak, taking the congress through the rebirth of Kodak. It is a compelling story of transformation. The statistic that stood out the most was that 60 percent of the current employees of Kodak had been with the company for less than four years. Hayzlett said his primary objective on a day-to-day basis is to create tension within the organization and that without the constant questioning of why and how things should be done, the company would not have made the progress it has in recent years.
Hayzlett is a big believer in the power of the social Web. He cited an example whereby Kodak named a new HD video camera using Twitter. Finally, Hayzlett suggested that every company should now have a Chief Listening Officer — CLO — to monitor, track and respond to discussions on the social Web. BIA/Kelsey has been suggesting for some time now the notion of reputation management as a key service initiative for industry players to launch.