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The traditional print directory has been under fire over the past few years, but panelists at DMS 09 feel there is new life in the print book as it moves from its stagnant 1.0 version to become more usable and consumer focused. It’s important to point out that while the perception remains that directories are dying, they are still a dominant leads source and business driver for small and medium-sized businesses. Directory revenues remain on average 80 percent of publisher’s revenues, and directories are the dominant media source driving the highest number of calls and visits.

As Michelle Sherwood, GM of marketing for Sensis put it, “we are not seeing the death spiral many have predicted for the print directory.” 

The print directory is slowly evolving into a new YP2.0 format that is more flexible and hyperlocal to address the changing needs of consumers and localized businesses. Publishers are seeking ways to make the directory access points more relevant to the local consumer.

Sherwood pointed out, “The key to relevance is offering consumers a choice on how they want to access the book or the content whether that is in the form of a local book or a smaller size directory, or one designed for use in the car. It’s a matter of getting the right book to the right people who have a desire to use the content.” 

Abram Andrzejewski, CEO of HomePages Directories, said, “directories can address the geographic needs of consumers who want localized information not easily found online since hyperlocal data might be very limited.”

Hyperlocal books seek to meet the needs of smaller geographic neighborhood or sections of cities in a way that offers true local content that builds a more intimate relationship with consumers since it delivers content such as local ordinances, profiles of local leaders, events not generally covered elsewhere and other content generated by local entities.

YP2.0 is characterized by more simplified headings that may reflect how people are searching on other forms of media such as online or mobile. In hyperlocal books, the product set is more limited and offered at a price point that reflects the distribution and a geography that makes sense to localizes businesses that may have a single location or limited trading area.

According to Andrzejewski, “larger directories in major urban markets could do the same thing by breaking down their books into more hyperlocal books and let the advertiser choose the postal codes that make sense to them and link to the communities where they are known and relevant.” 

Both panelists concluded that directory organizations need be willing to experiment and invest in their print products.

As Sherwood put it, “we need to keep investing in the product, looking for ways to innovate based on consumer research, and promote the successes of advertisers so publishers set the perception of success rather than rely on others to downplay its ability to effectively bring buyers and sellers together.”

One other key conclusion was that leads needs to be the new local media currency with the caveat that directory organizations need to be the most effective leads source if they hope to dominate. If directories fail to move on to YP2.0, they may very well continue to follow the downward path. But those that embrace the new 2.0 innovations may be those that see revitalization of their marquee product.  

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Firstly, a really useful visit for me to DMS09 – as with 08, the breadth of subjects enabled me to really get up to speed on other areas of the industry I’m not so familiar with.

    Re: Print 2.0 and hyperlocal –

    Targeting at very local levels is already with us in the UK, with specific postcodes (each around 15 homes) being targeted for delivery of relevant printed material, be they hyperlocal books or other advertising material.

    However the big advance I can see is when the “back end” delivery operations of printed directories are able to feed in to the publisher’s own systems and produce live feedback on progress of delivery, the demographics of the delivery, and other geographic data straight through to the salesforce/customer service people and also to the end customer.

    It’s not here yet but by the time the next DMS starts we should have some UK data streams up and running.

    Proof positive of the investment in print delivery (which is going to be here for some time yet!), and real-time proof of delivery at each address – so leading to potenetial savings in telephone research costs and giving customer service the ammunition they need about print deliveries in real-time. The system of course also will alert distributors as they approach any properties who have opted-out of delivery.

    I suppose that is going to be delivery 2.0…

  2. No death spiral? Aren’t directories steadily losing revenue? Actually, aren’t directories losing revenue at an increasing rate?

    Maybe we’re still too early into the spiral for some to realize what’s happening?

  3. My decision to use Local Insight Media was a TOTAL WASTE of my time and money. I will NEVER use them again. I decided to take a chance on Local Insight media and ordered ad space. My company was suppose to run in about 15 different books and on-line. I have yet to receive one call in an entire year. I am a very busy business owner but thought about this driving to a job after receiving a bill from them. I asked a friend to look my company up on the internet while I was driving. ZILTCH. I went directly to their website when I arrived at my business and did a look up.
    I am not there. I HAVE BEEN PAYING FOR MORE THAN 6 MONTHS FOR SOMETHING I DIDN’T GET. I am in no hurry to pay them.
    I know I should have looked but I am on the road most of the time and I am a one man business trying to make ends meet and have constant fires I am having to put out.

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