DMS ’10: YPG's Marceau Stresses Innovation Over Branding

During a keynote interview on day one at DMS ’10, Yellow Pages Group (Canada) CMO Stephane Marceau embraced the discontinuous changes shaking his industry, specifically isolating vast opportunities in mobile and shopping deals for Yellow Pages providers.

Mobile proliferation is a “heavy and explosive trend” (read: not a huge risk) that Marceau said shows no signs of receding. He projects that 20 percent of business searches will soon come from mobile devices because “when consumers are looking for local stuff, the mobile smartphone is the best experience.”

If Yellow Pages publishers are to most effectively represent their local clients’ needs, then they must tap the younger, affluent users (18-34 age index) who drive mobile engagement.

As for “deal a day” and other similar online shopping opportunities, Marceau labeled them a “phenomenon” … and one that will not slow anytime soon. His assertion supports YPG’s recent integration of deals through its Red Flag Deals site, which it acquired in February. Marceau reported that 25 percent of users visit the site more than 100 times per month.

Deal a day has shifted the paradigm somewhat for YPG, taking the company to “a different place in consumer engagement.” Though the consumer experience is now richer than ever, business marketing remains YPG’s “anchor.”

While innovation is crucial to capitalize on digital opportunities, Marceau cautioned against jumping ahead of the rest of the market if profits fail to follow. YPG targets “needle movers.” This warrants prudent judgment on when and how to jump. Similarly, only so much innovation can be pushed on SMB advertisers, which largely move at the pace that is most comfortable for them.

Interestingly, Marceau also noted that the Yellow Pages brand, even as it transitions away from traditional print directories and into uncharted digital frontiers, is not necessarily fossilized in the minds of consumers. YPG was considering a naming overhaul as of one year ago, but research on brand equity revealed that YPG was the fourth most trusted brand in Canada.

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