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Yellow Pages Group New Zealand is now the first Google AdWords Premier SME Partner in New Zealand after inking a deal last week. The partnership is designed to enhance YP NZ’s suite of digital marketing services.

“We need to transform and take our legacy print business to address customer needs in the digital environment,” CEO Scott Pomeroy told the Sunday Star-Times. In his interview, Pomeroy also said that YPG NZ is aiming for 50 percent of new business in five years’ time to come from digital.

At BIA/Kelsey’s recent DMS:11 Conference, Pomeroy discussed the idea of traditional media running a digital-first business as a separate entity and asserted YPG NZ as an “interpretive marketing services” specialist.

Last year, YPG NZ suspended its planned sale of the business, citing a satisfactory price as unattainable due to the then-current economic situation. Currently, the directory publisher is owned by a banking syndicate, Unitas Capital, based in Hong Kong but formerly known as CCMP Capital Asia, and Canada’s Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

YPG NZ has gained relief from its crushing debt burden by converting its debt to equity. That move has given the company some more freedom to pursue a strategy that it believes makes sense for the long term. Earlier this year, former CEO Bruce Cotterill resigned and Pomeroy stepped in as interim CEO, which also signaled a change in direction.

YPG NZ remains the dominant player in the New Zealand market, but competitors like Global Yellow Pages Ltd. and Localist are also devising strategies to attract the SME market.

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