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Last week, BIA/Kelsey issued its annual U.S. Local Media Forecast, which included our five-year view on Yellow Pages revenues. The bottom line is U.S. Yellow Pages revenues will be about $7 billion in five years. Roughly 60 percent of those revenues will be digital. Margins will be lower and the product mix driving revenue growth will be a lot different from today.

At next month’s Local Search Association “Search Starts Here” conference, my colleague Matt Booth and I will present our view of the industry’s progression over the next five years in a session called “In 2017: A Retrospective View on the Future of Local Search.” (FYI, the oxymoron is intentional.) The question “what will happen in five years?” has been asked many times before. This time, the approach to answering the question will be unique. Rather than just looking ahead, we will place ourselves five years into the future and look backward at the events that led us there.

This exercise will involve making some big assumptions. How will the economy perform? What devices will consumers rely on for local information? What game-changing local commerce models will emerge (a la daily deals) to capture SMBs’ attention and marketing spend? How will publishers respond to the challenges they face?

To keep us honest, Matt and I will be joined by a respected guest from the industry who will comment on our presentation and if needed poke holes in our reasoning. It should be a fun and enlightening half hour in Boca Raton. The session will be immediately followed by a 15-minute executive interview with search marketing entrepreneur and thought leader Chris Silver Smith, who will no doubt have his own critique of our presentation.

BIA/Kelsey has worked with the Local Search Association to develop a forward looking agenda for the April conference. We’ve put together a diverse roster of headliners and panelists from companies that include Aspen Dental, AT&T, Google, MapQuest, Search Influence, Dex One, MediaTrax, SuperMedia and Telmetrics.

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