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Last week BIA/Kelsey attended the EASDP congress in Brussels, a two-day event focused on the emerging social local mobile ecosystem, and how directory publishers might fit into this new landscape. The association, which represents both B2B and B2C publishers in Europe, recently re-branded itself by adding an S (for “Search”) to its name.

BIA/Kelsey is excited to be partnering with the EASDP to produce the second day of its Annual Congress, Sept. 20-21 in Toledo, Spain (near Madrid). We’ve put together a preliminary agenda that focuses heavily on the strategic and tactical decision points that media companies face as they transition to fully digital businesses. These include transforming the sales organization, making social media core to the business, building a compelling SME services bundle and finding the right business model for mobile media. In addition, BIA/Kelsey will share fresh research and analysis with a global perspective. Expect some announcements on speakers very soon.

The newly renamed European Association of Search and Database Publishing is trying to reposition itself to attract a wider range of companies as members (think local guides, social platforms, mobile ad networks and so on) while bringing back to the fold large directory organizations that have left the association in recent years and that now see themselves more as digital media companies than directory publishers.

The EASDP name change is reminiscent of the Yellow Pages Association’s decision to change its name to the Local Search Association. The lesson in any such name change is that it has to be coupled with a change in the fundamental value proposition to members and conference attendees.

It’s a tall order to change more than just its name, but the association’s recent conference in Brussels was a clear step in the right direction. The agenda, with few exceptions, seemed more like an event about SoLoMo than the directories business, with presentations on topics ranging from monetizing social interactions to building mobile shopping apps. The event also featured a start-up forum where the audience voted for their favorite among a series of European-based start-ups that gave very brief “elevator pitch” presentations.

Some highlights from the Brussels conference included:

* Closely’s Perry Evans said the idea that publishers can’t succeed in deals because they can’t deliver an audience is outdated. Today there are plenty of avenues for distributing deals and offers to consumers.

*Kelly Winters, Facebook’s product marketing manager, talked about the critical importance of authenticity in social media. She was very direct in saying that mass production of Facebook fan pages is not something the social media giant encourages, since it leads to a glut of disengaged pages.

* Koen van der Vort, of the social marketing firm Jalt in the Netherlands, shared a case study of how it mined the Twitter stream to generate review content for DeTelefoongids, the Dutch publisher (part of European Directories).

* No conference of directory publishers would be complete without at least one speaker insulting the audience. This time the culprit was Joost de Valk, founder of the Dutch SEO firm Yoast. His message, “Most of you are already dead.” A more helpful message from de Walk: In order to be a successful Web presence provider, something many publishers aspire to be, quality matters. “You are not going to be my website provider unless you are really putting forth an effort.”

* In a somewhat contrarian presentation at an event focused almost entirely on digital, Steve Sitton of the research and consulting firm Market Authority, told the audience it should invest more in its print business. Sitton, citing Market Authority’s telephone surveys conducted in the U.S. and U.K., insisted that actual print usage is far stronger than the general perception would suggest.

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