Archive for January 7th, 2010

It’s Here: The Internet on TV

January 7, 2010

What’s now more clear than ever is that the Internet will soon be everywhere: on mobile devices (as is already true), in cars (see Ford) and, finally, in the living room. I’ve been wanting to write something for a long time on the Internet on TV and its potential impact on cable companies. CES makes it unavoidable.

Internet content is coming to TV very quickly:

Netflix is now available directly to TV and indirectly through many set-top boxes. Microsoft in its keynote at CES last night spoke a fair amount about Internet or PC content on TV (as well as social media features of Xbox Live).

Cut to three years from now: all new TVs feature some built-in Internet capability. Those that don’t offer it can be paired with one of several set-top boxes that bring the Internet and Internet-type services to TV.

What happens to cable cos? They become the next in line to lose revenue and see subscribers abandon ship.

Most of what’s on TV is simply garbage and people are increasingly frustrated with paying $60 or more per month for it. Bundles that provide Internet, TV and phone may save subscribers because there will be huge inertia around making changes under those circumstances. In addition, unique content not otherwise available online (e.g., sports) may encourage some people to hold on to cable TV subscriptions.

It’s clear, however, that the TV is becoming just another screen that provides access to content and, increasingly, online services.

So the combination of Hulu + Netflix + YouTube, iTunes, combined with Facebook, online gaming, email, search, etc., will represent more than enough “entertainment” to satisfy most people. Goodbye cable!

The dispute between Fox and TimeWarner cable is indicative of the battles to come as everyone scrambles for more revenue. And such battles will likely fuel increasing cable bills to consumers. That in turn will only exacerbate what I’m describing.

Other thoughts . . .

Yahoo!, Samsung and others are creating widgets or apps for TV, making the approach similar to mobile.

Here’s an interesting, related story about AT&T selling local ads into U-Verse cable TV:

AT&T plans to begin offering local ad insertion opportunities for its U-verse TV service this year, a top company executive said Tuesday. The real estate will resemble what cable operators offer advertisers for local spots on cable networks they carry.

For U-verse, marketers apparently would be able to thread ads into homes in the approximate 120 markets in 21 states that the telco TV services. Large markets include Houston and Atlanta.

This is very much like Comcast, which has a large local sales force. AT&T already provides yellow pages content on U-Verse but local publishers generally should plan for the day when TV becomes a meaningful distribution medium for local (online) content and advertising.

The Internet on TV is not here in the same way that mobile is today. But it’s coming.

SuperMedia and the ‘Yellow Pages’ Brand

January 7, 2010

Given the apparent “de-emphasis” of the print yellow pages on the new company website, one of the questions I asked SuperMedia (formerly Idearc) CEO Scott Klein is how central the yellow pages are to its business going forward. He said some interesting things that both affirmed the YP part of the business and suggested the company was more aggressively diversifying as well.

“Clearly we’re turning up the heat on our online and our direct mail offerings,” said Klein. “Yellow pages will continue to be a very important piece of what we’re doing and it will be for some time to come. But we’ve made good progress on the other revenue streams.”

The company is selling three types of ad products:

  • Print directory
  • Online listings/ads/etc.
  • Direct mail

Klein made the point that the company had “re-engineered” various processes associated with its online offerings. “Our customers can now use a watch instead of a calendar,” explained Klein. He’s referring to the length of time from when an order is placed to when it goes live online

In discussing how the company thinks of itself he reiterated a point made before that SuperMedia is positioning itself as an advertising agency and not simply a YP publisher.

I asked him what would happen to the “SuperPages” brand. Klein told me it would be sticking around. Super becomes the umbrella label that ties the company’s products together.

I asked about how the “Super Guarantee” was doing. Klein said that the program had exceeded expectations and was helping drive usage.

“We’ve seen meaningful spikes in registrations and healthy improvement in possession and usage.” He said that the company uses Gallup to measure possession and usage and that in “90% of measured markets; possession and usage are up in double digits.” Klein added that call tracking numbers indicate increased call volumes from the print directory.

The “second iteration” of the Super Guarantee ad campaign will begin to air in March.

I presented Klein with the new conventional wisdom (reflected in this Financial Times piece) that print is dead, etc. and asked him were the reps seeing this attitude in the field. While he agreed that this attitude is pervasive he said that the third party research they present (e.g., Gallup) “is irrefutable.”

According to Klein the reps are incentivized (sorry) to make multi-product sales and may lead with different products in different markets and verticals. He pointed to mobile as being something that the company could sell to restaurants and its EveryCarListed auto site as a foot in the door for auto dealers that didn’t exist for the company previously.

“An unanticipated byproduct [of EveryCarListed] is we can sell them other stuff. Some of these guys that had abandoned YP are now interested,” explained Klein.

Asked about the company’s mobile performance, Klein said “All my expectations have really been exceeded.” He added that the usage frequency the company is seeing is greater on mobile than online.

I asked whether the company would be going into more verticals such as EveryCarListed or make comparable acquisitions in vertical segments. Klein said that it was “likely” that there would be additional vertical efforts and some “small acquisitions.” (There are plenty of small companies in the local segment.)

One larger question to ask is whether the “yellow pages” brand continues to be viable over time. SuperMedia isn’t using that term obviously but it’s otherwise closely linked to the print directory.

What do you think? Is it time to ditch the “yellow pages” brand?

Weather An Engaging Add for YPG

January 7, 2010

This seems like a very small thing: Yellow Pages Group Partners With The Weather Network and MeteoMedia to Provide Local Weather on YellowPages.ca . . . But it has some interesting potential to drive more frequent usage of the site.

According to the release:

Under the agreement, users searching for business listings on YellowPages.ca will experience the added benefit of receiving locally relevant weather above the map section on the search results pages.

Here’s what it looks like:

This is a nice addition. One problem: you can’t just get weather by searching “weather, Toronto” for example. I would recommend however that YPG enable people to use the site simply to do weather related searches.

These searches right now go to Weather.com (or its competitors) or in my case to Google:

I’m always surprised by how involved people are with weather and how much they’re searching for weather related information. Most recently Bob Visse from Microsoft told me this. By contrast, yellow pages are used infrequently relative to search or social networks or mobile devices:

The above chart is from comScore and TMPDM/15 Miles. What it shows is that only 3% of people use IYP sites daily. Adding content like weather has the potential to boost daily usage frequency, which would benefit IYP usage more generally.

Big Glitch Sends Wrong Info from Google LBC

January 7, 2010

Mike Blumenthal posted on a fairly significant error that happened last night and early this morning. Google reportedly sent local business stats to the wrong SMBs. In other words SMB-A received analytics for SMB-B.

Apparently this was a fairly widespread problem that Google has now caught and I assume corrected. Here’s more from SEL.


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