Though public (or quasi public) knowledge for several months, Verizon has formally filed to sell its yellow pages print and online directory product units, Verizon Information Services/SuperPages.com. Here’s more detail from MarketWatch.
The article speculates the sale could fetch as much as $15 billion. Private equity firms are the likely buyers. Verizon is one of top two directory properties; the other being AT&T/YellowPages.com. Verizon’s directory publishing revenue was almost $3.5 billion in 2005.
Verizon has been by far the most experimental and innovative of the US directory publishers with its online product to date, embracing PPC marketing and PPCall (including in the print directory). It has also sought to expand the product definition by integrating web search, Shopping.com, eBay listings, ratings and reviews and other content to broaden the utility and usage frequency of SuperPages.com. Indeed, the company has sought to expand out from the notion of the product as a “yellow pages” site into something more like a local shopping portal.
Verizon is one of the top local search sites today in terms of uniques. And, interestingly, mobile research firm Telephia identified Verizon SuperPages as the third highest revenue-generating downloadable mobile application for Q1. (MapQuest mobile was #1, showing the demand for local information in a mobile context.)
In addition, the company has reconceived its role, vis-à-vis local businesses, from a “yellow pages publisher” to a local marketing agency, which sells print and online yellow pages in addition to other products (including SEM). Long term this is a very smart idea on several levels. Local businesses want and need a single point of contact to online marketing and the combined online-offline offering is quite powerful.
The sale probably will give new life and energy to SuperPages and its personnel. It will be interesting to see how the potential loss of the local sales channel affects Verizon, the mother ship, over the long term.