Another YP Publisher in Chapter 11

Picture 6I had actually heard this was happening some time ago but I was reminded by this article in Crain’s New York business: Ambassador Media, publisher of Ambassador yellow pages is now in Chapter 11/bankruptcy:

The petition was filed Friday in United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The independent, private-equity-backed publisher, which does business as Ambassador Yellow Pages, was founded in 1999. It issued a Manhattan directory the following year, and now publishes directories for every borough, including two for Nassau County and a bilingual edition for the Bronx.

Ambassador was one of the first publishers to develop and implement a local SEM offering, initially using ReachLocal’s platform/service and then its own. Ambassador is now the third YP publisher that has sought bankruptcy protection.

People need to remember that bankruptcy doesn’t mean out of business, and many businesses emerge from Chapter 11, but it does illustrate the pressure the industry is under.

11 Responses to “Another YP Publisher in Chapter 11”

  1. Brian Sharwood Says:

    It’s pretty amazing that many these guys have lasted as long as they have. Our office building had a stack of YP directories in the hallway for about 2 weeks before the building manager took them away. Hard to see how anyone uses them.
    On the other hand, our customers still think being listed in a YP directory gives them some legitimacy. One said to me, “what happens if someone finds me on your site, then goes to look me up and the yellow pages and I’m not there?” Not my thinking – in fact, I think exactly the opposite – but shows the reason they’ve lasted.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    The challenge for the YP industry is to continue to reinvent sales and to make the print product sexier (PPCall) and by tying it to other media (i.e., putting URLs and short codes in ads)

  3. Brian Sharwood Says:

    The problem still comes down to print and distribution. I think less people want the physical book in their house (In Toronto they also delivered during a garbage strike, and for people like me, it was just annoying packing in in an already full blue bin). So then they end up in the SEO market, which is certainly competitive enough. It really is them or google, and most of the time I think I’ll end up picking google.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Many people will agree with you. The advantage they retain for the immediate future at least is the sales force. Most small businesses are not going to set up and manage an AdWords campaign.

  5. Todd Albright Says:

    Inertia among local businesses is YPs only advantage for now–but this changing rapidly. Plenty of companies (foremostly the search engines…and some fast ascending local advert specialists) are pushing performance-based solutions–at much lower complexity than Adwords. YPs sales and fee model can’t shift to performance-based because it won’t cover their bloated infrastructure costs. They’re stuck….while others close the gap.

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    I agree that over time the market will find “gap” solutions between DIFM and the complexity of DIY.

  7. Lloyd Says:

    I actually worked for this company and was one of the first 4 people to work in the sem side they offered. I’m not surprised to hear this, the business model was not great although the management was. They could not compete once reachlocal discontinued the partnership sometime ago.

  8. Helen Says:

    One of the fundamental challenges facing the yellow pages industry is being able to track performance. It would be interesting to have some way of being able to accurately track a “cost per call” for yellow pages type listings. Whether this would help or hurt the industry I wouldn’t try to guess, but charging for visibility with no performance tracking is a fading industry.

  9. Brian Sharwood Says:

    YPG, and most of the companies in the directory business, now track calls. Many will issue a separate number by a few companies who supply these, and track the calls made to the companies on the site. In our case, we track the calls through an ajax pop-up window which users click when they want to contact the company. It’s not perfect, but it does give us an idea, beyond simple listing page views, how much business the company is getting from our site.
    We charge the same amount no matter how many click-thrus but we’ve seen lots of other models in the market, including base rates plus call/clicks/pageviews.
    It’s a combination of pay for performance, plus the listings fees. The problem for YPG here is that as people use the books less and less, they will get caught in their own trap, and as performance decreases, so will their revenues.

  10. Greg Sterling Says:

    Helen:

    You can do that with call tracking today. Some print YPs are experimenting with a PPCall performance model in the print directory.

  11. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    If I had a local SEM/SEO business in NYC I’d be signing up their top sales reps right now.

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