AT&T YP Revs Down, YP Trade Orgs Merge

This morning AT&T announced third quarter earnings: generally very positive, especially for the iPhone-powered wireless division. But AT&T has effectively stopped saying anything publicly about its directory/yellow pages business. One has to descend deep into the speadsheets to find anything (and I’m not sure if I’ve found the correct line item):

Picture 99

Picture 100

If I’m reading it correctly, “directory” was $1.33 billion in Q3 ’08 and now is $1.16 billion in Q3 ’09. Depending on how you see it: not bad during a recession or, in the half empty version, symptomatic of the long slow decline of print yellow pages.

Separately the YPA and ADM, incumbent and independent yellow pages trade associations, announced their long-awaited merger today. This has been in the works for some time and was perhaps inevitable given the state of the YP industry. The challenge for the combined organization will be to reverse declining public and advertiser perceptions of the future of the print publication, promote YP as a true cross platform tool/utility  for both consumers and advertisers and expand YP outreach to the broader world of media and advertisers.

While all the businesses wanting to tap the YP sales for or gain YP “distribution” show up at the YPA/Kelsey YP industry events, most publishers are not present elsewhere at search and broader online ad conferences. Idearc and more recently AT&T’s Yellowpages.com are exceptions. Among the CMRs, TMPDM and its unit 15 Miles have been aggressive about presenting outside the traditional YP industry events, at search and financial institution events.

In general, in my view, the YP industry needs a brand “makeover.”

4 Responses to “AT&T YP Revs Down, YP Trade Orgs Merge”

  1. Dave Hucker Says:

    Greg….

    The apparent lower numbers is probably a function of the economy and disruptive emerging technologies that compete with yp for eyeballs.

    The yp industry is not unlike many other industries right now. Only no yellow page publisher to date has received any government #bailout money.😉 (have they courageously abstained from taking the money…or has it never been offered?)

    Someday I’m going to produce the educational documentary entitled: “A Day Without the Yellow Pages”. I may even hire the director of the underground hit: “A Day Without A Mexican” to direct it.

    Don’t worry…it’ll be funny take those hoping/wishing/expecting print YP to vanish and what would actually happen if print yellow pages did suddenly ‘disappear’.

    As always, thanks for your insight Greg…

  2. AT&T YP Revs Down, YP Trade Orgs Merge « Business Field Blog Says:

    […] If I’m reading it correctly, “directory” was $1.33 billion in Q3 ‘08 and now is $1.16 billion in Q3 ‘09.Source: Screenwerk RSS Feed […]

  3. dallasgoogleguru Says:

    Greg,

    After spending 9 years and over 3 months at Idearc, I can say with 100% confidence that they don’t need a brand makeover…. they need a business model makeover! They hired Landor and Associates to create the logo for Idearc…. same company that did Verizon. It makes absolutely zero sense! Seriously……. Idearc Media! They pretend to be an media company, they pretend to not be like AT&T but until they fix the business model it is no “Local Ad Agency”. Agencies are not publishers and publishers are not agencies. You can’t be both if you are attempting to generate the margins of a print publisher.

    I have attended just about every recent Dallas Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing association meeting…. not once have I seen a product manager from Idearc.

    Let’s look at the YouTube channels! As you and I are fully aware Google is offering big bonus points to Flickr and YouTube, yet IYP sites are selling YouTube distribution that is worthless. If a client does not have his own form of distribution he receives very little value. It is more of a marketing pitch than a ROI for the clients.

    As long as the business model focuses on SALES and more SALES, and marginalizing fulfillment you will continue to see a huge client churn. Meanwhile Google is changing things up in the local space that is going to continue taking traffic from the IYPs.

    Meanwhile, the bankruptcy has been a good thing for the them. Helps them hide how much revenue the books are losing. Trust me…. Dallas was the “best region in the country” and the books are “dropping like flies in a smoker”.

    Mike Stewart

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    I agree Mike that the margin/agency issue is a significant problem. Thanks for your insights.

    Much more to say on this topic of course.

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