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?