July 25, 2003

Five years ago, no one outside (or even inside) the directory industry would have uttered the word "sexy" in the same breath as "Yellow Pages" – unless, of course, they were referring to the latest Frederick's of Hollywood ad under the Lingerie heading. So when two featured speakers at The Kelsey Group's recent Directory Driven Commerce conference (DDC2003) called the Yellow Pages the "sexiest business alive," people moved to the edge of their seats.

Both Dex Media CEO George Burnett and Morgan Stanley Vice President Costa Darras were a bit sly in their use of the "s" word (picking up on its use in a June Fortune article). Yet they were making a serious point.

As the Globe and Mail reported in a story about the July initial public offering (IPO) for Canada's Yellow Pages Group, the Yellow Pages is the financial community's new "hot and sexy." That shows just how much has changed for this industry over the last several years.

That change was evident at DDC2003, held July 21-23 in Denver, Colorado. Attendees savored the attention the global press and investment community has lavished on the industry over the past few years. Yet, many industry veterans in attendance seemed apprehensive about the real challenges facing the directory business.

Training the Yellow Pages sales force to grow print and Internet sales; proving value through syndicated research, call measurement and pay-for-performance pricing; developing successful digital directory offerings that can compete with paid local search. These were the main themes that permeated The Kelsey Group's (TKG's) Yellow Pages conference, subtitled "Achieving Lasting Growth in a Global Marketplace."

Of the roughly 350 people attending the conference, many hailed from investment banks, search companies, research firms, and Yellow Pages vendors and suppliers. All were looking to learn more about the directory business and how they can share in the industry's enviable success.

This White Paper is designed as an informal "proceedings" document for those who either did not attend the event or who did but would like a supplement to their own notes. It also offers TKG's analysis of the main themes of the event and how they relate to current developments in the industry.

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