It was just recently announced that Yellow Pages Group have purchased two online properties to expand their online advertising products; Clear Sky Media Inc., owner of RedFlagDeals.com, PriceCanada.com and Scarlett Lounge and; acquired an ownership interest in 411 Local Search Corp. This is further proof that management at YPG are preparing for the eventual demise of their printed directory.
The Yellow Pages Group have been scrambling over the last year to battle against the plummeting advertising sales traditionally captured in their printed directories. Realizing the book is more a door stop than a reference guide, they've had no choice but to quickly develop an online strategy to remain relevant in the age of new media.
The actions of YPG are clearly reactive based on the shift in dollars from print to online. Business owners must move with caution in trusting the expertise of YPG when it comes to selling services online. In fact, they may be out and out lying to companies in their recent approach.
I've spoke with quite a number of businesses over the last two months, identifying a major confusion in the marketplace when it comes to the relationship between the Yellow Pages Group and Google. These business owners are being told by YPG sales reps that they have a "partnership" with Google. This is far from the truth.
YPG have made a "strategic agreement" with Google to resell their AdWords program. This is not a partnership, and should not be communicated as such. Any person can open their own AdWords account and manage this auction for keywords. Yellow Pages, because they have always focused on local markets, have chosen to take on this management for their clients as part of a package when selling ads in their printed directories. In my mind, this is just smoke & mirrors for YPG to come across as providing more than they are. I know for a fact that in my local market, it was only this year that the sales reps for YPG were trained on how to manage AdWords programs to add it to their selling mix. A 2-day course doesn't produce experts in the field of online marketing.
What happens in the future with YPG is still up in the air. They are very new to online marketing. My message to business owners is invest your money elsewhere in other media this year. Allow YPG some time to get their direction clear and some experience under their belt.