YPG to Integrate Canpages, Relaunch with Different UI

I got a tip the other day that Canpages was being shuttered and that “95% of its staff” were being canned, so to speak. I was unsuccessful in my effort to speak directly with YPG (which acquired Canpages in 2010 for $225 million), mainly because of scheduling challenges in getting on the phone with them.

Luckily the designated spokesperson for this issue, Yellow Media Treasurer Anne-Sophie Roy, has spoken publicly about what’s going to happen. There will be layoffs (though not at the levels cited above). This goes toward redundant personnel.

Canpages itself will be integrated with YPG and its organization. The infrastructure and the advertising products will be the same, so will the reps. However there will be a different consumer UI/UX when the Canpages product relaunches later in the year.

According to Roy (quoted in the Globe and Mail):

[The] Canpages offering will be integrated with 360 and Canpages advertisers will be offered 360 in the same way the YPG advertisers are being offered 360.

[W]e’ll relaunch it so it has a different focus and a different user experience than YPG . . .  It’s a different user experience, a different way to push the content.

Essentially the database both sites crawl will be the same, but how we push results and the structure of the search functionality at the sites.

Yellow Media is under enormous pressure because the market has dramatically discounted the value of the business (unfairly). This is large part because it sees company revenues heavily tied to print, which investors regard as on the way out.

Yellow Media has impressed me by being much more progressive than most other publishers and aggressively diversifying its business through acquisitions of digital media agencies and assets.

What should YPG/Yellow Media do with Canpages? What would you do in their situation?

  • Create a much more socially focused directory experience?
  • Try different functionality (e.g., online scheduling) or business models (e.g., more lead-based)?
  • Take a “demographic approach” (i.e., targeting younger users or moms)?

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5 Responses to “YPG to Integrate Canpages, Relaunch with Different UI”

  1. Rick Pearce says at

    Yellow Media’s stock prices are suffering due to (among other things) the market’s evaluation that YM is not going to be able to transition their market dominance and large revenue stream from print to online. The market feels 1) that YM is still too married / too dependant on their print directories, which are slowly becoming extinct, and 2) that the online playing field is too different from print for them to be able to preserve the near monopoly over search advertising that they’ve been able to maintain in Canada. This is not to say that they haven’t done an admirable job in progressively and aggressively diversifying. But due to the perception that investors have about YM’s print dependency, they obviously need to do something radical.

    You asked, “What should YPG/Yellow Media do with Canpages? What would you do in their situation?” Here’s what I would do with Canpages:

    Yellow Media holds the exclusive rights to the Yellow Pages brand in Canada, and the fact is that the weight of the brand is largely responsible for its dominant hold on advertisers (ask any of the dozens of independent directories that have ever tried to compete with them in Canada). But I think the only way they could truly utilize that position in the transition to online is to, cold turkey, cut their ties to print; no, not from their print revenues, but from the Yellow Pages branding of their print product. They should rebrand their print as Canpages and reposition the Yellow Pages brand as exclusively digital, saying, “Now Yellow Pages has moved into the new millennium – we are now exclusively an electronic search medium”. The Yellow Pages reps stop selling “360 degree” integrated marketing and focus exclusively on electronic – online, mobile, etc. (270 degrees , if you will). And their Canpages reps would sell ONLY print.

    Yes, this is radical, but it’s needed for their survival. Investors would get this. The point is, Yellow Media owns Canpages anyway, so they could channel all of their (shrinking) print revenue into a company and brand that will not bring Yellow Pages down (perceptually) with them as print dies a natural death. By completely disengaging from its dying print paradigm to total digital, the message would be that the Yellow Pages brand is now poised to dominate the electronic search world in Canada in a renewed digital body without the encumbrance of a gangrene print leg. Stock prices would immediate rise.

  2. Greg says at

    Interesting, I would have thought that the Canpages brand is a bit more versatile than “yellow pages,” which is generally associated with print. But I get the general suggestion. 

    Print is still quite useful in some circumstances but it is perceived by the “market” to be dying. So regardless of how well it is or isn’t doing that perception needs to be addressed in a vigorous way. 

  3. Rick Pearce says at

    Canpages brand IS more versatile, which is why you could have them leave the online space without much ado; while you want everyone talking about how Yellow Pages has become electronic pages only, to keep up with the times, etc. When your shares go from $17 to 17 cents you’ve got to do something drastic.

    Print is still very useful, as you say, in certain circumstances, but I’ve consulted over a dozen capital investment advisors over the past two years and frankly, they’re ALL Ivy League 30-somethings who tell me they’ve never used a print phone book. These guys are the ones who would welcome such a radical, progressive move. More of this 360% stuff is just counter-productive to Yellow Media.

  4. Greg Sterling says at

    It’s almost as though they’ve got to take some sort of “symbolic” action to convince people that they understand the perception of the market. RIM is in a similar boat and not choosing to communicate that it considers its circumstances dire.

  5. Rick Pearce says at

    Exactly.

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