Natural Search Blog


SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperDex

I was recently speculating about a possible SuperMedia – Dex One merger which could be hinted-at by the two companies cross-distribution agreement. If the two companies do merge, what might be their combined product or company brand name? Here’s a portmanteau brandname logo I came up with:

SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperMedia + Dex One = SuperDex

Actually, I since discovered that “SuperDex” is the trademarked name of a chromatography product, so that potential brand name is in-use and not available!

Perhaps some other brand name could result from the theoretic union of yellow pages companies, like “SuperKnows” or “DexMedia”. Maybe even “DexPages” or “SuperOne”!

It would probably be ultimately least expensive to keep one dominant brand name — I think Superpages has more brand equity overall, so that’s what I would vote towards.

Is Verizon Responsible for Idearc’s Bankruptcy?

Idearc's Bankruptcy Caused by Verizon?My op-ed piece, “Idearc’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Who’s Really Responsible?” published today on Search Engine Land, and in it I put forth my position that Verizon is responsible for spinning off the company with an unreasonably huge debt load, and the people ultimately paying the bill are the stockholders.

I describe in the article how Verizon spun off Idearc Media (division which publishes print phone books and operates Superpages.com among other online yellow pages), and set that company up to pay back some billions of dollars for its worth. Verizon then turned around and resold those debt instruments to other companies, fully divesting itself of ownership in the new, standalone company.

This sequence in of itself isn’t remarkable – it’s the normal process a company might go through when spinning-off part of itself to form a new company.

But, my contention is that it was done so in a highly irresponsible manner. Verizon had to know beforehand that print directory business was going into shrinkage mode, and that the debt repayment structure would simply be too much for the new company to be reasonably expected to be able to handle. If so, then this could be expected to be a form of fraudulent conveyance, and Verizon could be culpable.

Is my contention outrageous?

Well, even Idearc’s Chief Executive, Scott Klein, has been paraphrased by the Wall Street Journal as saying “Everyone was aware that ‘$9 billion was really more debt than this business could bear'”. So, Idearc was spun off with a majority of this debt from Verizon from the start – clearly set up to fail.

So far, I’ve seen maybe three different law firms filing class-action lawsuits against Idearc and its executives, based on the premise that the stock tanked due to them secretly changing policies, resulting in inflated-looking sales on the books for businesses with higher likelihoods of not paying for contracted advertising. But, I think the real culprit in all this is likely Verizon – they pushed off a part of the company with an untenable debt load, in large part to pay off debts incurred by Verizon FiOS (Verizon’s fiber optic network) expansion.

leptin

Google Maps Introduces User Review Snippets in Listings

The Google Lat Long Blog announced today that they’ve introduced little snippets of a user review with each business listing for which they have reviews data:

User Review Snippets in Google Maps
(click to enlarge)

To me, this seems like a bit of an experimental feature, since I tend to want to see a sampling of multiple reviews to try to get a balanced picture of what to expect from a business. Of course, one can click through and view multiple reviews, but why would I only want to see one sample — is there something being done to try to select the most-typical review for the business, or are they only selecting random ones? (more…)

Independent Contractors Excluded from Google Maps

My article on How To Get On Google Maps Without An Address pubbed today on Search Engine Land – it outlines one of the top most frustrating issues facing some small businessmen who need to have listings in directories without including their street addresses. Google Maps, by policy, does not display listings for those who do not have street addresses, so smaller providers who might actually provide the best quality service work are left out in the cold when users perform local searches. Independent contractors (like plumbers, electricians, building contractors, etc) are the most affected by this issue, but some other businesses are also impacted.

My perception is that this lack of what is something of a standard among traditional yellow pages directories is due to Google’s desire to provide best user-experience. In a map search display, does it make sense to display items which can’t be pinpointed to the map?

My opinion is that it does make sense to do so, (more…)

So-called Expert Claims Internet Yellow Pages “Overrated”

In the title of a transparently self-serving press release, Barry Maher claims that “online yellow pages advertising (is) often overrated”. Maher says in the release, “It may be the wave of the future, but the dull, old-fashioned, low-tech print directories are still the wave of the present. Businesses do need to be online. Just not at the expense of what’s driving in the dollars today.”

He goes on to say that “For most local companies, there’s still far, far more potential business in the print directories than in anything they might do online.”

(Before I go further, I should disclose that I work for arguably the biggest combined print and online yellow pages company in the US. My comments on this matter are merely my own opinion, though, and not any sort of official stance from my company.)

It seems to me that the headline title of the PR was intended to be controversy-provoking in order to attract more attention than an announcement about the publication of a book on how to advertise in yellow pages would otherwise be (yawn!). The intention was to promote Maher’s book on optimizing print YP ads, So, I really hesitated about rewarding this sort of thing with yet more attention than it merits. Yet, I believe that this claim is pretty irresponsible, so I’m going to address it. I don’t think that Maher can possibly understand IYP nor general internet advertising or he could not have said that “there’s… more potential business in the print directories… than… online” (paraphrased).

Read on and I’ll explain why I think this was not reasonable.

(more…)


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