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I've always wondered how (and why) there's hardly any data/stats showing trends in online local search. There appears to be a total lack of transparency in sharing data over who is how-big in the local search online world. Even the Internet Yellow Pages Association website hardly shows any statistical information. The last we can hear about market share of search engines/IYP's is of some obscure date in 2006. Post-2006, there's a deafening silence on how Local Search is moving as a trend.
Does Idearc's bankruptcy say anything about the hype and hoopla that surrounds Local Search in SEM world? Is it the beginning of the end of Local Search as a promise for the small businesses?
Idearc, and others such as RH Donnelly, will probably emerge stronger from Chapter 11 as they will end up with less debt (in exchange for equity bein common). The spending spree that many companies went on (at inflated prices) hurt them; in other cases is was private equity companies loading under-geared, cash rich companies with debt and then refloating them onto an all to willing stock market.
We are likely to see consolidations and fewer, stronger players emerge from the recession.
Regardless of the woes of individual comapnies, the increase in Local Search revenues continues, and there are lots of successful companies that you don't read about.
Having a client go into bankruptcy/liquidation/recievership/administration is a much bigger danger at the moment (it has always been a risk). Having had experience of this, and being much further down the food chain than banks and other secured lenders, it can be frustrating waiting for everything to resolve itself.
Hopefully we are through the worst of such filings in the economy as a whole, but the shift from print to online (and the much smaller margins that means for the Yellow Pages companies, if they can even keep those advertisers) means that there are still large structural challenges ahead for the owners of many of the big IYP's.
The realy big question remains for the big companies - what's the right offering that will reduce churn (which is hurrendous with small businesses purchasing managed online advertising), keep margins reasonable (so they can turn a profit or at least not fail whilst restructuring) and build a solid base of advertisers which supports an online model (as print will be uneconomical/unacceptable at some point in the future).
Larger debt holders stand to gain in the Chapt 11, since they'll end up owning the company. Shareholders stand to lose more, since they'll lose ownership.
What's interesting is to compare the two major YP companies, Idearc and R.H.Donnelley with AT&T yellow pages -- both Idearc and Donnelley had oversized debt loads forcing them into extremis, while AT&T YP has been kept by their corporation and is continuing to show very healthy performance.
My take is that the major print YP companies will overall continue to see weakening of the print product, and must replace those revenues with online rapidly, while whittling down the costs of the print side. Companies failing to do this will lose too much marketshare to remain competitive.
Unfortunately, the higher level of transparency and lower costs of online advertising are making trading print for online NOT a one-to-one trade -- they stand to lose more $ from print while not being able to make up for it in online.