Yellow sheds staff in the quest for the digital dollar

The print bell is tolling at Yellow Pages Group, which has announced it will lay off around 20 percent of its staff.

The print bell is tolling at Yellow Pages Group, which has announced it will lay off around 20 percent of its staff.

Chief executive Scott Pomeroy said the company was shifting its focus to online products, resulting in 125 job losses, primarily from the sales department.

 Competitor, NZ Post-owned Localist, last month unveiled plans to disestablish positions in sales and middle management.

The Yellow Pages directory isn't dead just yet, but Pomeroy said a "major rethink" of how the business operates made the layoffs necessary.

“We’re seeing a dramatic change in consumer usage patterns. Like many directory businesses around the world, Yellow has recognised that in order to increase value for our customers, our focus needs to be solely on transforming from a predominantly print-based directory to a sophisticated multi-channel advertising network."

He said customers wanted year-round marketing solutions rather than ad-hoc products like the old print-based model.
 
Latest statistics also support this demand for digital. In a recent study carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the New Zealand Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), online marketing in New Zealand grew by 24 percent  in 2011 to $328 million.

Pomeroy says Yellow already holds a 25 percent market share of New Zealand’s online search and directories advertising spend and is focused on increasing that further with a new stable of online products and digital services.
 
 "We are focused on becoming the number one provider of leads and digital marketing services in New Zealand, with the aim of 50 percent of our new business coming from digital within five years. We are well on our way to executing this strategy, already offering complete packages which include print, online listings, websites, videos, social media and Google Adwords marketing to our SME customers,” he said.