Expect a push towards small-business advertisers
Yellow Media will hire about 200 more employees this year and try to increase advertisers as the directories publisher continues to transform itself into a digital company.
The Montreal-based publisher of the Yellow Pages spent 2013 increasing its digital revenues and reducing debt and ended the year with net earnings of $31 million in its fourth quarter.
“If you want to find growth in revenues, you need to first find growth in your advertising base,” new chief executive Julien Billot said in an interview Thursday.
Yellow Media said digital revenues represented 45% of total revenues in the fourth quarter, up from 38% in the same period in 2012.
Billot said 20% of small- and medium-sized businesses advertise with Yellow Media, but noted that the 80% who don’t represent a big opportunity for the company.
Total advertisers stood at 276,000 as of Dec. 31, compared with 309,000 at the end of the same period last year.
Billot said he wants Yellow Pages to become a brand of choice for consumers searching for information about businesses or products on their computers, but also increasingly on smartphones and tablets.
Yellow Media competes with big search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing as well as small companies providing similar services.
Billot said he will hire 200 employees to help the company adjust to the needs of the digital market. Last year, the company also hired about 200 people, mostly engineers, to help with its digital transformation.
Yellow Media wants to increase its digital revenues to 50% but not at the “expense of killing print,” said Billot, who began his job on Jan. 1 and comes from France’s Solocal Group, an advertising and information company.
Print directories are still being used in Canada, although less so in big urban markets like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, he said.