Sensis and the australian search and directories market 2008
Following Aussie Startups and Tech Trends Discovering the next generation of startups, innovation & tech trends in Australia Home Aussie Startups List Analysis Interviews Blog Advertise Contact Find GoSensis and the Australian Search and Directories Market Site Sponsors: Subscribe Vishal Sharma Monday, April 14, 2008 2008 , Analysis , Australia , Online Search and Directory , Report , Subscribe via RSSSensis , Technology Subscribe via RSS! People Search-Background: Search Free Find People, Phone or, Subscribe via email: Numbers, Addresses,I have undertaken this report to explore, learn and analyse the local online search and Enter your email Go Records & More!directories market to understand the developments that are taking place in this area. USSearch.comThere are more than 18 players, from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to largecorporations trying to get some share of this market. Online MediaThe main focus of this report is on Sensis and its competitors and how it can reinvent itself Directory Follow Us on Twitterin a rapidly changing local market. 1.4 Million Records. Follow us on Twitter Build Media Lists and Australian Startups Carnival 2008Note: This report can be downloaded as a PDF from here. More. Take a Demo! www.vocus.com Summary - Australian Startups Carnival 2008Introduction: White Pages - Following Startups & Tech Trends Search FreeAustralia’s online search and directories market is rapidly growing and to this date there Current Phone,are 18 players in this market segment, worth $235 million as reported last year (2007). It Address, Age & More. ApartmentReviews - Australiasis expected to reach to $532 million by 2010. Sensis, (owned by Telstra) is a dominant Search by Name-Cell Largest Dedicated Apartmentplayer in directories market and Google in search. Phone-SSN-More. Resource www.PeopleLookup.com - Saturday, April 25, 2009The online search market only represents a portion of the much larger local onlineadvertising market. The local online advertising market is growing steadily and will reach infome - Find Anything Nearby Free People Searchthe predicted $1.4 billion for the full calendar year 2008. It is forecasted to be worth from your Mobile Get Phone, Address,AU$1.8 billion by end-2011, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29 - Thursday, April 23, 2009 Email, Age, Photosper cent (2007-2011). and More. All for Free! spokeo.com/Free.White.PagesOnline advertising can be classified into four areas, those being: Mogeneration - Mobile 2.0 Web & iPhone Development House Search Learn Jim Cramers - Tuesday, April 21, 2009 Directories Secret Up 31% in 2009,
Classified Front Foot- Media Solutions for General Display Mobile Phone and Internet - Saturday, April 11, 2009In terms of local market share, the percentage breakdown of various players in eachcategory is shown below. Debenu - Document ManagementNote: This data is collected from BRW article published in 2007, requires online Tools for your Desktopsubscription, Details: Foad Fadaghi, “Australia Online,” Australian Financial Review, Feb 22, - Monday, April 06, 20092007. [Online]. Available: http://www.afr.com.au. [Accessed: April. 02, 2008] Archive April 2009 (5)Search: March 2009 (5) February 2009 (1) December 2008 (1) October 2008 (1) September 2008 (13) August 2008 (27) July 2008 (9) June 2008 (16) May 2008 (3) April 2008 (7) March 2008 (44) February 2008 (9) April 2007 (1) Download CopyrightDirectories: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.
Top 10 Industries advertising onlineNow lets look at the top 10 industries spending money on online advertising. Following arethe leaders in descending order: Finance Computers & Communications Motor Vehicles Travel/Accommodation Entertainment & Leisure Media Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Real Estate Retail GovernmentNote: This data for top 10 categories is collected from the report published byPricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and is available at the Interactive Advertising BureauAustralia website and the recent one is here.Local Online Search & Directory ListingThe Local online search and directory listing area is becoming fiercely competitive, wherebythere are 18 players (probably more) eyeing a market worth $254 million, tipped to reachto $532 million by 2010.Following are the 18 players listed below: 1. AussieWeb Local Search 2. ClickFind 3. dLook 4. Docoloco 5. HotFrog 6. Google Maps 7. Local Search Solutions 8. Nook 9. NineMSN - My Local10. Phone Book11. Rave About It12. RAYV13. Yellow (Sensis, formerly YellowPages)14. True Local
15. Vouchorgrouch16. Womow17. WhitePages (Sensis)18. Yahoo!719. ReachLocalLets explore these 18 players and see what are their offerings, revenue models andtechnology stacks and how they are positioned for the future.1. AussieWeb Local SearchWebsite: www.aussieweb.com.auWhos behind it: Monte HuebschLaunched: 1996Based in: BrisbaneService: Online business directory thatcharges no fees (free) to list productsand services. Allow you to send freeSMS to your mobile for the searchedlisting (Partnered with BeaMe.Info).No of business listed: Over 1.2 millionTop 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue Model: Contextual advertising (Google AdSense), display banner advertising andWe Call You NowTechnology Stack: .NETOnline Map Integration: Google Maps2. ClickfindWebsite: www.clickfind.com.auWhos behind it: Carolyn King, Taco FleurLaunched: December 2007Based in: BrisbaneService: Online business directory that charges a monthly fee tobusinesses who list their products and services.No of business listed/reviewed: less than 5,000Top 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue Model: Flat subscription rate/feeMobile Version: NoTechnology Stack: Windows & Cold FusionOnline Map Integration: Google Maps3. DocolocoWebsite: www.docoloco.comWhos behind it: Chris Mander and Johnny CussenLaunched: May 2007Based in: MelbourneService: is a community powered online recommendationengine that helps locals find, share and follow the bestlocal businesses.
No of business listed/reviewed: Around 1,000Top 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue Model: By offering small business marketing and analytics products.Mobile Version: No (Calls can be made online via skype)Technology Stack: LAMP (without P) & ROROnline Map Integration: Google Maps4. dLookWebsite: www.dlook.com.auWhos behind it: Meg TsiamisLaunched: April 2006Based in: SydneyService: Online business directory with online advertisingsolution. It accepts both free and premium listings andoffers functionality rarely found together on otherdirectories.No of business listed/reviewed: 1.4 millionTop 3 industry wide categories: Medical, Real estate, TradesRevenue Model: Premium listings, Contextual advertising (Google AdSense) and display(banner) advertising.Mobile Version: YesTechnology Stack: LAMPOnline Map Integration: Terra Pages5. Google MapsWebsite: http://maps.google.com.auWhos behind it: GoogleLaunched: 2006 (Australia)Based in: SydneyService: Directory listing and search servicesNo of business listed: 1.3 Million+, since the majority ofbusinesses in the index are sourced from TrueLocal, they arebuilding up their own database of listings which will be free.Top 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue Model: Contextual Advertising (Adsense, Adwords)Mobile Version: YesTechnology Stack: LAMPOnline Map Integration: Yes6. Hot FrogWebsite: www.hotfrog.com.auWhos behind it: Owned and operated by the Reed Elsevier.Launched: May 2005Based in: SydneyService: Directory listing and search servicesNo of business listed/reviewed: Over 1.1 millionTop 3 industry wide categories: Business Services, CarRepairs Services, Real Estate.Revenue Model: Premium listing, Banner Advertising, Contextual Advertising (Google
Adwords)Mobile Version: NoTechnology Stack: .Net, AJAX, UnicodeOnline Map Integration: Google Maps7. Local Search SolutionsWebsite: www.localsearchsolutions.com.auWhos behind it: LSS is a privately funded company, (True Local formerly known asAustralian Local Search was created by LSS before it was sold to News Limited)Launched: 2005Based in: SydneyService: LSS provides venture incubation and accelerationservices and focuses on the internet search and interactivemedia sectors.No of business listed: N/ATop 3 industry wide categories:Revenue Model: N/AMobile Version : N/ATechnology Stack :N/AOnline Map Integration: N/A8. NookWebsite: www.nook.com.auWhos behind it: Feedcorp/Leader Newspapers (Victoriancommunity publication arm of News Limited)Launched: December 2006Based in: MelbourneService: service targeted for Victorian users - local searchmeets, blogs meets community newspaperNo of business listed/reviewed: N/ATop 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue Model: Free service to dateMobile Version: NoTechnology Stack: Wordpress and LAMPOnline Map Integration: No9. NineMSN - MyLocalWebsite: mylocal.ninemsn.com.auWhos behind it: NinemsnLaunched: April 2006Based in: SydneyService: Online business directory which provides bothfree (via Yellow Pages) and premium listings. Allows usersto send the local contact information directly to theirmobile phone but they must complete a free registrationprocess. Acxiom initially powered their service, but now Sensis is providing the data.No of business listed: 2 million (via Yellow Pages)Top 3 industry wide categories: Restaurants,Car,Accommodation (Real Estate)Revenue Model: Premium Listing and Display (banner) advertising.
Mobile Version: YesTechnology Stack: .NET (Windows)Online Map Integration: Yes, MapData Sciences10. PhoneBookWebsite: www.phonebook.com.auWhos behind it: Owned by Ansearch (CEO,Dean Jones)Launched: 2005Based in: N/AService: online business directory that charges no fees(free) to list products and services.No of business listed: Not sure (Data is supplied by AussieWeb Local Search)Top 3 industry wide categories:Revenue Model: Premium Listings, Contextual Advertising (Yahoo)Mobile Version: NoTechnology Stack: N/AOnline Map Integration: N/A11. Rave About ItWebsite: www.raveaboutit.com.auWhos behind it: Mark Rimmer and Tim GriffinLaunched: November 2006Based in: SydneyService: provide an enjoyable way in which users can search,rate and discuss what they think of services in their local areaand beyond. It is like word of mouth, but online, as this is themost accurate representation of how well a business servicestheir customers.No of business listed/reviewed: N/ATop 3 industry wide categories: Hair and Beauty Salon industryRevenue Model: Contextual advertising (Google AdSense) and display (banner) advertisingMobile Version: NoTechnology Stack: LAMPOnline Map Integration: Google Maps12. RAYVWebsite: www.rayv.com.auWhos behind it: Founded by Anil SabharwalLaunched: January 2008Based in: Sydney, AustraliaService: Online Business Directory with ReviewsNo of business listed: 70,000+ in SydneyTop 3 industry wide categories: Restaurants &Nightlife,Beauty & Spas,Arts & EntertainmentRevenue Model: Businesses pay for enhanced listings,sponsored search results, to be featured on the homepage,etc.Mobile Version - Launching in winter 08
Technology Stack: JEE (J2EE)Online Map Integration: Google Maps13. TrueLocalWebsite: www.truelocal.com.auWhos behind it: News Digital Media (NDM) and partner with News Corp.Launched: January 2006Based in: Sydney (head office)Service: Online business directory which provides both free and priority listings and with areviewing feature. It also powers both Yahoo7! and Google (for Google Maps in Australia)!No. of business listed: 1.3 millionTop 3 industry wide categories:Revenue Model: Priority/Premium listing, contextual advertising (Google) banneradvertisingMobile Version – Yes (only available via 3 network and subscription required)Technology Stack: JEE (J2EE)Online Map Integration: Google Maps (Integration with Navman GPS Systems)14. Vouch or GrouchWebsite: www.vouchorgrouch.com.auWhos behind it: Aaron HarwoodLaunched: May 2007Based: BrisbaneService: a community driven business listing web site.Enables search for businesses and services using keywordsand locations.No of business listed/reviewed: less than 100Top 3 industry wide categories: Restaurants, AdvertisingRevenue Model: Premium ListingMobile Version: NoTechnology Stack: LAMPOnline Map Integration: No15. WomowWebsite: www.womow.com.auWhos behind it: Fiona Adler and Brad BondLaunched: July 2007Based in: MelbourneService: is an online business directoryof word-of-mouth recommendations tohelp people find the best localbusinesses. All businesses are enteredand rated by users who describe their experience, including what they particularly liked ordidn’t like about the business.No of business listed: 6500Top 3 industry wide categories: Restaurants, Cafes & Bars,Shopping & hobbies,Health &MedicalRevenue: Optimised and Premium Listing.Mobile Version: No
Technology Stack: LAMPOnline Map Integration: Google Maps16. Yahoo7!Website: au.yahoo.comWhos behind it: Yahoo (Aus & NZ) and Seven Network (Channel 7) joint ventureLaunched: Not sureBased in: SydneyService: online business directory which provides both freeand priority listingsNo of business listed: 1.3 Million, since it is powered byTrueLocalTop 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue Model: Priority Listing/Sponsored ListingMobile Version: It says yes (but Im not sure about it)Technology Stack: JEE (J2EE)Online Map Integration: Yes (Virtual Maps)17. Yellow (Sensis, formerly Yellow Pages)Website: www.yellowpages.com.auWhos behind it: SensisLaunched: 1994Based in: MelbourneService: online/print directory listing for local business withfree and premium listings, same listings are available viamylocal (Ninemsn search portal)No of business listed/reviewed: 2 millionTop 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue: Premium ListingMobile Version: YesTechnology Stack: JEE( J2EE)Online Map Integration: Whereis18. White pages (Sensis)Website: www.whitepages.com.auWhos behind it: SensisLaunched: N/ABased in: MelbourneService: online/print directory listing for business/government, residentialNo of listings: N/ATop 3 industry wide categories: N/ARevenue: Premium ListingMobile Version: YesTechnology Stack: JEE( J2EE)Online Map Integration: Whereis19. ReachLocalNote: Not a dedicated Local Search Engine.
Website: www.reachlocal.com.auWhos behind it: US Based Company, Expanding Operations in Australia(CEO Steve Power)Launched: 2007Based in: SydneyService: creates pay-per-click ads on search engines.After analysing all the players in local online search market, these are the top 5 playersin this market according to their market share/business listings. 1. Yellow, MyLocal (NineMsn) 2. dLook 3. TrueLocal,Google Maps, Yahoo7! 4. AussieWeb Local Search 5. HotFrogSensis Under the HoodLets first analyse what Sensis is all about.Sensis is fully owned by Telstra. It has variousservices/products under its umbrella and most ofthem are in the online and print directory listing andadvertising business areas.Sensis portfolio will be discussed in detail a little bit later; lets first look at where Sensisstands in marketplace in terms of branding and market segments.Telstra – Parent CompanySensis parent company is Telstra, an Australian tier-1, fully-integratedtelecommunications (telecom) and media company, provides services to customers (incities and country area). As far as the telecom industry is concerned, it is the dominantplayer in Australia and will remain so in any foreseeable future. Telstra also has a 50%stake in Foxtel, which is a (pay TV) media company.Telstra vs GoogleTelstra with Sensis under its belt and a majority (50%) ownership in Foxtel, is consideredthe same as Google of Australia or a media company, at least in some quarters. BruceAkhurst, CEO of Sensis explains during his speech, on March 30, 2007 how he sees thefuture of Sensis and Yellow. Read it here.Google started as an online search company and expanded into advertising. Following this,they expanded into online maps, instant messenger (Gtalk), blogging platform (Blogger)and social networking (Orkut). Last year, they rolled out Android platform for mobilehandsets under a 34 company consortium known as the Open Handset Alliance. In
addition, Google began providing an online suite of applications and recently, a webservices offering like Amazon with its recently launched Google App engine. Beginning as asearch company it has quickly expanded into various sectors in a short period of time.Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has said that its not a media company but a technologycompany. Pundits have disputed this claim across the globe, read about it here.Well for the time being, Google is still regarded as an engineering company as they areinnovating new solutions by using technology.Telstra, although being a telco company is still regarded as an engineering company. PaulBudde correctly pointed this out in my recent interview with him. Read it here.As far as engineering is concerned, Telstras emphasis is on hardware-oriented, networkownership-centric service creation, Googles is on software-services-powered engineering(though theyve done some great server farm work to support this).Considering the Sensis and Foxtel (50% holding) subsidiaries, does Telstra appear to bemedia company? Sensis is a major player in online local directory search and advertisingspace, however it doesn’t produce any content on its own for consumers yet, so they can’tbe positioned as a media company. CitySearch is an exception to this. Foxtel (pay TV),being a media house doesn’t have any bearing on Telstras and Sensis branding andmarket positioning. So neither Telstra/Sensis nor Google is a media house, given that bothhave a foundation in engineering and are in the online search and advertising space.Google is a global player in this space, where as Sensis is a dominant local player. Oneexception to this is that Sensis has 50% stake in SouFun in China.Sensis is now finding out that not only are Google trying to capture its market in the onlinelocal search space, but there are 17 more players competing in this market too.Lets now analyse in more detail what Sensis various services are and how they areperforming.Portfolio Services of Sensis1. Yellow™, - covered above2. White Pages®, - covered above3. Trading Post®, - eCommerce (b2c), Revenue: brokerage on transaction and advertising,Technology stack is .NET, Mobile version is not available4. Whereis®. - Get a map, Get directions. The new Whereis site is a mashup containingplaces of interest like ATMS, Hotels, Rental Places and others, Technology stack is J2EE(new Whereis might be ROR) and mobile version is available.5. Media smart - Advertising in the form of Search, Display and SMS advertising. IncludesBidSmart, Sensis contextual advertising equivalent to Google Adwords.6. CitySearch®, - entertainment guide for restaurants, bars and clubs and events in everyAustralian capital city7. UBD®, - street directories (Universal publishers)
8. Just Listed - Buy rent, or commercial9. Gregory’s® - provides printed copies of street directories, maps, atlases, and guidebooks.10. Gostay - Find accommodation11. Link Me - Find a job, find staff (similar to Seek and Linkedin)12. Invizage - Home, buy IT Spares13. Sensei - for teachers and parents, has a scrapbook for book marking (like del.icio.us)14. SouFun - Chinese real estate and home furnishing and improvement web site with 51percent stake in it.Sensis Services - Under The ScannerIts time to see how Sensis services and their offerings stand outwhen analysed under the scanner. Only major services like YellowPages, Whitepages, Trading post, Whereis, Mobile, City Search andMedia Smart were anlaysed. The rest of them don’t have muchbearing on Sensis numbers and brand except SouFun (which istargeted for Chinese market and has no bearing on local market)To analyse the service offerings the following aspects wereconsidered. These are: Originality Simplicity Performance Marketability Revenue Model TechnologyOriginalitySensis main page, which is their face to the outer world,is a collection of all the services. Not much in it in terms oforiginality - probably inspired from Google and Yahoo andenhanced further - especially the top/upper tool bar on themain page. The top/upper tool bar displays icons andnames of services, where as if we compare it withGoogles top/upper tool bar it displays name only.The middle and main sections of the page are branded asbeing the “The Search Engine for Australians”. It has the major service offerings listedin a tabbed fashion, with the first one being: All (sites) followed by Websites, News,Images, and 3 major services respectively. There is nothing original about that as welleither.
In addition to this main page, each of the services has their own dedicated portal. Yellowand White Pages are available locally in countries worldwide, similarly we have got themhere. Trading post is similar to ebay, Whereis is like Google Maps but now contains moreinformation via mashups, Linkme is more of a Seek (Australia) + Linkedin and MediaSmart is like Google Adwords/Adsense.To say the least, there is not much originality in these services, which are offered locallyacross the globe under different names and brands. Having said that all these serviceshave their local niche market and Sensis is playing in that market. The only question hereis whether they are doing it in an innovative way or just following the trend. Well, theanswer to this is that they are following the trend and catching up, so we can’t expectoriginality.SimplicityAs far as simplicity is concerned all the individual portals are easy to use and find relevantinformation.Yellow - has the simplest interface and is the least cluttered of all their services, especiallytheir homeatyellow which is the simplest site of all the sites under their umbrella.White Pages - has more choices so its a little bit cluttered, but it is simple enough.Trading Post is more cluttered as well and trying to dotoo many things/giving too much information on thepage.CitySearch is better, looks less cluttered, betterstructured and it’s easy to navigate.Whereis – Is a very useful site and with a simpleinterface, though the main page design needs a revampand a more appealing interface. Some non-IE browserslike Firefox render it a bit differently. The new site looksbetter, but too cluttered at the bottom of the page.On the main Sensis page the top/upper toolbar is similarto Google’s top/upper toolbar and has icons and links toYellow, Whitepages, Trading Post, Whereis, CitySearch,Go stay, Jobs, Just Listed, More Sites and Big Pond.When clicked on more sites, got a new popup frame viaAJAX and that blocked the main search bar at the centerof the page. In addition to that same sites that areavailable on top/upper bar are duplicated and few morenew sites like SouFun and Mobile in the popup frame,thus wasting space.Structuring of content on the main Sensis page needs abig overhaul. One of the things to consider keeping the
same theme across all the sites. There is no need to have icons and name together ontop/upper bar as it just clutters the space, (see how the iPhone menu does it). A lot morecan be done in this area.In general all of the major sites (except homeatyellow) have too much information on thesite, which leads to a pretty bad user experience. This picture summarises well whatsimplicity means.(Note: Image is used from Technology and Geek Stuff)One common issue found across all the sites was their poor support for non-IE browsersand non-Windows platform. Rendering in Firefox, which has 25% browser market shareand is growing and Safari (Macintosh and is growing), is poor. Example the AFL site that iscontrolled by Sensis, doesn’t render the content in desired format on non-IE browsers andnon-Windows platform in comparison to what is achieved on IE. Not only that but thebandwidth usage is bad for non-IE browsers and non-Windows platform.In comparison to this, Fairfaxs - Real Footy and Herald Sun’s - Superfooty renders contentfar better on Firefox and non-Windows platform. It will be a good exercise to make somechanges when it comes to interoperability between browsers and platforms.Performance (Quality of Results)More and more people are using Google for search whether it is news, general information,forums, images or maps. The reason they are doing this is because not only can they findthings more easily and rapidly, but the results are also more relevant to the search criteria.Sensis search is not only slow (can’t compete with Google infrastructure) but it can’t evenfind relevant information and doesn’t have in-depth indexing for all the sites. Therefore thequality of results on its search is poor.As far as the local business directory search is concernedvia White Pages and Yellow, it is fine. Relevant informationis retrieved/found. So credit should be given to the team.Search results on Whereis are quite good, especially thevalue they offer compared to Google. On a newly launchedWhereis site, when searching for a specific location, it notonly finds the relevant location, but gives information onnearby Hotels, ANZ ATMs, nearby secure parkinglocations, rental properties and others useful information.This is a great mash up service and is a winner in this space. Even though response timevia Ajax might be bit slow or because of network congestion, but once high poweredbroadband is available these latencies will be less.MarketabilityThe creation of Sensis in 2004 was Telstras strategy to become a major media player,focusing on advertising. It was also anattempt to defend and extend Sensis
existing advertising base againstincreasing competition from internet search-engine heavyweights, in particular Google.Roy Morgan conducted a survey from Jan – Dec 2006 and found that 13 million Australiansaccessed Sensis services over 130 million times per month, suggesting a very high level ofbrand recognition in the Australian marketplace.The following quote sums up the public awareness of Sensis“...every household uses its products but to most people the company itself is amystery...”Whilst Sensis individual web products have enjoyed a high level of brand recognition,Sensis as a brand has not. Sensis was previously known as Pacific Access, a brand thatwas relaunched multiple times over several years.This is despite a $10 million rebranding campaign in 2004 with the intention that :"By this time next year (2005), there will not be too many Australians who dont know whowe are,"One of the reasons that Google has been so successful is its branding. In fact, in 2006,Google beat Starbucks, Apple Computer, and Coca Cola to claim BrandChannel.com’sBrand Of The Year title.Suggestion:Sensis has struggled with branding. As mentioned above, Sensis manages 14 services,with each product having its own identity and marketing budget. Sensis could betterorganise their services into sub-umbrellas by grouping them based on what each of theproducts or services do. E.g. Sensis (Home) Sensis (Work) Sensis (Entertainment & Travel)Sensis (Home) could have White Pages,Just Listed etc.So perhaps there could be 3 or 4 subumbrella categories containing between3 and 4 individual products. This meansthat Sensis would market sub-umbrellabrands rather than individual brands.The theme is what they would market(e.g. around home) rather thanattempting to push the entire brand setat the same time to a mass audience.In addition to this, Sensis could spendless time marketing the technology oftheir actual producs and insteadpromote the benefits of the products.For example, Yellow Pages is offered as having Map based search- what is the benefit inthis? The user would be more interested in knowing that their search feature could savethem time on travelling, or reduce petrol spend etc.Alternatively, Sensis could group their products by target market, which they would know a
significant amount through their demographic analysis.Revenue ModelLets look at how Sensis is traveling in real numbers. Here are the reported half yearearnings until Dec 31, 2007Sensis grew its sales revenue by 7.8% to $954 million with the Yellow™ and Whitedirectories and emerging businesses delivering strong results. Total Sensis revenue growth of 7.8% to $954 million; Core business (not including SouFun) revenue growth of 5.8% includes 4.8% growth in Sensis’ directories business compared to 2.8% in 1H07; Total Yellow™ growth of 3.2% ($543 m) compared to 1.5% in 1H07 includes 0.2% growth in print compared to a 2.5% decline in 1H07 includes 21.8% growth for yellow.com.au; Total White Pages® growth of 10.3% ($161)compared 8.1% in 1H07 includes 9.9% growth in print compared to 8.1% growth in 1H07 includes 45.6% growth for whitepages.com.au; Total classifieds revenue stabilised at 13.8% decline compared to 15% decline in 2H07. includes strong usage growth of 18% for tradingpost.com.au over the December 07 quarter. Continued growth in emerging businesses of 27%. Highlights include: Over 60% revenue growth in the Whereis® location and navigation business 55.6% revenue growth in the MediaSmart® digital advertising business Exceptional revenue growth of 18.2% in voice services Strong growth in SouFun revenue of 79.2%.TechnologyOne of the things that Sensis have got it right is their technology stack. Their software
stack for majors services is based on JEE(J2EE) which is the obvious choice for such amassive IT reliant organisation. I’m glad that they have made the right choice. Not onlythat, my understanding is, that unlike their parent company Telstra, they are using Agilemethodology for their software development life cycle (SDLC), which is a another tick andcredit should go to them. They are also using .NET (stack for Trading Post), some offeringsfrom LAMP stack(like PHP) and some of the new services in use/coming will be using Rubyon Rails (ROR) which is an emerging stack in enterprise space.As far as using ROR is concerned, its too early to say about itssuccess in a massive transaction oriented system, but whenThougtworks is working on your floor, they will adopt Ruby onRails(ROR) in some areas. Having said that Ruby on Rails is asmart and appropriate choice. It allows a business to be agile inthe marketplace and manage change priorities. Ruby on Rails(ROR) compared to using JEE (J2EE) stack with agile practices(like SCRUM/XP) can give far more agility when it comes todelivery of a service/product. It is a competing technologywith .NET stack and JEE (J2EE) stack.Another good aspect as far as technology is concerned is, theyare moving to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Sensis hascurrently undertaken a massive consolidation and transformation project, as suggested bySol Trujillo (CEO, Telstra) last year and implementation of SOA is part of this, which isanother right step in right direction.This is a step in right direction because SOA is a business vision and is best suited forFinance/Banking and Online/Media industry. If this is implemented and realised then,Sensis as an organisation will not only become more agile to market needs, but willincrease its working efficiency (more margins), will streamline the applications (removesredundant applications, less support work) and bring visibility across the business.It’s a difficult and a daunting task to achieve, especially when there is a heterogeneousenvironment. Integrating different stacks can be daunting, even though most of the stacksclaim they are interoperable. My experience and wisdom tells me it works fine in ahomogeneous environment, but in a diverse environment its challenging to achieve. Oneof the focus point of SOA is to make this task easier by adopting and following standards.Sensis & CompetitionBusiness Listing DataCurrently Sensis maintains arguably the largest number of business listings (1.7 million) inAustralia through its directories, Yellow Pages and White Pages. Telstra sources itsbusiness listings from its own customers as well as other Carriage Service Providers (CSPs)such as Optus etc.Earlier this year, the Australian Communications andMedia Authority (ACMA) allowed Australian Local
Directories Pty Ltd to access a subset of the IntegratedPublic Number Database (IPND) data in order to produce a sample public number directoryfor ACMAs assessment of an application for final authorisation.Once granted, Australian Local Directories Pty Ltd (producers of Coffs Harbour LocalDirectories and Port Macquarie Local Directories) will be allowed to publish public numberdirectories using IPND data. Read it hereIbegin SourceIbegin is a business data provider company in the US that is aiming to make business datain US and Canada more accessible to the public, including local search websites. Ibegin hasexpressed an interest in providing a similar source of business data for the Australianpublic (date TBA). The addition of a data provider like Ibegin source would encourage moredevelopers of local mashups and thus a greater level of innovation in the local searchindustry.Mapping dataIn 2007, When TomTom, the Dutch In-car GPS maker, launched their products in the NewZealand market; chose to use mapping data from a local software provider, Geosmart, inplace of Sensis NZ product, Whereis TM (despite the fact that they use Sensis data inAustralia).What made this development so significant is that TomTom own a reported 39% of theAustralian In-car GPS market, which represents a significant royalty income for Sensis,when you consider that since 2005, every TomTom device sold in Australia had SensisWhereIs maps pre-loaded on to it.When TomTom launched in Australia in 2005, TomTom signed an agreement for Whereis toprovide Australian mapping data to TomTom, marking TomToms entry into the Australianportable car navigation market.Since that TomTom/Sensis agreement, Navteq entered the Australian market in 2007,after 2 years of mapping Australian roads. This resulted in speculation around whetherTomTom would switch to Navteq data in Australia. Fortunately for Sensis, in Europe, inMay 2007, Navteq lost a contract to supply European mapping data for all TomTomdevices, therefore for the time being, it looks like TomTom will remain with SensisFor now Sensis still has its stronghold on the in-car navigation mapping data market inAustralia, but as the NZ/ TomTom deal shows, locally it would only take a relatively smallmapping data provider like Geosmart to result in some large changes in the local GPSindustry. Nokia-backed Navteq will no doubt strengthen its presence locally too, resultingin more competition in the marketplace.Action Plan for SensisSensis is definitely aware of the stiff
competition it is facing from Google andnew players like TrueLocal, dLook, and others. They are making many changes and asmentioned previously they are currently going through this massive transformation processto be prepared for new challenges.After exploring thoroughly and analysing the local landscape this is my recommendedaction plan for Sensis to follow and become a leader in its offering rather than a follower.1. Redesign Sensis and other Portals and Keep It Simple(KISS)As highlighted previously, user interface (UI) experience at most individual sites (excepthomeatyellow) is not great because too many things are being tried on one page.Sensis main page or entry point for all the services needs a redesign, even though it is lesscluttered, but its top bar and center page needs bit of a thought. Please refer to myobservations above under SimplicityAnother observation for the middle section of the main page. The middle section of thepage has major service offerings listed in a tabbed fashion and first one is, All followed byWebsites, News, Images, and 3 major services, Yellow, White Pages and TradingPost. I think adding tabs for Websites, News and Images first of all is not a good idea, (Iuse Google and so is the case with others more or less) and secondly it is not the strongestproposition Sensis has. What Sensis has is these 4 strong propositions, Whereis, Yellow,White Pages and Trading Post. So they should be there first and then probably add aCitySearch tab. The rest is of no value, at least to me.My recommendation is that Sensis needs to hire a User Interface(UI) designing team. UIexperience is the most vital part of online service offerings. It has a make or a breakeffect. Sensis should try to get the best people in the business, perhaps the guys whoworked in the APPLE online UI team. That investment might be costly, but the quality andreturns would be enormous.Martin Fowler (CTO at Thoughtworks) has written a post why PeopleMatterMost. Read ithere. His point is to hire people who are bright and the best in their business. It will costmore, but the value they bring in will help the business enormously in both the shorter andlonger run. This is exactly what Sensis need for its UI team.2. Re Brand itIts better to re brand the Sensis portal as Australia’s Directory, eCommerce and MapPortal or other suitable slogan, instead of currently branded as The search engine forAustralians. I don’t know how many people use Sensis to search for news, images orother info, but if there are few who use it, then they willsooner or later move to Google for their day to day search.This is because Google has become a social habit acrossthe globe for people who are looking for information onthe net, and when anything becomes a habit as part ofyour day to day life then no branding or window dressingcan stop that phenomenon.In addition to that, to make life worse for Sensis, Google
and Yahoo have made entry for new players in searchnearly impossible because the amount of money required producing results accurately andefficiently is enormous. Yahoo itself is finding it hard to compete with Google. Sensisdoesn’t have deep pockets like Yahoo, Google or Microsoft, so it’s better not to go downthat path at this stage and use the resources more effectively on their core business andits strengthsIn my view it will be better for Sensis to re brand from “The search engine for Australians”to more real and appealing branding.3. Personalised Home - Create MySensisGoogle gives users to have a personalized home page known as iGoogle, where they canaddvarious applications like email, news feeds, weather, alerts andcalendar and so on via widgets. It was published recently in areport from comScore, that iGoogle had the highest growth inall the Google sites, read it hereMoving forward Sensis should think of personalising the content, because it will be moreuseful especially when mobile devices are heavily used for search. Any business (or aperson having a business listed or account with Telstra) should be able to get this pageand then they can keep adding various services via the widgets. One of the useful widgetswill be to able to see your mobile phone bill updated every 24 hrs or a tag cloud of themost searched categories by other people and so on.Homeatyellow site has started offerings on these lines. For example, tags are visible forpopular search items on Yellow and customisation is available. This is exactly what isneeded, but it would be better to offer this at the Sensis main page combining with othersservices instead of just Yellow. Having said that, credit should go to the guys, as this is astep in the right direction.Other option to consider is to provide the widgets for various services to iGoogle, to reducethe duplicity of content and managing various sites, this is becoming a major issue rightnow.3. The Long Tail - Monetise it BetterSensis seems to be diversifying its service offerings quite rapidly. I have already counted14 services under their portfolio. It’s a classical example of The Long Tail, the conceptcoined by Chris Anderson.Problem here for Sensis, in the 80-20 rule of this tail, isthat combining 80% of services is not producing morerevenue than the 20% of the tail in the beginning, whichcomprises mainly Yellow, White Pages, Trading Post andprobably Whereis. In my view Sensis needs to find abetter way of selling and monetising the rest of theservices to get the real effect of diversification and The
Long Tail. This is also a major headache for other players.4. Become a Leader in Mobile OfferingsMore and more people have started using mobile devices and this is on rise. So theobvious next market place will be mobile based services. This is an area where Sensisshould be putting more resources, because Sensis is doing a catch up job up in mostareas. This area has a lot of potential in coming years and Sensis can become trendsettersrather than followers.Mobile is regarded as the next PC and why is that; wellthis can be explained by an example. In this digital agewhen we leave our house to go out, most people makesure that they are carrying 3 things, no matter where theyhave to go. These 3 things are:a house/car key, awallet and a mobile device.Now think about it for a moment that a mobile device iswith us all the time when we step out from home. When we are at home we are alreadyconnected to outer world, but when we go out we have a device, which can allow us toconnect with others. This is where mobile device becomes a vital part in future.Today’s mobile devices are not as advanced as today’s PC, but with iPhone and Blackberryand PDA’s, things are moving rapidly. Another example to support this, in a recent surveyin Japan, young people were found having better typing skills on a mobile than a on a pc,which shows how times are changing. Mobile will be the obvious platform for consumingservices and is the way to move forward.Sensis has started offering Yellow and WhitePages on Mobile, but its very basic. There is alot of potential in this space and should start concentrating in this area as many otherplayers like dLoook, TrueLocal, Google Maps already have mobile offerings.5. Start Building Apps for iPhoneAs alluded above Mobile offering will be the major market for any company engaged inonline services. Apple’s iPhone is keenly awaited for its launch in Australia; it will be a wiseinvestment to start offering the services on iPhone. Main reason to feel bullish about this isthis. iPhone is a phenomenon/trend setter, it has become a craze in the mobile spaceacross the globe just as Google has become a habit when looking for something on the netor an iPod when it comes to a mp3 player.6. Make it available in GPS Unit (Car Navigation)The new site for Whereis looks really great in its offering (not in UI), especially with itsmash up of services. As part of this new mashup you can get information on nearby Hotels,nearby ANZ ATMs, nearby secure parking locations, rental properties and others usefulinformation.One of the other offerings locates the nearby, NAVMAN dealer (a New Zealand-based GPS
systems company, that provides stand-alone GPS units). This suggests that NAVMAN havea business partnership with Sensis and might be using the Whereis map for its GPS units.Sensis can further build this partnership and start offering business listings in these units.Partnering up with other vendors in this space has a lot of potential. Having said that, thismight be happening, as this seems to be the natural course.7.0 Make it Community Driven, Rich Media Enabled with Web2.0/Viral SocialNetwork FeaturesSome of the areas that most localcompetitors are working on to maketheir platform services more appealingare; using mashups, providingrecommendation/user rating (DiggModel) and becoming more innovative.Other than this all players are stillcaught up in old style offerings fordirectory listing.If Sensis has to prepare itself for thedigital and web 2.0 based economy thenit has to embrace 3 C’s -conversation, collaboration andcommunity.To achieve this, major changes are required in its online offerings. Following are myrecommendations.7.1 Add Viral Linkedin/Amazon Style FeaturesExample, Linkedin’s free user can not see the details of people who browsed their profile,but to create more curiosity they do tell that x number of people saw your profile from yindustry domain. When a user gets this information he/she is intrigued and eventually buysthe premium service.Amazon also has a great feature tempting buyers to buy more stuff. When a user buys abook on Amazon, it suggests that ‘x’ user also bought this ‘y’ book.This viral nature of features should be available to a user while searching on Yellow,Trading Post and CitySearch.7.2 Add Recommendation/Review FeaturesLinkedin has another interesting feature, where people can post questions, and receivereplies to their queries thus improving their public profile but they may also be contactedby others for new opportunities and expertise. Similarly Amazon has a review for itsproducts, where consumers write the reviews to benefit other consumers and helps themin making an opinion. This is a great feature.
Sensis needs to add this review/recommendation feature for its listings and allow thecommunity to participate and let them decide which is a good choice for them. From a userpoint of view they get a more open and honest view of the business and ensures thatbusiness remain on their toes.7.3 Add a Tag/Category CloudOne of the most popular features with the new search based sites is to be able to look atthe Tag cloud of searched items. This is a great way of finding the most popular thingssearched; del.icio.us (yahoo’s site) is a great example of this feature.This feature is now available at homeatyellow site, but it needs to be extended to otherareas.7.4 Add Multimedia (video Profile) Based ProfilesRecent developments at Seek suggest that they are embracing rich media content. Someof the employers have started adding video (youtube embedded videos) when advertisingfor a job. This is a great way of advertising, promoting a brand and sending messageacross others. This is a paradigm shift in the jobs listing market. Seek is probably the firstone to follow this in Australia. TV/Video is one of the most powerful mediums in the historyof mankind.Example: Check this video offering from Superpages (For US only).Sensis should embrace this, for example if each premium listed business on Yellow isallowed to add a 1 min video about their listing it will have a drastic effect on theirbusiness. Online platforms in the future are going to be based on rich multimediacapabilities. Right now our broadband infrastructure is not in a good shape compared toSouth Korean and Japan, but once the high sped broadband is rolled out this (video basedprofile) will become the most obvious feature needed for a business.Future trends suggest rich media driven ads will become a defacto in online space. So tomove in this direction first allow embedding from video sharing sites like Youtube on listedprofiles under Trading Post, Yellow and White Pages and other services.Sensis has a new offering in advertising space - MediaSmart (like Google’sAdwords/Adsense).The next step will be providing more services via MediaSmart to produce rich media enableprofiles. This can be achieved easily because Sensis can partner with other vendors in thatsegment to integrate with the portal. All the vendors are moving to SAAS (made famous bySalesforce and Amazon) or have SAAS capability and it will be easy to achieve thiscapability.Sensis revealed they are about to add the facility to embed video advertising, in theconcluded conference on Friday, April 11, 2000 at SMX Sydney. Thats a welcome move!7.5 Enter into Virtual World (Second Life)One of the other opportunities, in onlinesearch and directory listing, is to explore
and expand into the virtual world. SecondLife is a leading virtual world community and more are cropping up day by day. Businesslike SUN, IBM has a presence in Second Life, even Telstra and ABC (media/broadcastingorganization Australia) have a presence in second Life.Second Life has become a massive platform and is running a parallel economy; more andmore offerings will be available in future. It will be a good place for Sensis to have a virtualCitySearch, business listings and other services in Second Life. It can also be used as atest bed for services, brand promotion and marketing exercise8. Add intensive Data Reporting (Google Analytics or Data Mining)Once the above mentioned features are available, one vital thing that is needed is, isintensive reporting back to the business. This is becoming one of the holy grail of thebusiness problems. People/businesses want to know how their profile is being viewed,accessed, how the ad campaign is going, how many impressions they received, where isthe bulk of traffic is coming from, and more revealing aspects like that. Media Smart doesprovide some of these features but it will have to add more features especially for videobased listing campaigns when it comes on board. This data has a lot of intelligence aboutbusiness (BI) and if reported and presented well to the business in layman’s terms then itis a good revenue generation exercise. This same data has a lot of value for researchorganisations. Google captures it, studies and thrives on it.Another area, which is where lot of attention is going now, is Mobile Analytics. I’m not sureif Media Smart provide statistics for Mobile services, if not then this is the other area whereSensis should start working seriously, before it becomes too late. The best way to get intothis space is to acquire a business in its early startup.9. Cut Down Printing, Be Environment FriendlyNo matter what people say (especially the newergeneration), there is definitely a market for printeddirectory and classified ads, even though this businessis diminishing it still has enough business in it. DaveSwanson (also CEO of R.H. Donnelley) describes it inone line here, Online and Print usage is binary and hasto exist side by side.His observation makes sense, but the problem withSensis, is the growth factor in print, especially inYellow, which is 0.2% growth, compared to a 2.5% decline in 1H07. In White Pages it wasmore encouraging which included 9.9% growth in print compared to 8.1% growth in 1H07.Detailed financial results are discussed above.In order to understand more about print usage of Yellow and White Pages, I recently did asmall survey of a few properties in 3 suburbs to gauge how the print copies are used. Whatcame out of that was not surprising. In 2 to 4 houses out of 10, Yellow and White Pagesare used for a totally different purpose, like increasing the height of a PC, shoe rack, lyingin front of an apartment or piling up in garage and so on. This trend is more prevalent withthe young generation; many of its copies are wasted every year. Taking a holistic
approach, my view is, if printing targets are cut by 20 to 30% it will reduce lot of waste inprinting and will help environment not only from consuming less paper but, will reducetransporting costs and carbon emissions (diesel/petrol consumption).To make it more appealing to customers Sensis should try using recycled paper andencourage them to send it back (if they are not using it) by giving incentives via Telstra’sphone account, just like Single Online Bill of Telstra.10. Technology Stack and PracticesA company operating in online services market has a business model dependent purely ongenerating revenue from these service offerings. For a company to be in a healthy shapethere are few vital things; good relationship with customers, happy employees, open workculture and a good investment in infrastructure. Sensis services are mostly IT driven.Therefore it’s vital for Sensis to make sure that their infrastructure is world-class,processes are agile and they are investing in their people/employees.10.1 Implement and Realize SOAAs far technology is considered, some aspects of it are already covered above underTechnology subsection. Sensis needs to look towards future and start integratingapplications and services under SOA. Implementing and realising SOA in a heterogeneousenvironment with JEE, .NET, ROR and LAMP stack is a daunting task, but this is the way tomove forward.(Note: SOA stands for Service Oriented Architecture)10.2 Adopt AgileTo market your services at a faster rate andto adapt to market forces, Agile basedsoftware development methodology is thebest way to move forward. As mentionedpreviously Banking/Finance/Online/Media arethe natural candidates for the Agile (peopleare preferred over process).10.3 Implement TOGAFAs far as technical and enterprisearchitecture is concerned it will be wise toadopt The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), in laymen terms its anIterative/Agile way of designing, preparing and validating solutions and roadmaps for thefuture.10.4 VirtualizeAnother thing to consider while moving forward, especially when lot of impetus is onsaving energy and being environment friendly, is Virtualization. This will be an obviouschoice, especially for consolidating applications and platforms. We all know in a bigorganisation like Telstra or Sensis, there will be a lot of legacy systems, or less demandintensive systems, which can be virtualized. This not only will save massive electricitycosts, infrastructure maintenance and licensing costs, but will help them in managing the
Google.com/places Ads by Google 9 comments: Anonymous said... For a directory site with a difference check out www.boozewatch.com.au It is for WA only but they will email you their prices twice a week for drinks on special in your area. Saves me heeps more than fuelwatch.com.au April 16, 2008 3:54 PM
Neerav Bhatt said...Nice work Vishal, it obviously took a lot of time toresearchApril 17, 2008 1:35 PMVishal Sharma said...Thanks for your warm words Neerav. This isdefinitely has taken a lot of time to write somethinglike this. It took more than 6 weeks to do this. Markand Meg were really great in helping and providingnecessray info.April 17, 2008 1:40 PMclickfind business directory said...Nice work Vishal, well worth the read. Ivebookmarked it and will read it again...April 17, 2008 8:32 PMSimon said...Have a look at http://www.ourpatch.com.au its newand only focussed on rural and regional Australia.May 1, 2008 8:43 PMAdrian said...Hi Vishal,Excellent piece of research. There is actually a verynew directory business that has been launchedcalled FreeConnect which is very interesting anduses a different model (similar to Google Adwords).Check it out atwww.freeconnect.com.auregardsAdrianJune 1, 2008 2:57 PMBrett Gilbertson said...Very comprehensive action list! I hope that someoneat Sensis is having a good read of this.
Consumers shifted a long time ago and Sensis needs to take a good look at themselves if they want to survive. Its not likely to happen, but it would be a shame to see a billion dollar Australian company fall over because they failed to act. July 9, 2008 11:47 AM Scott Maxworthy said... Today, expect for searching for local tradesmen nearly everybody now uses a search engine as their first point of reference. Yellow Pages missed the opportunity to be the dominant online search service in Australia years ago. As more small businesses move their advertising online Sensis revenues will continue to be eroded. What is most important (and often overlooked) is how engaging your website is when people find you. July 23, 2008 7:42 AM Anonymous said... Should at shopseek.com.au to this list - been around since 2007 around 7000 user submitted listings... May 1, 2009 11:37 PMPost a CommentLinks to this post Australian search engines and directories australian search and directories market Survivor, Entrecard and Stuff insights into the australian search and directoriesmarketCreate a Link