Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How vulnerable is Sensis right now ...

Given Sensis Mediasmart is now known as simply 'Mediasmart' you have to wonder what Telstra's plans are for the business and how it fits into it's overall digital plans.

If you look at the traffic to the core Sensis businesses, the story isn't great. Not only are most of these environments not considered particularly 'essential' line items on schedules, they are flatlining badly traffic wise.

The core Sensis online businesses have been Yellow, White, Whereis and Sensis Search.

Every single one of these businesses is down on traffic year on year.

There is a lot said about people abandoning their print White and Yellow Pages and moving online - presumably to the digital Yellow and White pages.

From this data it shows that this probably isn't the case. The broad assumption may be true - but Sensis is by no means holding this audience as they migrate online.

So where are they going? Well ... Google is the safe bet.

Note the blue line on the graph - that shows the growth of Google Maps year on year ... 500%. Whereis - which had a first mover advantage is LOSING share. The main concern for Sensis would be that not only does Google have better mapping technology and takeup - they can apply strong business listings to said maps (Google threw True Local a lifeline and the match is a pretty solid one) and start to trump Yellow. And no doubt eventually they will setup something that rivals White (which Maps already does if you look at the Business listings element of White).

08 poses a few key challenges for Sensis ...

1. Do they maintain a search engine that cannot compete against Google let alone a MSHOO joint play ... or do they walk away from SEM or look to offer Yahoo or MSN a search distro deal across their network and rev. share?

2. How can they adapt Yellow to become more appealing to users? How do they adapt the way advertisers pay to be in Yellow given Google has changed the way many SMEs want to pay for leads

3. Can Whereis hold itself against Google Maps. What can it do better than its competitors - it's not enough to simply match them.

4. What does Sensis actually mean to consumers? Do you retire the brand or simply push it to the background?

5. Do they walk away from search and maps and focus on mobile - an they have a pretty sophisticated offering to give the market now the walled garden approach has been abandoned.

EDIT: All data for this post was sourced from Neilsen Netview, December 2007.

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