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paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

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49. Yell Group

Classifieds, United Kingdom (Public)

Last year’s rank: #31

Digital Content Revenue

$723,770,000 (28% of total)

Digital Snapshot

“Let your fingers do the walking,” the Yellow Pages publisher used to say, back when the slab-sized tome was the go-to directory for finding local business listings. Yell has tried to replicate its print place online through, and mobile apps, but has gone on losing local business searchers to search engines and, now, location-based check-in and review services. The same economic downturn that has hit local business advertising spending in print even dented Yell’s digital efforts last year, when its digital directories sales dipped by 11 percent.

Key Move

Yell is rebooting. A new CEO Michael Pocock hired MSN’s Scott Moore as chief digital officer, opening new digital offices in Seattle and refocusing on providing customers marketing services like website creation and SEO, rather than just plain-old listings. Yell built 337,000 of those sites in 2011, with a 112 percent growth in digital services revenue helping to hold overall digital sales up at nearly a third of the total. Now Yell wants to disconnect from the past, rebranding as “Hibu” – a name it acknowledges means absolutely nothing.

Our Methodology

Digital directories revenue of £111.2 plus digital services revenue of £72.0 million from across operating countries.

Source: Annual results

— RA

21 Responses to “paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies”

  1. Good Job Mr. Robert

    I am a freelancing SEO and SMM professional. The recent update of google penguin and panda has changed the SEO pattern radically.

    And google has done this algorithm change to spread their digital ads business nothing than this.

    I really hate this because, making loss to others for their own profit is a Digital Crime and Weak Business policy from my view. Check my site Arsenal Highlights

  2. ciaranj

    If you want to rank things on revenue, fine. But then don’t call it the ‘Most Succesful List’: Microsoft might ‘make’ $3.9b on digital content, but it also loses around $3b every year too.

  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I think this is a terrific list despite any reservations some people have about the methodology. It really demonstrates the huge growth potential of digital media companies in some of the emerging markets. Also, as a scientist – I note Elsevier being top 5 in revenue (Elsevier is publisher behind many of the top scientific journals).

  4. Mindbendingpuzzles

    What about Valve and their digital games platform: Steam. I know they are a private company and figures are hard to come by but in 2011 Forbes reckoned they have more than 50% of the 4 billion dollar PC games download market. That is huge.

    I would really love to see Paid Content do some investigation on Valve because they are an incredibly innovative company who really push digital retailing to its limits.

  5. Groupon and Monster are’t really media companies. I’m not even sure that ad agencies should qualify in the same category as Viacom or Time Warner. Totally different business model.

  6. Brendan

    Why is eBay not in this list? They have an ad business on and their classified sites, and the seller fees they collect are essentially paid ads since the platform doesn’t handle the items. This list is also missing Alibaba Group from China (including Taobao), and Gree from Japan.

  7. Zato Gibson

    “Creating this list wasn’t easy.”

    I can imagine. Manipulating the numbers to get Microsoft into the top 10 must have been really tough.