YP CEO: We Were ‘Mobile First’ Before It Was Cool

David Krantz on why his company is a digital power player

David Krantz took the reins as YP CEO in 2012, when the listings directory spun away from AT&T Interactive, which was his former employer and the brand's former parent. Since then, he's been busy pushing what consumers for more than 125 years called the Yellow Pages—which rebranded to its snappier two-letter moniker in 2010—forward into the digital era.

Krantz chatted with Adweek about how YP can remain relevant in a world where consumers routinely go to competitors such as Google, Yelp, Foursquare, Yahoo, Zagat, etc. to find local businesses. The exec is adamant about his publishing company's mobile ads prowess, conceding little to such digital powerhouses.

And why should he? YP only trailed Facebook last year when it came to mobile ad revenue.

Here are excerpts from the conversation.

Your company has signed agreements with Yahoo, Yelp and, most recently, Google, so now it can offer ad packages involving their digital properties in addition to YP's. So what is your modern pitch to small businesses?

Our business is being a marketing services company and an ad agency for small businesses. We are a one-stop shop that provides them with all of their needs from websites to data management to video ads to ads on our sites to across our networks. We let small businesses do what they need to do, such as fix a roof, while we manage their advertising for them.

YP says its audience is 50 percent mobile. As people increasingly use smartphones instead of phone books, do you think your brand needs to become even more mobile to remain competitive in the next three to five years?

I do. Mobile is going to be the way everyone consumes everything, especially when it comes to local information, since you can carry everything with you now in real time.

Do you have data about YP's mobile app usage?

We've had over 10 million downloads of our app. We have over 30 million monthly unique [visits] across our app and mobile websites.

What sets the app apart from all of the competition out there?

We've got great new features, such as mybook, which lets users create custom collections. Our consumers use it and love it. It's a four or five-star rated app in all the app stores, [recently ranking] No. 11 in the Google Play store for travel apps and 26th in iTunes.

But to many, YP isn't the first brand they think of when it comes to mobile. What's your response to that?

Our attitude was "mobile first" back in 2008 before it was cool to be mobile first. We had a mobile app in Apple's first iTunes store. … And we had $378 million in mobile revenue last year.