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The Accelerated Demise of Yellow Pages Directories

15-Jul-2009

If you were managing Yellow Pages you would be concerned. And whilst it would be easy to see the following as being specifically anti-yellow pages, print media in general is in decline - it is just more accelerated with Yellow Pages.

So what should you do:
- wean yourself off Yellow Pages now
- look at online directories
- get a strategy to get your business more visible with organic search
Read on to understand why...

Quotable Quote:
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. Harold Wilson

One of my clients has found the level of inquiries generated by Yellow Pages to be declining at a rate 50% per annum - on the same spend. And before you ask, it does include the online directory. I suspect this year may be the last for Yellow for them.

In order for us to prepare a print ad for them, we needed a copy of the current year's books. Yellow Pages would not provide them, nor could I buy them from the local post office as they didn't have any. When I voiced my dissatisfaction on Twitter, I received a very prompt response via Twitter of an offer for help - the only positive out of the whole experience. But no actual help.

It is inevitable that Yellow Pages directories around the world are in decline, and faced with that inevitability, they are looking at alternative models. This includes selling Google Ads. I suggest that you will do better through people that specialise in the the digital are including search optimisation, for a much better outcome.

Another client was offered monthly Google deals on packages ranging from $2,000 to $8,000 per month. After a 5 minute discussion it was obvious that the tight niche for his business could not spend more than $4000 for a year on Google, let alone a month.

If you are using Yellow Pages now and want to wean your way off it, it is important to develop a strategy to rank well in search engines, and the earlier you start, the earlier you can move away from Yellow Pages with confidence.

So, if this is true, why are people still advertising with Yellow Pages?

Yellow Pages advertising decisions are all about fear. Fear of losing your spot by not buying the same ad size again. Fear of someone else getting in front of you by buying a bigger ad. Yet, in all seriousness, who is going to look through sections of a directory at pages and pages of full page ads?

The customers are no longer quite so afraid.

Yellow Pages online model is equally terrible - search is appallingly bad, hence recently admitting defeat and providing their data to Google to include in Google maps that appear in search - see smartcompany

The search engine for Yellow Pages has always been found wanting compared to Google and many people have found it faster to open the book.... yet other online directories have made it much easier - and presumably had less capital to do it with. See Truelocal HotFrog dlook and for a great write up on online directories see Sensis and Australian search

With a dependence upon advertising revenue based on (oddly) who is first to buy the biggest ad, Yellow Pages is rapidly approaching the scrap heap, and it can't come fast enough in my view.

Trends towards great use of technology, particularly in mobile phone searches and trends towards location aware search will simply kill the printed directory industry.

And consumers are getting louder on the issue - surveys are showing a decline in usage, and plenty of activism against printing so many directories, many of which simply don't make it into corporate offices. Activist groups are petitioning online against printing the directories printnomore

Choosing not to receive the directory simply isn't easy enough, ABC. Sensis deny there is a decline in usage Yellow turning blue www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story

Take aways:
- wean yourself off Yellow Pages now
- look at online directories
- get a strategy to get your business more visible with organic search

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