Yellow Page Advertising, Part 1: Yellow Page Usage

It’s become an online hobby for many marketing “gurus” to diparage Yellow Pages as “antiquated” and “obsolete.” They say things like, “Who uses the Yellow Pages anymore, anyway?” or they criticize the research studies yet never provide any data of their own to prove their point.

In reality, all studies are done by independent media firms (much like the Nielsen ratings do with television). So in the interest of the truth, I present to you a joint study, conducted by two such firms, Burke and comScore, which found the following about Yellow Page usage:

  • In total, consumers referenced print Yellow Pages 12 billion times in 2009. (The average consumer turns to the Yellow Pages about once per week.)
  • When looking for local business information, 65 percent of consumers go to print and/or Internet Yellow Pages, while 58 percent use a search engine. (Flyers/coupons were 38 percent, newspapers were 33 percent, and magazines were 14 percent.)
  • The study also found that consumers have a greater trust in Yellow Pages compared to other sources. More than two-thirds (67 percent) said that print or Internet Yellow Pages is the source they trust most for finding local business information, compared to 33 percent for search engines.

A separate study revealed that, of the total leads generated by an average Yellow Pages print ad, 44 percent come from consumers visiting the advertiser’s website after seeing the ad; while 56 percent come from phone calls. This means that advertisers who decide to cancel their Yellow Pages because of “lack of phone calls” are actual losing more leads than they realize. The study went on to say:

The study, which revealed the extent to which Yellow Pages users visit a business’s web site after reviewing their print ad data, suggests that leads from traditional print media are being underestimated and that traditional print media remains a reasonably effective way to drive people online and convert them into leads.

In this new digital age of satellite radio, cable TV, mobile and Internet, advertising channels have become more and more fragmented, and there is no one “silver bullet” when it comes to maketing. When looking for ways to drive in additional revenue, the objective marketer will evaluate all the available options. Don’t be too quick to dismiss Yellow Page advertising as “old school.” The research proves otherwise.

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