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Who Even Uses the Yellow Pages Anymore?


I had the opportunity to speak with an account rep at an Internet company recently. As we talked about different types of advertising, it became obvious that he distained old media. He said that television advertising was pointless because people TiVo past them, and that he “couldn’t begin to remember” the last time he’d looked in the Yellow Pages. Instead, he uses a smartphone, buying a new one every 3 to 6 months, because he gets bored with the old one.

We were curious, so we asked a few personal questions. How old are you? Do you own your own home? Turns out he was 22-years-old, well-educated (BA in Marketing) but still living at home.

As we talked further, he did admit that his parents recently used the Yellow Pages to find a local contractor for some remodeling they needed.

For the past several years, business have began migrating their advertising away from Yellow Pages and into online media. What they don’t realize is that by doing so, they’re now targeting the 22-year-old living at home, rather than his home-owning, Baby Boomer parents with more disposable income.

Perhaps I’m stereotyping, but it makes my point. The old media vs. new media debate is not so black-and-white. In a recent study, 45 percent of consumers cited Yellow Pages as “the source I go to first for finding local business information”—just slightly ahead of search engines at 42 percent.

The results also skew differently for urban and rural markets. Another study found that in metro markets, 33 percent of consumers use print Yellow Pages exclusively; whereas, 49 percent of rural consumers use only Yellow Pages.

These studies make it clear that both Yellow Pages and search engines are the go-to sources consumers use to shop locally.

Over the next 15 years or so, as this 22-year-old goes on to purchase a home and raise a family, he’ll likely continue using the Internet and his mobile phone to search for the goods and services he needs. But until that transition is complete, so-called “old media” remains a marketing necessity.

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