Thursday, April 21, 2005

Caution sign for Yellow Pages . . . or isolated blip?

Caution sign for yellow pages: "A new survey shows that more consumers are going to Internet search engines for local shopping information rather than their phone books…"

This survey shows a major drop off in references to the Yellow Pages from October 2003 to February 2005.

The results of this survey are really inconsistent with what we're seeing in the field. We're finding that our advertiser renewal rates are climbing steadily, and YP ads with metered telephone numbers are incredibly strong. It's not scientific, but when business people vote with their dollars, it's a pretty darned good indicator.

It's also important to note that the indications of this survey are inconsistent with various studies by the major publishers and the industry trade associations.

I've been hearing that the sky is falling since 1999, and that the internet would replace the print directories, but that simply hasn't happened.

With the continued improvement in local search and the ever increasing content of local businesses online, it's inevitable that some usage will shift from print to online.

Thirty years ago, the Yellow Pages were filled with retailers such as hardware stores, appliance dealers, and pharmacies. Today, you find very few retailers, but many more service based businesses. Oh, and the print industry is stronger than ever.

I believe that electronic and print directories will coexist for many, many years. They'll evolve, but it's important not to take an isolated study out of context as indicative of an overall direction.


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