Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why Do Advertisers Hate the Yellow Pages?


Love the newsletter, always something worth reading in it.

Great title on this edition of the YP&SBCN. I often wonder the same thing myself.

The thing I wonder about your HVAC contractor though, is why he hasn't forced the publisher to some sort of accommodation. $127k/yr ain't chump change, especially in the current YP advertising environment. He's got some leverage - can't he demand that the tab be located in some unrelated heading?

The second thing I wonder is, how much time/effort/$$ has he spent evaluating the return on his YP ad, or is he just ticked off at Verizon (it is VIS right? if so tell him to go ahead and cancel hehe) for diminishing the equity of his seniority position with the leader ads and tab (and I happen to agree with him about leader ads - it's a stupid thing for publishers to do). I suspect he would be advertising in the independents regardless of his frustration with the utility publisher, because the bottom line is YP delivers customers, whether it's the incumbent's book or a quality independent.

I get a lot of the same sentiment btw - to a lot of advertisers, Yellow Pages isn't "marketing," it's a necessity. YP spending is a "cost of doing business," not an advertising function. In other words, a lot of advertisers recognize the power of the medium to attract customers, but aren't thrilled about being in the auxilliary position at the bargaining table. In my opinion, this is mostly due to publishers doing a poor job of marketing the medium. It is not at all unreasonable for advertisers to demand that we be able to show them what they're getting for their money.

There are very few "true believers." The last one I had the pleasure of working with was Michelin, which had a great co-op program for their dealers. Still had to convince the dealers (all independents, no company stores for Michelin) that paying to run a mostly Michelin, BFG, or Uniroyal ad - without reference to Cooper, General, Goodyear, or Firestone - was their best choice, even if they did only have to pay for half of it. Sears was the best example of which I am personally aware, crazy big increases year over year, and their advertising department (one contact, yea!) handled the whole program, but I didn't work on that account. Dunno if that's still the case, this was eight years ago when I was still with TMP. Most often, we'd get "We have X dollars for YP, do what you can," rather than "Here are our sales goals for this year. What can you do to help us get there?"

Mark Keating
Communications Analyst
Alltel Publishing
330 650-7707
330 650-7321 (fax)


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