Here’s an unpleasant headline for the yellow pages industry in the Wall Street Journal: “Extinction Threatens Yellow-Pages Publishers“:
The audience for online yellow pages remains relatively small, and traffic growth is slowing. So many directory services are vying for the ad dollars of local businesses that no single site has an authoritative roster.
Meanwhile, ad dollars are drying up as small businesses — the industry’s bread and butter — find it harder to pay bills or have cut their spending sharply.
Print and online ad spending on yellow pages will plummet 6.3% next year, more than double the rate of decline expected for broadcast TV, according to forecasts by Wachovia analyst John Janedis. Within the next four years, ad spending will fall 39% in print directories alone — the steepest projected decline across all local-media categories, according to media-research firm Borrell Associates.
They’re talking mostly about print, and about the publishers that depend on print as their primary revenue source. Definitely the “half-full” version of the story.
The issue it highlights accurately is the “dilemma” that print publishers face: growth is online but revenues are offline by a large margin. The newspapers face a more dire version of this same problem. Yellow pages have done a better job than newspapers of selling the Internet and offering ad products to SMBs that reflect the changes in the marketplace.
The article doesn’t discuss the value of IYP leads (vs. general search) or the almost unique position of the industry in terms of reach into the small business market.