How Widespread Is This?

The following is a recent, verbatim comment on an earlier post I did regarding the outlook for print yellow pages:

Our company has advertised in the DEX yellow pages here in Portland, OR for years. Over time, performance of the yellow pages has dropped steadily to the point where our exensive DEX ad is now outperformed by Google (unsponsored) searches, by Angie’s List referrals and by a similar ad in a locally printed yellow page directory that is targeted to a specific demographic audience (est. about 3-7% of the population).

So this year we have reduced the size of our DEX ad over and against the strenuous objections of the rep. The resultant lower price was not very much of a savings, but like we told him, “By ignoring the steady drop in performance by keeping your rates so high, you are acceleraating our rate of defection and we imagine the same is the case with other small businesses.”

Another trend that is not discussed much is that of a profusion of alternative directories with much lower rates and supposedly similar coverage. While it is not a stellar performer, we would still choose DEX over the other ones (Verizon, Transamerica, etc.) because it is familiar in this area and is distributed (so far as we know) as promised.

I have no empirical data to support the assertion but my “gut” tells me that this is fairly representative of SMB advertiser attitudes “out there.”

5 Responses to “How Widespread Is This?”

  1. Matt McGee Says:

    I have no empirical data, either, Greg — but in my previous job the most common statement we heard from prospects and new clients wanting our web development and marketing services was “We want to spend less on the yellow pages.”

  2. AhmedF Says:

    But – if they were to lower prices, isn’t that an admission of … defeat?

    I’m sure they’ve done their math (actuarial science and what not) – still more profitable to keep prices up, let some people go, then to lower price and have less people leave.

    And that is before we touch into their over-inflated circulation numbers and what not.

  3. Brian Kraff Says:

    Greg –

    Across many of our vertical segments we have seen a drive to cut YP Book spending by half in favor of adding Web Marketing spend to their mix.

    But, the top 20% of ech sector will be reluctant to let go of any YP spend because for many demographics it still works.

    SMB’s are skewing the mix and their willingness to try anything to replace lost YP leads is quite telling.

  4. Ken Clark Says:

    Balance that with the discussion I had yesterday: Dex based consumer in Iowa has his garage door opener quit. He notices a service provider who has a $50 off tip-on coupon on the cover of the book. He calls the guy (small operation – under 5 employees) and tells him to come fix it. During the repair he asks the guy how much business he gets from the tip-on. Answer: over 60% of his orders are from just the tip-on on that one book, and the orders arrive steadily over the year the book is on the street. Next year he is stepping up to a gate fold ad.

    It is a fallacy to think the scales have totally tipped electronic.

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    Don’t think they’ve totally tipped. See: https://gesterling.wordpress.com/2007/03/09/print-yellow-pages-whats-the-real-story/

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