Do Yellow Pages Still Matter?

Of course they do, but it’s now less about any individual product and more about “the platform” (or multi-platforms) and the sales channel. Today the Yellow Pages Association put out a release at the Kelsey conference citing traffic increases in online yellow pages usage:

IYP usage grew 27 percent in 2006. According to new research from comScore, Inc., 3.3 billion searches were conducted in 2006 compared to 2.6 billion searches in 2005.

That’s a lot of volume and good growth. To put that in some context, comScore says there are approximately 8 billion (based on their new methodology) search queries a month in the U.S. across all sites they measure.

Here’s more data from the release:

Additional comScore findings regarding IYP usage include:

  • Average # of monthly IYP searchers up 46 percent: 63.1 million IYP searchers per month in 2006, compared to 43.2 million IYP searchers per month in 2005.
  • IYP represented 35 percent of total local commercial searches in 2006, up from 34 percent in 2005.
  • 2007 IYP search queries up 14 percent: consumers conducted more than 1.85 billion IYP search queries in the first six months of 2007 compared to 1.62 billion in the first six months of 2006.

There’s also no questions that IYP and local search sites are effective vehicles for marketers. According to the recent TMP Directional Marketing-comScore study an amazing 61% of IYP/local search users “went on to make a purchase from a local business” (of a population of 82% of users who followed up with a contact).

Yesterday, one of the more interesting bits to come out of the Superpages-Switchboard/InfoSpace conference call was Superpages’ President Eric Chandler’s statement that the company now had “over 200,000 Internet advertisers.”


All the major yellow pages and local search providers will be at SMX Local & Mobile, including:

  • (Matt Crowley)
  • RH Donnelley/Dex (Jill Hammond)
  • YellowBook (Pat Marshall)
  • Superpages (Robyn Rose)

They’ll be talking about local search in much more practical and tactical terms than you’re used to seeing from them.

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21 Responses to “Do Yellow Pages Still Matter?”

  1. Laurence Hooper Says:

    Minor thing re: That 61% who went on to buy. The TMP release seems to say it’s 61% of the 82% who followed up online — almost exactly half of local searchers, in other words. Still a high number.

  2. Laurence Hooper Says:

    Oops — that should be: “82% who followed up *offline*”

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    Yes, you’re correct. I clarified above

  4. Pete Says:

    What I don’t understand is who actually visits the YP sites? Most people I know just use Google, Yahoo or Yelp. How do the YPs attract traffic to their sites and build their brand?

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    There’s a fair amount of organic/SEO driven traffic from the search engines.

  6. Tim Cohn Says:

    Pete, I believe the answer is searchers who can’t find their answer from the type of business they are looking to buy from otherwise.

  7. Andrew Shotland Says:

    I agree with Pete. It seems like the search engines are in fact becoming the IYPs and the IYPs are becoming middle men between the search engines and the business websites. Nothing wrong with being a middle man of course (Full Disclosure: I am the second child of three).

  8. Dan Hobin Says:

    The issue is NOT should you advertise on IYP’s, but what is the customer acquisition cost for doing so. As Greg mentioned many IYP’s enjoy organic/SEO traffic (ie., in Google organic SERP’s), but when you have to pay the high cost of the Fixed placement ads in the IYP’s – the customer acquisition costs skyrocket – compared to the top search engines. SMB’s with limited monthly budgets have to target their spending to the sources with the lowest customer acquisition cost – so until the IYP’s can compete on cost, they will remain 2nd tier.

  9. David Mihm Says:

    Many people commenting on this thread have raised a very important point about IYP’s: unless they are already ranking in the top 3-5 results for keywords that you want to rank for in Google, Yahoo, etc., they’re not worth the money. There ARE plenty of searches for which this is the case (InsiderPages seems to be the best for my clients here in the Bay Area; I’ve almost never seen YellowPages or YellowBook, e.g.), but ALWAYS search for your targeted terms in the engines FIRST to see if there’s any value before you step up to a big commitment.

  10. Barry Byers Says:

    (Full disclosure: I run a national yellow pages advertising agency) Dan brings up the critical issue of customer acquisition costs. Most small and medium businesses place their IYP ad without doing the math. They can tell you their cost per click on a search engine but if you ask them how their IYP ad is doing; no clue. As with search engines, IYP results vary per industry and per location. We calculate the cost per click of IYP ads for our clients with the reporting that IYPs supply. Clients can clearly see where their money is better spent. See you in Denver.

  11. Using IYPs As an SEO Strategy « Screenwerk Says:

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  12. jim Says:

    yes they matter but……this IYP space is a hit or miss area in my experience. i often use IYP’s it to look up local businesses, i have not used the yellow page books in years. it is worth spending a full day on these to make sure you are at least listed in the free listings, but it is highly time consuming finding and filling out all the required online forms.

  13. Tim Tevlin Says:

    My new local search ad agency local ad is focusing strictly on providing local ad campaigns on Google. Our own anecdotal findings on ad dollar return on investment between print YP, IYP and Google clearly indicates Google provides a run-away value proposition over the legacy brands.

  14. Patty Thompson Says:

    IYP offerings remain an inexpensive avenue for SMB to advertise without having a website. As the site was retooled recently, they’ve gotten better indexing on the 1st tier engines; advertiser traffic has increased 2-3x per the reports I am seeing- not just impressions either. YPC and Superpages placed ads are coming up more often in the organic search than ever. Unless an advertiser truly understands how to set their buy, they’re wasting time and money. Using an IYP makes the whole thing simpler. Reality is there is only so much traffic to go around anyway.

  15. Mary Bowling Says:

    The Yellow Pages industry understands their clients very well and are willing and able to deal with them face to face and one on one, which is what most of these “little guys” understand and appreciate. They have developed a business model and a form of relationship that has a history of satisfaction.

    Small business people are often successful because they are very good at what they do-cleaning carpeting, repairing cars, training horses- despite the fact that many of them are sadly lacking in marketing and management skills. They are simply too busy to become online marketing experts and it is not where their interests lie, anyway. The IYP’s are giving them easy to understand packages that they can pay for on a monthly basis and work as least as well as the print Yellow Pages worked for them.

    Right now, it seems as if the IYPs are more successful bringing their clients online than we SEMs are doing of convincing those same people that we can do a better job for them. Our challenge lies not in our execution of Local Search Engine Marketing, but in marketing ourselves appropriately to the SMEs.

  16. Mike Rauscher Says:

    As a start up services based SMB we have been challenged in finding a cost effective and more importantly scalable IYP provider. We are not “tech” savvy, however have been on the fence between a search engine Adwords vs an IYB listing. This discussion has been enlightening.

  17. Gregg Thaler Says:

    The IYP sales reps are essentially beating the local SEMs at their own game.
    The IYP reps are functioning as local search consultants and are selling value added SEM services in addition to their own proprietary premium listings.

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  21. Inbound Marketing Company Says:

    It matters because still many ppl is using YP to find their information. It is only a tool in our hand.

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