Yesterday the Yellow Pages Association announced the launch of “www.yellowpagesoptout.com” that seeks to “help consumers choose which print directories they want delivered to their door steps.” According to the press release:
Yellowpagesoptout.com aggregates delivery information for Yellow Pages publishers in one place, making consumer choice simple, secure and effective. Users type in their zip code and receive a list of local publishers with the appropriate steps to stop delivery or adjust the number of directory products they receive.
This initiative, together with the YPA’s “Yellow Is Green” efforts are probably now necessary to respond to and preempt criticism from different groups and consumer advocates about the environmental impact of printing directories when the Internet appears such a viable alternative. In addition, they help prevent legislative action from gaining momentum around compelling an “opt in” policy to receive print yellow pages. However, opt-out may inevitably lead to opt-in . . .
Right now there’s a movement afoot to make delivery of white pages opt-in. This is being pushed by the directory publishers themselves in large part. Unlike in other parts of the world where white pages generate ad revenue, in the US it’s a pure cost center. Hence the agreement to reduce white pages’ publication and delivery.
WhitePages today unveiled the results of a survey of nearly 1,000 US adults that finds 81 percent of consumers are willing to embrace “opt-in” programs to receive the white pages phone book to help save the environment and tax dollars. According to WhitePages, the largest and most trusted online and mobile directory, if every US household stopped receiving the white pages phone book, millions of trees and up to $17 million in taxpayer funded recycling fees would be saved every year. “Opt-in” is defined as receiving a white pages phone book only if you request one.
WhitePages.com has also launched a site called “Ban the Phone Book,” which seeks to educate people about the environmental impact of printing directories.
Did you know that up to 5 million trees are cut down each year to create the white pages phone book and that taxpayers are spending $17 million each year to have these books recycled? Even more surprising is that almost 75% of consumers are completely unaware of the environmental and financial impact in printing, delivering and recycling these books.
The danger for the industry in actively promoting an “opt-in” strategy for print WP is that it may quickly bleed over into print YP. After all the industry is promoting “opt-out” for YP, why shouldn’t it simply move to opt-in, given the environmental impact arguments apply equally to YP as well. There’s no distinction between WP and YP from a logical perspective. The distinction in internal to the industry: cost center vs. cash cow.
The “book” as in “Ban the Book” will equally extend to YP in the popular mind. So, as you can see, the combination of all these initiatives will put increasing pressure on print YP to go from opt-out to opt-in. If that happens, it would accelerate the revenue losses that print YP is currently seeing.