Think that yellow pages is dead? You’ll have to modify that assessment argues new survey data from the Yellow Pages Association and two research partners (Burke, comScore). Announced as a new “Local Media Tracking Study,” the findings of this new survey assert that print and Internet yellow pages combine to produce the greatest audience reach of any medium for consumers seeking local business information.
The survey findings also argue that yellow pages are recognized as the most trustworthy and accurate source of local information by respondents. Almost 70% (67%) said “print or Internet Yellow Pages are the source they trust most for finding local business information, compared to 33 percent for search engines. ” Regarding data and listings accuracy, “print and Internet Yellow Pages similarly scored highest with 68 percent, followed by search engines with 32 percent.”
The survey data are based on a combination of Internet (80%) and telephone (20%) surveys with 8,062 US consumers in 2009. Here’s the top-line set of results, verbatim from the press release:
- In total, consumers referenced print and Internet Yellow Pages 16.9 billion times in 2009
- comScore found that Internet Yellow Pages continued to chart growth, increasing from 4.6 billion in 2008 to 4.9 billion references in 2009
- Burke, relying on the new methodology combining Internet and telephone surveys for the first time, found that print Yellow Pages received 12 billion references in 2009
- The percentage of those surveyed who said they had used print Yellow Pages within the last month increased 12 percent over the course of the year, from 51.5 percent in the first quarter to 57.6 percent in the fourth quarter.
- Respondents also turned to print Yellow Pages more frequently as the year progressed. In the first quarter, there was an average of 0.93 references per U.S. adult per week. By the fourth quarter, that had grown 19 percent to 1.11 references per adult per week.
- Internet Yellow Pages saw an even sharper 20 percent growth during the year, with the percentage of adults that used Internet Yellow Pages within the past month growing from 31.6 percent in the first quarter to 37.9 percent in the fourth quarter.
- The frequency of Internet Yellow Pages usage grew 24 percent from the first quarter (0.54 references per week per adult) to the fourth quarter (0.67 references per week per adult).
When I was shown this data, I was skeptical and asked for more in the form of age and geographic segmentation. Search engine usage in the data skews younger, while print and IYP usage is concentrated among somewhat older users. Here are the largest categories of usage of print YP, IYP and search according to the Burke findings (click to enlarge):
Compare relatively consistent data from comScore (July, 2009) examining age segmentation and usage of different local media/sources:
I think that we can say a few things about all this:
- These YPA/Burke findings are different than other data in the market showing search engines as dominant in local (e.g., comScore)
- Search frequency is much greater than print or IYP frequency but the value of those YP lookups is potentially higher than search queries (depending)
- Regardless of the precise numbers, print YP is clearly being used by a considerable number of people (SuperMedia has recently asserted growth in print usage owing to the SuperGuarantee product)
- Consumers use a variety of source of information in local (the recent Kelsey data reinforce this)
- The market has segmented somewhat by age and geography
The market is complex and seemingly getting more so all the time for both SMBs and consumers, especially with the advent of mobile. If you’re a marketer, it really pays to know your audience and customers and where they might be looking for your services.