Yellow Pages Advertising is Still Good Advertising

I guess the Ad Guru knows a thing or two.

Reading the findings of a recent study on MarketingCharts.com, I was surprised to see just how successful YellowBook advertising still is in a world supposedly driven by the almighty web.

Some other morsels from the study:

  • 82% of online local searchers follow up offline, via an in-store visit, phone call, or purchase; of these searchers, 61% went on to make purchases.
  • Traditional advertising triggers branded online searches:
    • Between 60% and 90% of searches for heavily advertised categories such as pizza, insurance, banks and financial institutions were branded
    • 30-50% of keyword searches were general in nature for low-branded categories, including Auto Service and Home Services.
  • A majority of local searchers – 60% – first go online for conducting a local search:
    • 30% of searchers use general search engines, such as Yahoo or Google.
    • 17% use internet yellow pages (IYPs)
    • 13% use local search sites, such as Citysearch.

What does it mean? There are all kinds of takes. For one, it only fortifies the popular belief that it’s small, local business that can actually grow the most due to “New” Marketing. Secondly, it gives new value to traditional advertising. If an ad leads to a branded search, and 60% of the time that leads to a purchase, then that’s saying something.

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26 responses to “Yellow Pages Advertising is Still Good Advertising

  1. Yellow pages are good for stuff you know you need already (plumber, dentist, lawyer, etc…) but if you have a business that people would not know to go looking for (pooper scooper, at home oil change, at home car wash) then it doesn’t help much… Fliers are a good alternative.

  2. what about costs? margins on each deal? depending on what your business is, you may want to ignore yellow pages completely as it is very expensive. if you spend 5K on advertising and get 40% more clients you better make sure that you come out ahead of where you would be if you spent 1K and got 40% less clients.

    and every year more and more people who grew up not using yellow pages will become consumers.

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  4. I agree with both of you – I’m shocked that yellow pages is still this much of a player. Although I must admit that I often use the online version when looking for services (like AC repair, duct cleaning, etc.). Maybe that’s the key niche for something like this – home services/handy man stuff.

    I do think they’ve done a pretty good job of integrating into search engines. Obviously, use of the print version will decline, but if they can better organize results for the right kind of searchers, then they still have a place.

  5. I work for Yellowbook USA and the high cost is a myth. Many people advertise for under $100.00 a month and that is a nice size ad in yellow pages, a big bold print in the white pages, and placement on the internet too in several spots. We are also working with both Google & Yahoo and all there sub search engines. With over 7 million unique new visits on the online each month (40 million each month all together or more) Yellow Book USA is the least expensive and greatly effective way for ANY business to advertise! Imagine reaching hundreds of thousands of people 24/7 in your market area! It breaks down to .0001 cent (or less) per person who could become a life long client!

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  8. John – thanks so much for joining the conversation.

    What you’ve mentioned, how it links into Google and Yahoo, is what I’m presuming is helping with your success. Care to share just how that part of the program works?

    Also, what’s your take on my theory that service-based advertisers do better?

  9. I also work for Yellow Book USA. Most business owners don’t realize that the Yellow Pages and IYPs in general are still the best and most effective advertising. Of course Yellow Book is the best place to be (hint of bias). YP & IYP are directive advertising. The customer is looking for what you do or have! No other media can boast that power. I run into the smallest businesses that spend more money in one month on newspaper, radio, fliers, direct mail and tv than they would spend on a full-page ad in our directory. When I ask them how many leads or return on investment they got from their other advertising, they never have an answer. Yellow Pages has a stigma of being expensive because all other media have created that illusion to protect themselves. For all of the business owners out there, I’m sorry to let you know that the average U.S. business spends ONLY 4% of their advertising budget on Yellow Pages and IYP each year!

  10. I hear you on Yellow Book being underestimated, but the BEST and MOST EFFECTIVE advertising? I need a little more proof. For one, your point that the customer is looking for what you’ve got is true, but that’s what makes all search engine marketing powerful, not just Yellow Book.

    However, if I’m looking for something specifically, then having that full page in yellow book or being at the top of the search results is definitely more effective than other forms of advertising. I think you just have to keep in mind that some marketing is targeted for the “Already Aware and Interested Customer,” and some is for the “Ignorant Customer.” The goals of each are quite different, and need to be considered as such.

    By the way, what exactly is IYP?

    Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. IYP is short for Internet Yellow Pages. Many business owners are looking for the ultimate one marketing bullet. Sorry there isn’t one! Yellow Pages and Internet Yellow Pages are directional advertising. A person has a need for a service or product, and they look in the book or on the Internet Yellow Pages for someone that provides it. Usually they don’t care who, as long as they are close to their location, and they are reasonably priced. Over 80% of the people that search in their phone book or on an IYP make a purchase from someone they found there! As for search engine marketing, there is a lot of sizzle and not much substance yet. Everyone thinks the web is where everyone goes nowadays. Most people are going to the web to do research before they buy products. The web has not yielded good results for sales of services. Google and Yahoo tell us that it takes 100 visitors to a website to generate 3-15 sales. As compared to the Yellow Pages and IYP which produce 2-18 phone calls to produce a sale. The cost per lead for search engine marketing is still many times more than Yellow Pages and IYP. Large search engine results usually have little local relevancy in their results. That’s why IYPs are growing at an alarming rate. Google and Yahoo are watching as we steal their searches.

    I hope this helps

  13. Dan – your stat on conversion rate differences between IYP and search engines is staggering! Basically, if I’m reading it right, that’s 3-15% conversion for Google and Yahoo (which still sounds high to me) vs. 5-50% (which is a pretty wide range, too).

  14. I work for a little company called AT&T Yellowpages.com…and it still amazes me how many customers spend megamoney for real estate either in our print or online product, and then only want to spend 10 minutes creating their message to the masses. Its like buying a lot in Beverly Hills and then letting it go wild with weeds.
    Super Dave

  15. The internet yellow pages are hard to navigate and have some misinformation. It showed a post office listing 2 days ago to me that has never existed and sent me on a wild goose chase. I wouldn’t waste any money on the little company called AT&T or IYP.

  16. Super Dave – you have a pretty good point. Too many times, business owners think the space is all you need, but it’s actually what you do with the space that makes the difference.

    CWD – You sound bitter.

  17. I too am with the #1 independent publisher of yellow pages in America. I also work for the #1 fastest growing IYP in America too, Yellowbook.com. (comScore, March, 2008). With about 15 million unique visitors each month and growing, it’s obvious more and more people are utilizing Yellowbook.com as they seek to do business both locally and in neighboring cities and towns. Adding our ability to sell Google and Yahoo’s advertising programs under a completely managed program is just another avenue Yellowbook is using to continue to be on top! The level of expertise is unmatched in the YP industry. With our new logo and commercials, we will just see our numbers continue to soar when our competitors are wondering what happened to their stocks and customers, we can say…. YELLOW to the future!!

  18. Lisa – thanks for your comments and excitement.

    I am continually surprised on YellowBook’s success. I don’t know that we’ll see any tangible sales spikes due to your new logo in the near future, but that’s definitely a step toward long-term growth.

    Here’s a question from an uninformed consumer: what’s the difference between YellowBook and YellowPages, and why should I care?

  19. I used to work for the number one IYP in the US as measured by ComScore. That would be Superpages.com. The problem with IYP’s advertising on major search engines is that they just bring the end user back to their own listing of advertisers which is really of no great benefit. Another problem is that the real traffic seen across IYP’s vs. major search engines such as google and yahoo is less than 5%. Before everyone starts getting high off the yellow pages smoke, please do a little research before you post. YP.com does it’s advertisers no great service by guaranteeing them a certain number of clicks each month. The advertiser could pay 270 for 90 “targeted, High Worth” clicks to their site. What they don’t tell you is that they buy the words in such bulk, they pay pennies on the dollar. I have seen the other side of the fence and I always laugh when I hear people talk about IYP’s as being the lowest cost for real leads. I only use the yellow pages to sell SEO and SEM to. It’s too bad that Idearc is the only publisher that actually know what any of those terms are. The future is in SEM and SEO or something that hasn’t even been created yet. Not tree killing yellow pages or IYP’s. Every second someone is born, the yellow pages lose another potential user…

  20. yellowpages.com is the #1 internet directory in the world. According to google trends ( go to google, type GOOGLE TRENDS, then in the search bar type in… let’s say… yellowpages.com, yellowbook.com, superpages.com – copy and paste those 3 top internet directories into the search bar.) There you will clearly see that when the searcher is on google, they are searching for yellowpages.com by far way more than any other directory. Just an FYI. Also according to the latest Comscore report, yellowpages.com is the leader in IYP, especially when you combine it with their partners, such as aol local yellow pages, yahoo local yellow pages 411.com… just to name a few. There are actually 9 or more partners. Never the less, AT&T yellow pages and their IYP, yellowpages.com are by far the leads leader. They are truly the “Real Yellow Pages”. Everyone else I would say they are generic…. Also if you think about it… the first “search engine” to ever exist was actually the yellow pages. But times have changes in a big way and now we have search engines in the electronic sense and not the print… I do also agree that the yellow pages are still the main source of users needing services and products. anyway, just a tid bit of info… Oh and google trends is a great way to compare all kinds of stuff… definetley worth takin a look at!!

  21. This post is definitely food for thought, Brett. Because the Yellow Pages is such a well-known resource with such a long history, it will likely continue to be a player. But as one of posted comments points out, there are more and more young, budding consumers for whom Google has much more brand recognition than Yellow Pages. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  22. Matthew – yes, I’ve actually been surprised at how prominent Yellow Book and Yellow Pages still are (with all due respect).

  23. Typically I like to use the Yellow Pages for phone #’s and addresses – don’t think Google is going to replace that for me. Tell Mike hello.

  24. How Much is a full page ad for a lawyer in Rochester, NY?

  25. There is a little known battle going on with searches on the Internet. IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) searches are growing rapidly among users because it’s easy to find locally relevant info. Google and Yahoo are not effective at providing local search info. The president of Google said that the majority of people want to find a service or product close to their home. The battle that is waging between the IYPs is intense. Of course YellowPages.com has it’s name going for it, that’s why it’s referenced more than any other IYP. However, one needs to look at the real numbers. It may be referenced more, but what happens once users get to the site? Yellowbook has been the fastest growing IYP for almost 2 years running with over of 15 million unique visitors/mo. The BIG stat that is really important is how many searches are performed by a unique visitor, and if they find what they are looking for. Yellowbook.com’s average visitor does 5-7 searches/visit. That means folks aren’t bouncing from the site before they find what they are looking for.

  26. There is a HUGE difference between IYPs that is a dirty little secret. Yellowpages.com is a DMA (Designated market based search). What do you care? It’s not a true local search! Do a search yourself and see. Type in PIZZA and UNIONTOWN PA and check the results. The first nine pizza shops are over 50 miles from Uniontown, Pa! Those advertisers are being served up totally irrelevantly. If I was a pizza shop paying for advertising 50-60 miles away from my location I wouldn’t be pleased. But more importantly, if I am an user, I get totally frustrated because I can’t always get local info. Yes, YellowPages.com gets lots traffic just because of it’s name, but users don’t get a true local result. Bad news for users and advertisers. Yellowbook is an user-centric search engine. The search returns all of the relevant businesses closest to the geographic location of the user. Yellowbook.com will continue to rapidly grow and eventually dominate the IYP market because we are out to please the users of the site. Our philosophy with all of our products has always been: USER FIRST, ADVERTISER SECOND, YELLOWBOOK LAST. This has led to our domination in the nationwide print market, and it will lead to domination in the IYP arena. Stay tuned.

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