The Annual Print Yellow Pages Page Count And Lemonade

Photo Apr 22, 11 37 34 AMEvery year around this time I get my Superpages Yellow Pages book. And every year around this time I report,  one more time, that the print Yellow Pages are dying. This year is no exception.

The total page count, contrary to last year’s aberrant small increase, continued to drop and the book now sports 84 total pages. Sort of.

The good news (from Superpages POV) is that unlike previous years there was actually many fewer filler ads stuffing the pages, pitching how great the Yellow Pages were, and artificially increasing the page count.

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The bad news? They have actually increased font size and are effectively showing fewer listings in the same number of pages. As Ed Reese pointed out in a recent interview at Local U, that’s what he (and I) did in 7th grade to get our school papers up to the required length.

In classic marketing style of making lemonade out of lemons they are now promoting the book with a Larger Print moniker, hiding what would have been significantly fewer pages under the guise of being elderly friendly. And targeting the only audience they have left; aging seniors with declining eye sight.

Next year? No doubt they will still be around and probably touting how light the book is and easy to pick up with my arthritic hands. At least the marketing and the actual market finally align.

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The Annual Print Yellow Pages Page Count And Lemonade by

8 thoughts on “The Annual Print Yellow Pages Page Count And Lemonade”

  1. Mike: Do you keep any of the old books? I’d like to know which regional/local businesses are spending the big bucks for big ads.

    It would be really telling if you could find some businesses that have continued to pour local money into these dramatically shrinking, dramatically underused yellow pages.

    Really, as a charter member of the old fart club, I do remember using the print yellow pages extensively. Of course that is only because my long term memory is pretty sharp. (while I can’t recall what I had for breakfast this morning). I think its been years since I looked through a yellow pages, for any business of any type.

    I’d suggest checking into those businesses that do seem to be spending on larger ads. If I was a local cold caller, calling for local seo clients…those are the ones I’d call on first.

    Those local/regional businesses with large print ads….cripes they are wasting money. If they don’t think so…I’d love to find out why they are spending what they are spending. That would be an interesting discussion.

  2. Hey Mike

    This is much the same in the UK. 20 years ago every home had the big yellow book and it was a weighty tome: A4 paper & two inches thick covering a tiny local area.

    Now the books are tiny: a5, couple of centimetres absolute max & covering a broader area. I have not noticed the font but it’s an interesting point.

    The much, much older generation are still likely to hang on to their books but in most cases they seem to just get thrown out. On the Yellow Pages site in the UK they actually state that it is a ‘great way to target the over 45s’ – being 40 myself I think that is a bit optimistic to be honest and maybe the over 65 may be a bit closer to the truth.

    The whole Yellow Pages business touts itself as a digital first business but from what we have seen they do a pretty shocking job of that in the UK (botched adwords campaigns etc).

    The digital site (Yell.com) still seems to do well here and tends to be first organically around classic business categories and locations (plumber, accountant etc). That is below 4 ads and a local 3 pack though so… it still has a place but is not the be all and end all it once was.

    Cheers
    Marcus

  3. Mmmm … I’ve never cold called or even prospected but if/when I do, I’ll know where to start. Wonder what the larger ads in YP cost.

    Agree with Marcus re. Yell.com’s prominence in UK which is still a good referral source for some local businesses as well as being a good structured citation to help get in the local pack.

  4. The suggestion about “calling” or cold calling on local/regional businesses that still advertise in YP was thrown out off the cuff…but its not a bad idea…for calling on prospects..or for research. In Mike’s case, where he has kept quite a number of books (that relate to his graph) he has the source info for some interesting research or calls.

    In our cases we are OLD. old as dirt. We have several smb’s in this region, and some others…that predate the web. They used print YP extensively. Now –not one of them even keeps a copy of the print YP. I checked yesterday. I don’t recall when we started throwing them away.

    So I don’t have easy immediate access to a local copy of YP.

    In Mike’s case though he has a wealth of history at his disposal. His graph, with 7 annual data points shows a loss of more than 1/2 the pages…plus the font sizes are bigger and the existing pages are filled out with ads. I doubt more than 1/2 the local businesses have left the area and not been replaced. Maybe there are as many local smb’s in the region now as there were 7 years ago (or more). But they have voted with their feet and wallets.

    Maybe there is prospecting/cold calling value in contacting the smbs that are still in the YP. One wouldn’t know unless one tries. But out of that data there are a wealth of great stories and reasoning from the smb’s themselves as to why they have left the print YP.

    Boy I’d love to hear those stories.

  5. The biggest surprise is that well-designed and distributed phone directories are being used enough that the advertisers are reporting that they are making a profit.

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