Thursday, August 7, 2008

Let Your Fingers do the Typing - Who Uses The Yellow Pages Anymore

Last night, the new Yellow Pages book was dropped off at the front door. I took it to our hallway desk, placed it on the shelf, and removed last year's copy to put into the recycling box. And then I asked myself, "self, I asked, when was the last time I used this book to get information?" The answer is long enough that I don't remember opening it. So now I wonder, do I really need to keep this current edition.

Frankly, when I need to find something, I Google it on the web. And not only to find out where a store or product or service might be found, but to seek out advice and comments from others online that may have also sought out this same information. The web has become so convenient to get this information, I forgot to even consider using the Yellow Pages directory as a reference.

And I'm not the only one. "The percentage of internet users who use search engines on a typical day has been steadily rising from about one-third of all users in 2002, to a new high of just under one-half (49%)."

The yellow Page book is very Americana. It had the brand identity as the predominant source of information. And yet they have not seemed to capitalize on their brand in the online arena. The Yellow Pages brand, owned by AT&T, exists but has not broken through the clutter to become a well known online search tool. And business does not look good.

When Idearc spun off from Verizon a couple years ago, I thought there was hope for Super Pages to enhance its identity and become the online reference point for consumers. They have not fulfilled that goal either. "Over the next five years, Borrell Associates Inc. are expecting 39% of the ad spending on print yellow pages to vanish. After 12 years as an advertising medium, the Internet has finally reached small-business owners with viable marketing opportunities in the form of keyword advertising, interactive directories and low-priced online video commercials. The recession appears to be triggering the shift."

This transition that consumers are making from print to web extends not only through the yellow pages but to all types of print material that can be better searched, sorted, refreshed, and relevant on the web than as a printed page. It seems to already have happened with the yellow pages, other types of print will follow.