Dr. Dennis Fromholzer, president of CRM Associates, has been following Yellow Pages usage for many years. He sent to me this week some thoughts that sum up recent data regarding print usage. Thanks to Dennis for sharing his expert opinion with us.
A number of businesses, bloggers, media commentators, and even public officials are accepting or propagating the myth that “no one uses the print Yellow Pages anymore.” These statements typically are made based on personal experience or conversations with a few friends, and are largely made data-free. The usage and call tracking data tell just the opposite story. Data from multiple studies show that while print usage did drop in the past few years due to the recession, print directories are still widely used. In fact, as the economy has started to recover, usage of Yellow Pages has started to increase – completely contrary to the popularly held myth.
This post provides a high-level summary of the multiple studies of the trends in usage and in call response to Yellow Pages ads. The fact that multiple measures point to the same conclusion suggest that the result is real and not an aberration or artifact from a single study.
Several studies since the beginning of the year prove that Yellow Pages remain a vibrant, essential tool for consumers looking to find businesses. In a nutshell:
- Print usage Reach and Frequency increased throughout 2009 by about 15% (Burke 2010 YP Usage Study).
- IYP usage Reach and Frequency increased throughout 2009 (Burke 2010 YP Usage Study).
- Total calls to Yellow Pages increased for both print and IYP in 2009 (CRM Associates 2010).
- Calls per advertiser increased in 2009 for print display, space, and trade ads and for IYP ads (CRM Associations 2010 Metered Ad Study)
- Calls either grew or were stable for 72% of top headings in 2009 compared with 82% of headings that showed a negative trend in 2008. (CRM Associates’ 2010 Metered Ad Study)
- Compared with 10 years ago, 43% of the top 660 headings received at least as many references from print as 10 years ago; 33% (one third) of the headings received 20% or more print references than 10 years ago. (Knowledge Networks/SRI, CRM Associates)
The growth in usage of hundreds of headings clearly contradicts the suggestion that “there is a systematic migration of usage away from the print directories,” or that the Yellow Pages medium is “dying,” or that “no one uses the Yellow Pages anymore.” Rather, the fact that so many headings have experienced increased usage shows that the medium remains vibrant and relevant to today’s shoppers.