I ran across a press release from an Internet marketing service that used some strong words about the health of print Yellow Pages directories, saying that Yellow Pages usage is “drastically dropping” every year.
Of course, a competitor would be apt to say something like that about one of our industry’s products, and the truth is there has been a decline in the number of references to print directories over the last five years. But I certainly wouldn’t characterize the drop as drastic – especially in light of the current fragmented media environment, where newspapers, network TV and radio have all experienced significant drops in audience share.
The Internet marketing company also forgot to mention that the number of searches on Internet Yellow Pages sites has increased more than 75% over the last five years.
But back to print. What might be surprising to some is that a significant number of print Yellow Pages headings have shown dramatic increases over the past 10 years, and we’re not just talking about traditionally strong headings like “Gutters and Downspouts” (which has seen a 130% increase in references).
On the contrary, headings that are used by “millenials” have also shown dramatic increases. For example, “Ear Piercing” and “Tatooing” are each up almost 600% in the past 10 years. For gen Xers, “Home Centers,” “Resorts” and “Hot Tubs” are each up over 150%. And for Baby Boomers, “Retirement Homes and Communities” is up over 200%.
This tells us that the more things change, the more they remain the same. In many ways, I see Yellow Pages as a mirror of societal change. And we can watch consumers pass through different life stages by the way they use Yellow Pages directories.
Research shows that local businesses can be extremely effective in maintaining a print directory ad that complements Internet Yellow Pages listings, sponsored keyword buys, search engine optimization – which, by the way, can often be coordinated in one suite of services through a Yellow Pages sales rep.