Today we released our annual Yellow Pages Industry Usage Study top line results, which provide a good trendline on how often consumers refer to Yellow Pages – both print and Internet.
We weren’t surprised by what we saw this year.
For starters, Internet Yellow Pages usage was up significantly over last year. The comScore research found that searches grew 22 percent to 4.6 billion in 2008.
Overall usage of Yellow Pages platforms – print and Internet – totaled 16.9 billion references in 2008. That’s a dip of 2% – a respectable performance given the rocky economy. When consumers shop less, they search for local businesses less.
Also no surprise, we saw a decline in print Yellow Pages usage. According to KN/SRI, print Yellow Pages references in 2008 were 12.3 billion compared to 13.4 billion in 2007.
What does all of this mean?
First, Yellow Pages are not immune to recession any less than other industries. When consumer spending picks up again, we’ll see greater usage of our products.
Second, online local search is hot. We are transforming from a directory publisher to a multi-channel player in the fast-growing local search industry. This is proven not only by the phenomenal growth of Internet Yellow Pages sites, but also through growth in all local search sites that we feed our data to.
Third, the online local search trend impacts print usage. People still turned to print directories more than 12 billion times last year. These are active, ready-to-buy consumers, which makes the ROI of advertising in print Yellow Pages very high – critical in tough economic periods.
But at the same time, we recognize that consumer trends are changing for the long term. The data we have on businesses, and the personal relationships we hold with them, are very valuable. We’ll continue to innovate local search solutions that meet these trends – so that whatever way consumers choose to find a local business, chances are the last mile of the search will always be supported by Yellow Pages.