Natural Search Blog


New Print Yellow Pages Usage Stats from comScore-TMP Study

Print Yellow PagesTMP Directional Marketing and comScore announced their annual joint “Local Search Usage Study” today, and there were some interesting statistics:

Top 25 Things Vanishing from America: The Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages Dinosaur

AOL’s Walletpop blog has created a list of the Top 25 Things Vanishing from America. They listed “The Yellow Pages” as item number 24, along with such things as outhouses, classified ads, dial-up internet access, phone landlines, VCRs, cameras that use film, and more.

I’ve written before about how print yellow pages usage is decreasing due to the internet and mobile phones, and even internet yellow pages usage may be dropping due to newer generations becoming less aware of what yellow pages are. Others such as Bill Gates have also predicted the end of the print yellow pages while analysts such as those with The Kelsey Group have only predicted a sharper decline in usage of print YP this year, compared with last. [* This last sentence subsequently corrected after publication – see below.]

So, when will print yellow pages ultimately go the way of the dinosaur?

It’s unclear since some analysts have predicted a 3% overall decline per year for printed YP income, while others have stated the rate could be accelerating, with print YPs dying off within about 10 years. Also, some claim the demise of the printed directories is greatly exaggerated, since some smaller and more-specialized directories have seen increases in business.

What is clear is that increasing access to alternative sources of information in the way of internet local search, 411 services, and search-enabled mobile phones are definitely eroding usage of print YPs by some degree.

Yellow pages would seem to have already moved past the tipping point — when people begin listing YP books nostalgically as icons of the past, and when consumers are demanding that YP companies stop dropping books on their doorsteps — it seems like the end may be drawing near. If it is an accelerating business trend, no amount of guerrilla marketing, nanotechnology, and possibly questionable YP usage statistics will prop up the larger companies dependent on this business model unless they diversify rapidly.

[* The sentence in paragraph two originally read “Others such as Bill Gates and The Kelsey Group have also predicted the end of the print yellow pages.” That sentence originally only mentioned Bill Gates when I was still drafting it, and I accidentally rendered it incorrect when I added in mention of The Kelsey Group without properly qualifying that they have only predicted some erosion of print usage. The Kelsey Group has not to my knowledge predicted an absolute end of the print YP industry.]

The Kelsey Group Puts Print Yellow Pages On Notice

Walking FingersOver at Media Post, The Kelsey Group is quoted today saying that the erosion in usage of print yellow pages is likely to fall off at a higher rate this year — by 10% this year, compared with only 2% to 3% erosion in recent years.

They state that a combination of factors such as more users going to internet yellow pages and local search engines combined with a recession are propelling the rapid erosion. Concerningly, one can extrapolate that if print YP usage is dropping, advertiser dollars might also follow the herd.

As Greg Sterling points out, The Kelsey Group has historically been a very staunch defender of the print YP industry, so this article is a bit of a gut-punch to people in the legacy print business, even though anyone watching the trends over the last few years won’t find it all that surprising.

One thing the Media Post article doesn’t mention is how (more…)

Could Nanotechnology Save Print Yellow Pages?

Technological evolution continues to change our everyday lives, and the speed of changes over the last two decades has caused an acceleration of impacts to traditional forms of business. Nowhere is this more evident than in the impact to usage of printed yellow pages directories. Once the mainstay for locating businesses, many consumers now treat the books as doorstops or fireplace kindling.

The Yellow Pages Association‘s annual report and other research indicates that consumer usage of print directories is on the decline while usage of online yellow pages and local search are increasing. The main divergence of opinion seems to be in how long it will be before print dies completely – ten years, fifty years, or a century? Simba research indicates that profits of core yellow pages are down while independent publishers are increasing at double-digit rates, indicating that advertisers continue to see value in print YP exposure. Even though the print biz still has lots of money and usage, those who have watched tech trends during the Information Age know that transitions of this sort can often reach a tipping point rapidly, perhaps rendering print YP irrelevant at the closer end of the timeline estimates.

In all the rush to sound the death-knell for print most folks are looking upon it as merely a dinosaur, soon to die as a result of the meteor-strike of internet search technology. But, could there be another future in store for print directories?

Nanotech and Yellow Pages

I’ve been watching developments in a number of converging lines of technology for a while now, and I foresee another potential fate for the print directories: nanotechnology. Read on and I’ll explain.

(more…)


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