After spending a really fun career selling yellow pages print advertising, I can say unequivocally, they are a thing of the past. Not too long ago my local phone book would be delivered and it was the better part of 6 or 7 inches thick. It was bustling with advertising, coupons, full color advertisements on the back cover and one might say it was business suicide for your business not to be included. I have personal memories of business owners who missed the book or were inadvertently left out somehow. They were mortified, it was going to be 12 months of hell trying to recover the lost source of new customer leads. And now as you can see in the photo above (from my hallway) the books just clutter up the walkway. Eventually they are thrown out and nobody really cares.
They may have been a good decision at some point, but that was likely before 2007. In my career I spent a great deal of that time negotiating on behalf of the sales reps for their compensation and commissions. As a result of that I was able to gain great insight into the timeframe of the collapse of the once powerful yellow page industry. I can tell you it was the 3rd quarter of 2007 when the bottom virtually fell out. Before that time and in late 1990's Google arrived on the scene, but the local business marketplace was still not the high priority for Google and yellow pages were still able to maintain most of thier revenue. Some of the reason was the fact that the YP company's were coming up with ways to migrate revenue to their new online products or re-sell search engine products and other creative ways to keep the revenue. But as we got into 2007, the game was up and the advertisers had enough.
Today, I get into lots of heated discussions around the value of yellow page advertising in general or the leftover yellow page companies in particular. From my vantage point the real crime is that the marketplace has been abused. The old school advertiser was not satisfactorially competent in the new world of digital advertising to make a wise decision. As a result, in my opinon they were taken advantage of by unscrupulous business practices by what were once reliable and solid ethical American Corporations.
I know many of my detractors will say I am a Benedict Arnold or disloyal because I retired from AT&T after a long career in the YP industry. However, I have to call a spade a spade. Just take a look at the following graph that I borrowed from an article written by Mike Blumenthal.
That's an inverse hockey stick guys and very tough to argue with. Now I know that some want to argue that in some rural demographic, to the elderly or maybe the few remaining service headings that this product still works. But folks, come on, If it were not for the national throw away money in these books and a few big money attorneys there is not much left. I would strongly reccommed that if you are a current advertiser, do some reading and research and figure out how much effective digital and online marketing should cost you. Don't rely on an unskilled sales representative to provide you critical and strategic marketing advice.