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Yellow Pages vs. Google

Posted by Casey Lewis on Monday, November 11, 2013

Topics: Yellow Pages


In recent years I have had countless customers compare and contrast the value of their Yellow Pages advertisements versus  the major search engines like Google. In order to properly address this question, let’s take a closer look at these two forms of Inbound marketing and the pros and cons of each.

Yellow Pages as defined by Wikipedia:
Yellow Pages
Yellow pages refers to a telephone directory of businesses, organized by category, rather than alphabetically by business name and in which advertising is sold. The directories were originally printed on yellow paper, as opposed to white pages for non-commercial listings. The traditional term yellow pages is now also applied to online directories of businesses.

In many countries, including Canada, the United KingdomAustralia, and elsewhere, “Yellow Pages” (and/or any applicable local translations), as well as the “Walking Fingers” logo first introduced in the 1970s by the Bell System-era AT&T, are registered trademarks, though the owner varies from country to country, usually being held by the main national telephone company (or a subsidiary or spinoff thereof). However, in the United States, neither the name nor the logo were registered as trademarks by AT&T, and are freely used by several publishers.

Yellow Pages Advantages:
Brand name recognition: In just about every city and country in the world people know what the yellow pages are.
Easy to use: In most major cities where there is a reasonable amount of advertising, it is relatively easy to open the book to your category and browse business listings and advertisements. Predominately advertised by service type industries.
Setup and purchase: The yellow pages are pretty simple to set up. A sales rep usually comes to your home or place of business and writes up an order. Some time later the book is delivered with your ad contained within. That’s pretty much it.

Yellow Pages Disadvantages:
Possession and Usage: In the mid 1990’s the yellow page directories started to see significant decline in the possession and the usage of their directories. The decline in usage has continued and in recent times there is a movement across the country to simply ban the use of yellow pages altogether. The reasons are primarily the belief that nobody uses the book anymore and it causes an environmental problem.
Art and Design: By today’s standards the artistic flair and branding for the business owner is insufficient at best. With many of the companies now outsourcing the production of the production and printing of the books, the quality of the actual advertisements is poor by any standard.
Cost: The costs are astronomical when you compare what you get. Yellow page companies are scrambling to preserve inflated costs for an advertising medium that once had a stranglehold on the average business owner. By greedy and over aggressive tactics with pricing in the late 80’s and into the 90’s the yellow page companies were left with an over priced commodity that was not worth the cost. As an alternative the companies rushed into the digital advertising business to maintain the revenues generated by the long-standing and loyal yellow page advertisers. The results on that are still mixed with primarily third party and vendor products offered by the yellow page companies that are now all owned or have gone thorough mergers and acquisitions with capital management firms. Google and the other major search engines:

Google Advantages:
Brand name recognition: Probably the most widely recognized brand name in the history of mankind. In the modern world almost anyone under the age of 70 knows that if you want anything you “Google it”.
Ease of use: unless you don’t own a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, Google can be accessed anywhere anytime for anything.
Cost: Costs for advertising on Google can be self managed or handed over to a well-qualified marketing firm. All results and ROI can be measured almost by the hour and costs can be turned on and off as budgetary constraints dictate.
 Google Disadvantages:
Use: The only real drawback to Google is if you don’t own a computer or device that can connect to the Internet. If you don’t, you could not access Google or the other major search engines.
Setup and purchase: Can be complicated to learn the process of setting up and buying AdWords.

The reality is that the yellow pages industry is dying. Download our whitepaper on the 5 reasons you need to stop advertising in the yellow pages to get a more comprehensive look:

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