For the first time in… probably 10 years, I picked up the AT&T Yellow Pages book yesterday. The book had been sitting there since October of 2008 and I haven’t even opened it up yet. I’ll be honest, I tore it open because I was actually searching for clients to contact.
I was astounded by what I found within the massive book:
This was printed in 2007… why is it still referencing 1999? 1999, just when the Internet started to take off. 1999, just when the Y2K was about to destroy the world and we’re all over the Internet trying to figure out what’s going on. 1999, when 83 million adults were accessing the Internet and spending an average of 12.1 hours per week.
Reference: Media Awareness
Now, compare 1999 to 2008 when there’s over 220 million people using the Internet. That’s 72.5% of the entire United States’ population.
Reference: Internet World Stats
So why on earth, is at&t still referencing studies and statistics that is practically stone age? I mean, if more and more people are using the Yellow Pages, why aren’t there any new and updated information about such statistics? “Hmmmmn”, right?
So, honestly, are yellow pages print ads still effective or are yellow pages ineffective now?
Here’s another page I found in their book:
In my opinion (Kevin Lam, here), the statistics are a bit misleading.
In 1999, “66% of consumers reference the White Pages an average of 3.2 times per week.”
In 2005, “78% of consumers reference the White Pages an average of 2.5 times per week.”
Since I cannot find out how many “consumers” they actually used in their research (irrelevant in my point anyway), you know what this means to me? People who bought something through the White Pages had to have looked at the paper weight an average 130 times per year.
Now, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but a little common sense tells me that this just doesn’t add up. Seriously, who needs to reference the White Pages THAT many times a week and per year?
Even if there are people doing that, just how many people could possibly be doing that? These statistics are absurd.
That’s not even my point though. I love the way it’s worded. The statistics are based on consumers ONLY, not the general public, which is what really matters for any business. Do you know how many doorsteps these books get dropped on and then just go straight to the trash or left on the porch until it is recycled? Too many to count.
I’ve walked down my street asking my neighbors for the phone books and every single one of them throw them out. Even a couple who are in their 70’s. I figured they’d be one of the people that would frequent it considering their age and exposure to it, but I was totally wrong. They hadn’t even looked in one for more than 3 years!
Here’s another good reference to read:
On page 6, you’ll see that the average annual calls for local display and ad space dropped from 885 to 784 between 1999 and 2004. That’s a drop of 11%. Not much… but that’s 2004! It’s 2009, folks! 5 years later when the calls are still declining and costs are increasing!
For the sake of argument, let’s just say each call had an average cost of $10. That means, it had to have cost $8,850 to advertise in 1999. Without the consideration of inflation, the cost per call is now $11.28. Doesn’t seem like much, but to reach the same 885 phone calls, that’s an additional $1,140.11.
Keep in mind that no where have we even begun to discuss conversions and sales value.
Are Yellow Pages Print Advertising Cost Effective?
So I ask you, how effective really is the Yellow Pages? Does spending upwards of $25,000 into a book that no one really looks at actually help increase your business?
I read a recent report by Blue Corona who conducted their own performance tracking to determine how well the Yellow Pages was doing. They soon realized that business had declined drastically while costs have skyrocketed. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? What kind of “business” is that? Might as well just give money out to charity!
Needless to say, after the results the client company refused to do business with them again unless the listing was free.
Reference: Blue Corona
Of course, this isn’t based on the at&t Yellow Pages (well, kind of since at&t bought Verizon’s yellow pages service), but it is a close indication of how their print advertising is performing. If you’re still using it, it’s best that you have a tracking system setup and determine whether it’s still worth your time and money. Not only that, I recommend you step into the new millennium (although it has already been 9 freak’n years!) and use Internet marketing to increase your business.
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