Just the other day, phone books were delivered to the door of every home in my Raleigh neighborhood, and it prompted me to wonder if anyone even used the yellow pages, anyway. After all, it is 2011, and our world has been overcome with technology. I, for one, can’t say I have searched in a phone book anytime in my not-so-recent past. Smart phones run rampant in our culture, these days, so the individuals turning to the phone book tend to be the older generation who are behind in adopting technology.
Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Although the internet has been a growing source of information for many years, it hadn’t surpassed the yellow pages until about three years ago, in 2008. According to ComScore, who is a global leader in measuring the digital world, 2008 was the first year that, in terms of customer usage, internet search surpassed the Yellow Pages. That year, internet search claimed 31% of all local search inquiries for a commercial business.
Since then, this has only increased, especially with the widespread adoption of smart phones. A phone book used to be helpful because flipping through the pages was the most convenient way to access information for local businesses. Now it is less convenient to find the phone book and look something up, when you can just search what you are looking for in Google and find millions of results, ranked in order, in less than a second.
Because of this changing trend, businesses are adjusting their marketing dollars, putting more money and effort in internet marketing and less in print. The Yellow Pages has now introduced an online directory to pair with their print listings, but the cost does not equal the value, as the same price of yellow pages ad can be contributed to your internet marketing budget. Internet marketing can help increase your organic search engine ranking, making it easier to find you, for those who are searching for your products or services. Wells Fargo/Wachovia has forecasted a 40% drop in print and online spending on Yellow Pages over the next 4 years.
A few reasons on why this is expected to happen include:
Exposure – Yellow Page ads are distributed in a specific geographic area, as opposed to globally, the way internet marketing does. This might not matter as much if all of your business is only local, but for the millions of businesses trying to reach a larger population, this is a deal breaker.
Longevity – The Yellow Pages sell their ads in time increments, and as soon as your ad expires, it disappears, unless you pay to renew it. Internet marketing has longer lasting effects, since your web presence isn’t determined by someone else’s print schedule.
ROI – Internet marketing makes it simple and easy to track the success of your internet marketing campaign using various analytics tools such as Google Analytics. With print marketing, it is more difficult to calculate an actual return on investment, but with online web data, you can track every penny of your investment and see and calculate the value of your keywords, search terms and web presence.
Convenience – As I mentioned earlier, the concept of what is convenient has drastically changed since Yellow Pages’ popular days. Now, it is inconvenient that the yellow pages doesn’t fit in your pocket, and actually takes effort to find what you are looking for. Mobile technologies are becoming increasingly convenient, taking less effort to find what you search for, while producing more informed search results.
Overall, it’s clear that search is moving away from print very quickly and becoming solely an internet based function. Internet marketing gains more exposure with lasting, measurable results that bring in business and help companies grow.