Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Bad News for the Yellow Page Industry

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A new Borrell Associates study estimates the Yellow Page industry will lose '39% of its annual revenue over the next five years, amounting to a loss of $5 billion in annual revenue by 2013.' While this statistic is startling, the majority or our 525,000 merchants over the last few years have been directly telling us they have NOT seen a return-on-investment from their YP ads. That's not to say YP ads don't have value, because in a lot of communities they still do. In fact, some of our best merchants are finding customers with their YP ads AND their MerchantCircle ads.

Michael Ortega of MC Leathersmiths in Bellemont, AZ says:

"We used to run newspaper ads and large Yellow Page ads - we've now downsized our Yellow Page ads and stopped newspaper ads altogether. It was like flushing money down the toilet. With the economy being so bad, I don't know why every company is not taking advantage of MerchantCircle's free services."

While the Borrell report does not directly say the loss is coming from an exodus to digital advertising, it does say YP sales staff are being retrained to sell interactive products. We've written two posts before that generated a high amount of interest from local business owners and YP insiders, who continue to argue the lasting value of print. While we don't argue that YP still has value, it would seem the industry would be better suited trying to satisfy their customers.

In speaking with our merchants on an almost daily basis, the big complaints are the high-cost associated and how YP sales reps consistently try to package their print and digital offerings together AND in long-term contracts.

Luttra Lewis of Girlfriends - The Salon in Olathe, KS says:

"I couldn't wait for my contract to end. I probably spent about $8,000 to $10,000 a year advertising in print and broadcast and saw very little return on my investment. The internet has been the most cost-effective and proven. MerchantCircle has really helped me grow my business and find a larger audience."

To avoid further loss, we continue to believe the YP industry needs to flip the script, while keeping their merchants happy.

Kevin L.
Community Relations


  1. I love the image for this article!

    If I am in a situation where I don’t have the internet, I use my cell phone and call 411. I know that a “print phone book” has paid advertisers in it… and just because someone does not pay for advertising it does not mean they do not exist! It might just mean they didn’t give in to the guy dressed in a suit made of motel drapes peddling an ancient form of paid advertising.

  2. We have never used yellow page advertising and will most likely never use it in the future, it seems a big price for a small return.