Talking about the value of the Print Yellow Pages is difficult these days. It is not a matter of producing evidence of performance— that is surprisingly easy. In a world that is thriving on digital innovation and simultaneous multi-channel accessibility, the perception that nobody is using the Print medium is commonplace. Everybody is online or on a smartphone or iPad. There is a new form of prejudice— against consumers that continue to use Print Directories. Users are now being shamed into silence. Directional Media studies like the annual study DAC does with Kantar indicates that although some Print directory usage has shifted online where search engines garner the majority of traffic (72%), there are Directory categories that garner prolific traffic.
In what universe?— marketers ask. Well, in the alternate universe called reality. Consumers are still reaching for the Print Directory when looking for a plumber, pest control professional or a mover. Categories vary according to both geography and the demographic profile of consumers. They tend to live in smaller metropolitan areas rather than large cities and tend to profile older in age and wealthier in income. It is a demographic that is both growing as boomers continue to age. It is not true for every category or geography and that is why testing is key. In order to ensure directory ads are making the phone ring, advertisers should place test lines in their ads. Test, evaluate and if performance warrants it, renew. Eventually more usage will shift online, but as our population continues to age, it seems foolish to ignore those who continue to let their fingers do the walking in the Print directory. Why not capture consumers both online and offline as they continue to use many sources to access business information at the point of purchase? Trying to capture a broad market makes sense—especially if you can track your return-on-investment.
Sandy Scopa, Research Director