Superstorm Sandy Drove Yellow Pages Usage
Back in August I blogged about how our testing program for a waterproofing client gave us a clear view of the effectiveness of print Yellow Pages after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee hit the East Coast and mid-Atlantic region late in the summer of 2011.
Calls to the advertiser’s tracked lines went through the roof in the months that followed the storms, registering in 220% more calls in September 2011 than in the previous September, despite the fact that we were tracking 25% less lines. Call counts stayed higher than usual for the months that followed, gradually coming back to average levels early in 2012. Undoubtedly there was a lot of residual cleanup to do after the storms passed through, lasting months after the initial impact, and our call data reflects that. And while we don’t have any proof of this, it’s not a stretch to assume that some of the later callers were among those that had suffered losses and recovered, then decided to take preventative action on their newly restored properties.
In late October 2012, many of the same areas were hit with another major storm, this time Superstorm Sandy. I was interested to see how our testing would look this time around, given that the worst damage was once again within our client’s main market area. At first glance, the results weren’t nearly as obvious as they were after Irene, but the damage this time around was concentrated more in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, rather than being widespread across the advertiser’s entire market area.
However, when I dug down into regional data, it was apparent that the storm had an impact on call volumes to the advertiser’s test lines in the most affected areas. The rise began in late October, even before the storm hit, which could indicate that the advance warning of the storm provided by weather experts may have led to preventative maintenance calls. In fact, looking at data across all markets, calls started to rise on October 25th, four days before the storm hit, and remained high through November 8th.
In looking at individual regions, we can see that calls increased dramatically. In Maryland, there were twice as many calls per active test line in October than in September. The rate remained nearly steady for November as well. Calls for each month were just about double normal levels. New Jersey saw a similar jump, with double the calls and over 40% more calls per test line. Interestingly, New York didn’t see a rise until November, at which point they saw a 47% jump in calls and a 77% jump in calls per test line. The delay may be attributable to numerous power outages in the area and that it took a while for a lot of people to return to their homes. Based on what we saw in the aftermath of Irene, we can certainly assume that this jump in activity may continue well into December and beyond, as well.
The phone lines used in these tests were unique to print Yellow Pages directories, so we know that these calls were all the direct result of a print Yellow Pages reference. While we’re all well aware that our society is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, this call data shows that the print Yellow Pages are still very much in use, particularly when life events (or major superstorms) strike.
Amy Rybczynski, Marketing Research Analyst