Old Skool: Why Print Yellow Pages Are Still Worth Considering as Part of Your Lead Generation Programs

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So is it worth advertising in the Yellow Pages print directory today? It's no secret that the volume of calls advertisers receive from the yellow pages has declined significantly over the years. This is not a trend likely to reverse itself, but as the cost of advertising on local search and directories continues to increase, the yellow pages can be another way to drive high-quality calls at a price often less than what you would pay per click. Will it last forever? Not a chance. But don't let the perception that yellow pages is dead prevent you from using print to drive incremental call volume in the near term.

The print Yellow Pages saw a large decline in usage during the recession. The housing market collapsed and the economy was unstable. Consumers weren't spending. However, as the economy recovered, so did the call volume received by Yellow Pages advertisers. By 2011, two out of three Yellow Page advertisers noticed an increase in calls, according to the Association of Directory Publishers. This rise was much stronger for print than for the Internet Yellow Pages. In 2013, the president and CEO of Market Authority, Steve Sitton, cautioned small and medium businesses to pay attention to how the print Yellow Pages can work for them. The company's analysis of small, medium, and rural markets showed that the migration from print Yellow Pages to digital local search was only a meager 3.24 percent in 2012, and a majority of consumers were using both print and digital search media.

According to the LSA Local Media Tracking 2015 Study, seven out of 10 consumers will use the Yellow Pages to call a business. About half of Yellow Page users who open up the phone directory become curious and will start looking at other ads. They tend to look at nearly five ads before they make a decision, and they are giving those ads their full attention. Sixty percent of people who turn to the Yellow Pages end up purchasing something from a business they found in the yellow pages.

The following data from CRM Associates as of August 2015 demonstrates how Yellow Page ads deliver prospects at a sustainable ad cost compared to other local advertising alternatives.

  • Average Ad Cost per Call ($)
  • Local Display Ad $25
  • National Display Ad (volume greater) $28
  • National Trademark Ad $9
  • Companion Directory Display $9
  • Internet Yellow Pages $19

CRM Associates shares the return on ad spend (ROAS) to be $3.50. In other words, the local display ads produce, on average, $3.50 of profit for each dollar spent on Yellow Pages, and these amounts increase for other ad sizes.

Some people still rely on the Yellow Pages print directory to connect with local businesses. They'll intuitively pick up the print book to skim the pages for restaurants, medical assistance, and home and auto repairs. It remains a powerful medium for some industries, especially home services, offering consumers the contact information they need to make a decision when and wherever needed. Most yellow pages programs today combine a subscription model, with some form of pay for performance in the form of pay per call and most publishers provide programs that let you take advantage of their digital products as part of a comprehensive program.

At DAS Group, we monitor all calls and call outcomes for our clients from all sources of advertising placed. Print yellow pages has continued to be included as one of our recommendations based on the return on ad spend (ROAS) our clients still receive. Even though our primary business today is search, display and mobile, we often find ourselves explaining to clients why they may not want to write it off completely yet.