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It wasn't all that long ago that most Americans' fingers took at least one weekly "walk" through the Yellow Pages (YP), those massive directories plunked on our doorsteps at the same time every year by the local phone company. Although many of us still receive printed books, they're mere shadows of their former selves as the search function has gone digital in a big way – and many are merely tossed into landfills, recycled, or stuck in the back of a drawer somewhere.
That's not to say that the former YP publishers have rolled over and gone away. They all boast some online presence and are now competing with online search companies for the dollars they previously enjoyed as a virtual monopoly in most markets.

Database and directory publishers generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of print advertising space. Due to changing consumer preferences, digital media has increasingly replaced print media as a source of news and entertainment. Businesses have reduced investment in print advertisements, shifting their focus to digital publication advertisements. This shift has impacted industry revenue and forced operators to increasingly publish online.

Sites the received the most monthly visitors in the United States: 

  • Google - 276 Million
  • Microsoft - 244 Million
  • Facebook - 237 Million

(Source: Statista, 2023)

Millions of people have handheld devices in their possession daily and use them to search for everyday necessities and curiosities. 

  • In April 2023, Google accounted for 95% of the mobile search market in the United States.

(Source: Statista, May 2023)

Online reviews have an important addition in local search. Consumers are relying on reviews during their path to purchase.

  • 46% of U.S. adults who plan to make a major purchase always do research on the internet first.
  • 45% of U.S. adults find that customer reviews are very helpful.

(Source: Global Consumer Survey April 2022)

The internet and its search features allow people to connect with products and services in an instant.

  • 53% of U.S. respondents use search engines as a source to get information about products.

(Source: Statista, November 2023)

Most effective methods for requesting reviews, according to consumers:

  • 34% prefer email
  • 33% prefer in-person
  • 32% prefer receipt or invoice

(Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Survey, 2023)

While the Yellow Pages directories were at one time a regular source for consumers seeking information on businesses and local services.

  • In the past year, 12% of adults 18+ have referred to internet yellow pages.
    • 7% have referred to paper yellow pages.

    (Source: 2023 MRI-Simmons Spring Doublebase)

    The digitally connected world has hugely expanded choices for accessing information and has taken search to mobile consumer. Consumers in cars and on the street can quickly access information through search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing -- and those are just starting points.

    • 86% of A18+ visited a search engine on their mobile device/smartphone/Tablet in the last 30 days
    • 68% of A18+ search for information about a product
    • 49% of A18+ visted a website for local information
    • 3% of A18+ called directory assistance

    (Source: 2023 MRI-Simmons Spring Doublebase)

    • 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses
    • 37% of consumers only leave positive reviews.
    • 6% of consumers only leave negative reviews.
    • 4% of consumers never leave reviews.

    (Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey 2023)

  • Top 3 review sites or apps used in 2022
    • Google - 87%
    • Yelp - 48%
    • Facebook - 46%

    (Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey 2023)

  • 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2022, up from 81% in 2021.
  • (Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey 2023)

  • How often consumers have used the internet to find information about a local business within the last year:
    • 32% say multiple times a week.
    • 24% say at least once a week.
    • 21% say everyday.
    • 14% say at least once a month.
    • 7% say less than once a month.
    • 2% say not at all.

    (Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey 2023)

    Ubiquitous: Virtually everyone is aware of the Yellow Pages and/or familiar with online search, and one format or the other is available 24/7
    Curated: All businesses that offer similar products or services are compiled within specific classifications, making for easy comparisons
    Current: Internet Yellow Pages and other online local search sources can be updated frequently, displaying the most recent applicable information and promotions
    In Demand: Weather paper or digital, search ads will be seen by consumers who are already interested in purchasing or using a product or service
    Habit: Consumers are habituated to using paper or online search functions for help in locating businesses. They look for the category and are provided with a list of companies that are available to meet their requirements
    Accessible Anywhere: Online directories and search functions on mobile phones make it increasingly easy for consumers who are out and about to look up references for a type of business to meet their needs

    Clutter: Whether using print or digital advertising, even a costly display ad can get lost among all the others for the same product or service. And the cluttered environment provides potential customers with many opportunities for comparison shopping
    Dated: Printed Yellow Pages are set for the year once they are printed. (Digital search and Internet Yellow Pages allow more flexibility to present current information as needed.)
    Limited Exposure: Consumers only see most print and online search ads when they are actively looking for a business referral, so there's no build-up of frequency of your name and information
    Lack of Mobility: Print Yellow Pages are typically viewed in the home or at the workplace, not out of home; payphones are nearly non-existent today. Online search makes search very mobile, but many consumers – especially older adults – don't access the digital functions

    Awareness: Many consumers already have a business name in mind when they turn to the PYP. Maintaining a radio ad schedule will make sure people have been exposed to messaging about your business and insure top of mind awareness among future prospects in the market. Consumers can't turn on the radio to research businesses when they are ready to buy, but if they've been exposed continually to radio ads, your business will be on their mind when they turn to local search
    Radio drives web traffic to business websites after ad commercial exposure. In analyses of AnalyticOwl data, radio increased new visitor traffic:
    • 9% for jewelry retailers
    • 5% for auto service businesses
    • 2% for healthcare practitioners
    • 4% for lawn and garden retailers/services

    (Source: AnalyticOwl category analyses 2022-2023)

    Exposure: Ads in the PYP are not seen until a consumer is consciously looking for information. Ads on radio are intrusive and reach consumers every day, conveying your business's unique selling proposition and providing a known name when search begins
    Flexibility: Once the paper Yellow Pages are printed, a business's message is set for the year. Ads on radio can be changed periodically to focus consumers on different aspects of the business, including sales and location, that they'll recall when referencing the PYP when a need arises
    Mobility: Radio listeners frequently hear advertising in cars and they also make decisions on where to shop, eat, etc. while driving. The ability to now to search for a business online lends immediacy for follow-up to message heard on the radio

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