Survey Says Yellow Pages Still the Best Local Media Source

Posted 03/30/2010 - 10:42 by Editor

From YP Talk, by KenC Consulting LLC

3/25/2010 - The Yellow Pages Association and two research partners (Burke and comScore) have just released a new "Local Media Tracking Study". The new survey data again reinforces that print Yellow Pages and its sister Internet Yellow Pages products continue to produce the greatest audience of any medium for consumers seeking local business information.

Here are some of the key findings:

Reach:

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The percentage of those surveyed who said they had used print Yellow Pages within the last month increased 12% over the same period last year from 51.5% in the first quarter to 57.6% in the fourth quarter. This increase in usage progressed during the year -- first quarter average was 0.93 references per U.S. adult per week and grew in the fourth quarter to 1.11 references per adult per week. Has a slow economy increased the need of consumers to shop more carefully, and look more locally?

Trust:

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Always a cornerstone of the value of Yellow Page print products, the study found that Yellow Pages are still recognized as the most trustworthy and accurate source of local information. A healthy 67% said "print or Internet Yellow Pages are the source they trust most for finding local business information, compared to 33 percent for search engines." Given some of the news of nasty things that you have heard about the Internet, I would hope this shouldn't surprise you.

Regarding data and listings accuracy, "print and Internet Yellow Pages similarly scored highest with 68 percent, followed by search engines with 32 percent." Traditionally if a consumer knows a business exists, but doesn't find them in the print product, they view it as a deficiency on the part of the business for not being listed. For the same scenario in digital products, it is viewed as a product failure.

Usage:
The percentage of those surveyed who said they had used print Yellow Pages within the last month increased 12% from 51.5% in the first quarter to 57.6% in the fourth quarter. This increase in usage progressed during the year -- first quarter average was 0.93 references per U.S. adult per week and grew in the fourth quarter to 1.11 references per adult per week.

Similar results were also found in recent SuperMedia research. Because the print products are distributed free and don't require any type of Internet connection, could a really rough economy which is hitting consumers from all angles make that free, complete, comprehensive shopping source even more valuable? Has the growth that SuperMedia has found come from the heavy TV promotion of its SuperGuarantee product after a number of years of much more limited TV promotional advertising?
Not to be forgotten, the frequency of Internet Yellow Pages usage grew 24% from the first quarter (0.54 references per week per adult) to the fourth quarter (0.67 references per week per adult).

In total, consumers referenced print and Internet Yellow Pages 16.9 billion times in 2009

Of course those naysayers who don't believe that any research that is paid for by the media being measured can be authentic and can't truely be independent research will complain about all of these findings. One of the liveliest debates so far has been over on Greg Sterling's blog (link).

The biggest argument is that print Yellow Pages is less popular with the 18-24 demographic than other age categories. Ok, let's be real - who has the true spending power in this country, the older demographics, or the 18-24 year old group?? Is that younger group going through the life events that drive spending - getting married, having children, buying homes, traveling, trying to finance college, etc. etc. etc.

There is no doubt that consumers use a variety of information sources when they shop. And there is also little doubt that this is an even more complex marketplace given the current state of the economy. But the message the industry needs to bring to small/midsized businesses, is you can't ignore a medium that is still being used by a large percentage of your customer base. And print Yellow Pages is still a solid, preferred information choice by those that are buying, and buying locally.