Yes, People Do Still Really Use The Yellow Pages

Image courtesy of André-Pierre

Can you remember the last time you used the Yellow Pages? No, not as a doorstop or a booster seat, but as an actual resource? I know, we have the internet, but there are some folks out there still consulting a big yellow book full of phone numbers, and businesses who still take out display ads in the hopes of attracting customers.

The Yellow Pages is still hanging in there around the country, The Wall Street Journal reports in a look at the book’s status in New York City: according to the Local Search Association, print business phone directories are a $3 billion industry, with a full 40% of Americans consulting one at least once a year.

Though rural areas see more use in the Yellow Pages, in NYC, 13% of people check the book at least once a week.

“It’s profitable, absolutely,” LSA President Neg Norton told the WSJ.

But it’s not going to be a growing business at this point, as the publisher of the Yellowbook directories in NYC cut its Brooklyn and Manhattan editions. Dex Media, publisher of Verizon directories, serves all five boroughs but no longer has Spanish-language or neighborhood editions.

These are not the heavy door-thwackers of the past, either — the books have gone on a diet, as most retail advertisers have turned to the internet in the digital age. So who is still advertising? Service providers like electricians, accident lawyers, and pest-control specialists, the WSJ notes.

One reason print-directory publishers have stayed in business is by bundling print ads with online listings and digital marketing services.

And when it comes to targeting older customers or consumers who want to spend on a service, the print directory is the way to go, some say. For example, one of NYC’s biggest yellow-ages advertisers is a company called EPIC Security. It buys the back cover of the Verizon directory for every borough and also has multiple color ads inside.

President and CEO Mark Lerner tells the WSJ that though he gets teased for advertising in the print directory, he doesn’t mind because it means people saw his ad.

“I’m one of the last guys left who still likes the Yellow Pages,” he says.

How long will the Yellow Pages be delivered, at least in New York? A while, predicts LSA president Norton.

“The folks who are 55 and older will be around for a long time.”

Yellow Pages Hang On in Digital Age [The Wall Street Journal]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.