The yellowbook directory yellow pages and business white pages amounted to about 75% less paper in the recent 2013-2014 yellowbook delivery than for the similar delivery of the 2009 yellowbook. Relative to 2011, the standardized listing count was down 38% for yellow pages and 20% for business white pages. As in previous years, the changes were primarily in page size and print size, not in the number of pages (book thickness). Thickness for all kind of books is ironically associated with perceived value.
Yellowbook may be moving to a 2-year publication cycle. The yellowbook delivered about this time in 2011 was labeled just “2011”. I didn’t see any 2012 yellowbooks and hence never got one. This year the yellowbook is labeled “2013 2014.” Perhaps that means that no yellowbook will appear about this time next year.
Most residents in my apartment complex do not bother to pick up the directories that are delivered to the entryways of the complex. In previous years, the number of books delivered was equal to the number of units in my apartment complex. This year, the number of books delivered was half the number of units. That implies an aggregate yellowbook paper weight reduction of 75% relative to the 2009 delivery.
Means for halting wasteful delivery of yellow pages directories aren’t working effectively. The 2013-2014 yellowbook features prominently on the upper right corner “To stop delivery of this directory visit www.yellowpagesoptout.com” That website allows you to register for which directories you would like to receive, e.g. an implicit personal opt-out. To use this opt-out from unrequested yellowbook delivery, you have to provide personal information, including at least an email address. Most residents in my apartment complex apparently prefer the simpler and more private approach of ignoring the directories and letting condo management place them in the recycling bin. But overall, that’s environmentally and economically wasteful.[*]
The front page of the 2013-2014 yellowbook again has Sam & Sons Services (electrical, handyman, plumbing) in a front-cover refrigerator magnet position. Sam & Sons also had this advertising position in the 2011 book. The telephone number listed on the refrigerator magnet is no different than the telephone number listed on Sam & Sons webpage, hence Sam & Sons cannot be measuring the performance of its ad via call-counts on a dedicated number. However, the refrigerator magnet says “Free $25 gas card / present this magnet with any purchase.” That’s a well-established means for monitoring the performance of an ad. If Sam & Sons is accurately calculating its return on its yellowbook front-cover refrigerator magnet, then its repeated use of it indicates that the advertising has a positive return on expenditure.
Yellow pages print directories have been a highly successful business since the 1920s. Given general trends in the communications industry, paper directory advertising probably doesn’t have much of a future. The challenges of communications industry changes, however, are not just for old advertising media. The shift in Internet use from big-screen computers to small smart phones presents major challenges for online advertisers.
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- long-run yellow pages directory advertising data
- the rise of e-books
- long-run economic history of printed music (sheet music)
Note [*]: Such waste is common. The majority of pages of printed books that are purchased are probably never read. Many persons buy clothes that they almost never wear. However, at least one socially conscious and virtuous senior citizen wears the same overalls every day. If everyone would follow his example, the earth’s natural environment would be much less ravaged.