How The Yellow Pages Are Changing

It’s that time of year when the new phone books come out in our area; I have three observations:

First, for one of the books, this year’s installment contains no residential section, just a business listing section and the yellow pages. On the cover, there’s an unobtrusive instruction to go to their Web site for residential listings.

That seems strange. They need people to use their book to give value to the advertisements that appear in it, yet they give people one more reason to not use it. True, the residential white pages generate very little revenue and are an added expense, so for the short-term, it seems like a no-brainer to eliminate them. But for the long term, they are doing themselves harm.

The second thing is that the two major books used to both be issued in August. A few years ago, one of them moved up their distribution to July. This serves to distinguish them from their main competition, but I’m not sure if it’s better to first the first book out or the last. One thought is the first book out will be used, while the second book is discarded as unneeded. The alternate school of thought is that when each new book comes out, the existing one — regardless of the provider — is tossed in favor of the new one. With this perspective, the first book would be used for one month and then replaced with the second book, which would be used for eleven months.

The third item is that there is a third book in our market, provided by the local phone company. It is small and inconsequential; it is generally disregarded. With the Yellow Pages not being as useful or as often used as in the past, there is no point in even considering a market’s number three book; even the second book (with no residential listings) has decreasing value.