The most popular question I've been asked by co-workers, associates and friends upon my arrival has been "why did you leave the Yellow Pages?". The question doesn't appear ominous until you consider the smug look on their faces. Immediately, I know what they're thinking. They've read Bill Gates' now infamous quote "Yellow Pages usage among people below 50 will drop to near zero in the next five years." Their perception is that I jumped from a sinking ship. This couldn't be further from the truth.
It reminds me of a scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail....
Bill Gates has been wrong before. In 1981 he predicted 640K of memory should be enough for anybody.
Ask yourself, do you own a stove and a microwave? Why? They both do the same thing. With due respect to Mr. Gates, the VCR didn't replace movie theaters, TV didn't replace radio, and the Internet will not be replacing the printed Yellow Pages within 5 years.
In fact, according to the Kelsey Group, in 2006, worldwide, Yellow Pages generated estimated revenues of US$30.5 billion and that Print Yellow Pages will stay level globally over the next five years with a share of the total global advertising pie standing at 7.1 percent.
Since moving over, I've looked at enough analytics reports to know this, while IYP doesn't generate the traffic search engines do, it does bring in an engaged audience that spend more time on a site, view more pages and produce bounce rates up to half that of Google.
In addition, I'm aware of YP print to web tracking that demonstrates quite a number of Canadians are turning to print directories, spotting URLs from local businesses in the ads and, instead of calling, they're typing the website into the browser. Clearly, the value of print is greater than just the calls they're producing and the perception most have.
You want proof consumers are changing with the times? 20 years ago Stereo and Hi-Fi Equipment-Repair and Adding Machine Supplies were top Yellow Pages headings, today, according to the Yellow Pages Association, Tutoring, Tattooing and Internet Service Providers are.
If you're a small business today, it's not a question of choosing online Vs print. You should be budgeting for both!