The outlook for the Yellow Pages space is not rosy. This should not be shocking for anybody. For those of you out there following the migration from Yellow Pages to the online space, we continue to see press every day that support the outlook we have been seeing for years now. Here is the scenario broken down in to its most elemental pieces.
1. Consumers are moving away from telephone books in droves. This is happening due to local, mobile and social (SoLoMo) becoming more prevalent. Local, mobile, and social are becoming more prevalent because of pervasive high speed internet connections, smart phones, and tablets. Consumers have “local” information available at their fingertips literally all the time. They carry the availability of the Internet everywhere they go. With a simple mobile browser or a free downloadable app, they can get virtually any piece of information they want. This new way of life creates a tough obstacle for phone books to overcome. On a side note this is also bad news for the current generation of vertically challenged drivers, like I was at 14. Yes, there may have been a phone book in use on my inaugural run back in the day. What are kids going to sit on now? 🙂
2. If there are no consumers using phone books, then it stands to reason that eventually companies will notice. It took a while, but they are noticing. With the recognition, comes a major migration of dollars. When was the last time you picked up your phone book? Do you ever grab your phone book to find a person’s phone number? Do you still use a phone book to find a business? If you are a company, how do you back fill the lead flow that was coming from the phone books in the past? We know the answers to these questions, so do you, and so do businesses.
3. A major migration of dollars away from phone books lead to major book publishers and major advertisers bailing like rats on a sinking ship. The Yell Group has over three billion dollars in debt due in two years and they are currently operating at a loss. They are not alone.
So have any of you ever seen The Jerk with Steve Martin? If so, I leave you with this. Would Navin Johnson have this same excitement over the phone book today? Or would he be more in line with Harry Hartounian?
Navin R. Johnson: “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here! ”
Harry Hartounian: “Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing.”
Navin R. Johnson: “Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 – Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity – your name in print – that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.”