Another “phone book is dead” prediction

A group called Ron Sachs Communications based in Tallahassee, FL, recently issued a press release with a “stunning” national poll, that “…more than 60 percent of Americans identify the phone book as an increasingly irrelevant source for finding local telephone numbers…” As a result “…its future looks bleak as its obsolescence increases among younger Americans…”

I wish I had a nickel for all these predictions over the last 10+ years.  I’d have more money than Donald Trump…  This poll was supposedly conducted with  1,100 adults as part of another piece of research, but the company offers no insight on how the poll was conducted or the questions used.

Netherless, in the spirit of the recent holiday season, for some ongoing jollies, let’s look at some of their studies findings:

  • Nearly 8 out of 10 people 18-29 years old have no use for the phone book => one of my favorites.  And is that the demographics served by most businesses??  I don’t think so.  How many of you had much money to spend at that age to begin with??  How many of you went thru any of the “life events” which we know drive usage of the print yellow pages during that age??
  • Nearly one quarter of Americans discard their phone books immediately with one third of Americans under the age of 45 reporting they immediately throw away their phone books when delivered to their door => even if these stats are correct, that means 75% of homes keep the books, or for those under 45, 2/3rds have it??  If we compared that to TV viewship, radio, magazines, or any other creative media, what results do you think we’d get there?  Yet businesses continue to toss billions in advertising into each of these media despite their questionable ROI.
  • Nearly half of all respondents expect to use their phone book either much less or not at all in 5 years => Can anyone tell me what the media world will look like in 5 years?  Which devices will we have?  How fast and complete will the internet be?  What’s next after the Internet?  Can you answer any of these even just 3 years out?? How about 2 years?  Businesses advertise in the print yellow pages because they are looking for results NOW, not what may or may not happen in 5 years.  Let the study creator suggests that “…the phone book is on life support and local businesses should expect its death to officially occur some time in the next few years,”.  Bully for you.  I’m glad your crystal ball is that good.  But the reality is that local businesses are only worried about how the next 6 months are going to be for them.

There is no doubt that usage of the print yellow pages is down from what it once was.  We have so many other ways and methods to obtain information these days.  But to suggest that print is dead right now is completely silly.  And even if it was, how does Mr. Sachs think all that stuff about local businesses is going to make to the Internet or our wireless devices??  By osmosis??  No other industry is better positioned to work with small and mid-sized business to help them realize the potential of these many new digital platforms.

No, print isn’t going away tomorrow.  But if, and when its overall usage does drop off, the industry will be ready to help its clients continue to link buyers to those sellers.

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5 responses to “Another “phone book is dead” prediction

  1. What a great article, you really bring out the reality of all the buzz. Thanks for being a voice of reason, I hope millions view this article. Not to mention in alot of markets usage is up. I have advertisers buying print in market size under 500,000 Total Distribution. In this middle sized markets results are booming. YOY we are up 20% in call volumes. The IYP results are also very impressive brining in nearly 50 calls a month using this platform. The products are very solid…when they are bought correctly. I would take the ROI found in print yellow/internet yellow pages and the advanced distribution online that is offered threw Dex against anyone in the marketplace anytime!

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Another “phone book is dead” prediction | YP Talk – The Voice of the Yellow Pages Industry -- Topsy.com

  3. Just keep it simple… all the talk about who uses what or when? Who cares? Only one thing that matters in Advertising… Return On Investment. It dosn’t matter whether print directories are used more now than one, five or 20 years ago… it dosn’t matter if one directory is used more than another or if there is new competition with the Internet or other electronic media… all that matters is this: Do enough people see the add, call, e-mail or visit a website and end up buying… Do the profits from those sales give you a good ROI? The rest is just a bunch of ‘gobbly-goop’. Look the advertiser in the eye and simply point out how they can have “good” representation for just a few dollars a day, in most directories 24/7 – 365 days a year. Where can they get that kind of exposure to ready buyers with any other advertising medium? Yellow Pages may have changed to now include many directory choices and on-line directory options… but it’s still, for service businesses and highly specialized retail… one of the best sources of new and refrerral business out there – Dollar invested VS Dollar Return. Keep it simple… just help the advertiser see the value in putting just a few dollars a day into a well distributed Yellow Page directory and it’s companion on-line product, list your website and e-mail, address and phone number and in most cases advertisers will get a good Return On their Investment. For those businesses that already know this… sell them a half or full page.
    Bob Tacy, Jr. – Founder/President Modern Creative Seminars.

  4. I have noticed many websites that take business information to promote in local markets. I have also noticed that there is no way to delete or alter that information unless the person that placed it makes the change. In short time many internet listings will be obsolete. The owners will have moved or gone out of business. Only the Yellow Pages industry works to maintain their listings up to date.

  5. Pingback: Local Connection » Blog Archive » Another “phone book is dead” Prediction

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