In September of last year, Australian Yellow Pages Publisher Sensis launched an online opt-out service titled “Directory Select” for those households that didn’t want to receive a printed book. The company commented that to date, only about 0.3 percent of households have opted out of the books.
Chief operating officer Gerry Sutton commented that “… it’s extremely small, relatively speaking… We don’t see any great groundswell at this stage of people deciding they don’t need books… but we expect that it will progressively increase over time.”
If you listen to some of the bloggers, they will tell you no one wants these “outdated”, “antiquated”, “horse and buggy” era products. But if that was the case, why aren’t more people stopping the book delivery??????
The company also noted their efforts to source paper from sustainable plantations, to reduce emissions and offset the rest have results in both the Yellow Pages and the White Pages being certified carbon neutral.
Could we have another perception vs. reality situation here? In a post from last October, I noted several similar trends occurring in other parts of the world:
At the recent BIA/Kelsey 2010 DMS conference, several speakers talked about the results of their eco-oriented efforts which yielding some interesting trends:
- In France, as reduced usage in large metro areas was beginning to occur (as expected — consumers in cities have the shortest distances to go to shop) instead of continuing to distribute a massive multi-county book, the French YP reduced the number of headings in its big city books and took out the B2B headings (which are usually accessed online from work). Surprise, some interesting trends developed after these changes:
- Overall usage for the print Yellow Pages leveled off in those city areas, but still at high usage levels – 71% of consumers still used print, and 63% used online. Obviously both numbers include people that use both.
- In 2009, of the 30k visitors to their opt-out site (out of a total metro population of about 12 million, or more importantly 0.25% of the population) a total of 47% of the requests were for OPT-IN, while 53% asked to opt-out. In 2010, the numbers reversed themselves with OPT-IN requests rising to 56% while opt-out dropped to 44%.
- In Great Britain/UK – for every opt out request they got, 10 others who wanted a book.
- In the US, DEX indicated it’s opt out rate is running at less than 1%. For door hangers left at residences confirming they had requested to be left out of the book distribution, 5% actually contacted DEX requesting a book be delivered.
So when you see all the ranting that these print directories are dinosaurs and never used, take it with a grain of salt and notice who is saying it. It usually is some start-up entrepreneurial online group with a technology in search of a market. And who has the big market share they would love a piece of?? The print Yellow Pages market of course.