And now they want your phonebooks…

A lot of discussion is going on over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government site on a topic near and dear to those of us in the industry – this fanatical
urge to want ban phonebooks
.

Finally, someone presented all of the factors:

:… But is banning the phone book really the best way to save trees? A quick rundown of some key statistics puts two very key holes in the “ban the phone book” theory of  environmental reclamation. First, as it turns out, the Yellow Pages aren’t actually made from five million fresh trees, cut down in their peak to bring the phone book to your door. They’re actually made from mostly recycled material or the byproducts of other paper manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, and inks, and unused directories are “upcycled” into other things. You know that coffee cup that your non-fat soy latte with non-dairy whip comes in every morning, that says it comes from “90% recycled materials?” It’s likely made out of your old phone books.

And although city councils and environmental groups like to pretend  that just because elementary school students and hipsters practically see their laptops as a fifth limb, not everyone uses Google search and Yelp to locate local resources. The Baby Boomer generation, which makes up a huge chunk of American disposable income (and holds nearly 50% of American wealth) uses the Yellow Pages at a staggering rate.  Almost 85% of Boomers picked one up last year to search for a name, address or local resource. And as for that “perpetually connected” generation, Gen Y? Nearly 66% of them used Yellow Pages last year. Nearly 50% of all consumers turn to the Yellow Pages first to get information on businesses in their area. And, of course, that’s leaving out specific statistics on the population that liberals most often forget to consider–lower-income populations. Lower-income populations without continued access to the Internet are the most in need of a resource for directory
assistance…”

In a related item, the Valley Yellow Pages people have also posted a great little YouTube video to further address the many myths that surround the entire green/yellow pages/recycling discussion:  click here.  Every publisher should consider doing a similar clip and making sure their local government officials see it (can we make it required viewing??).

YP Talk has advocated for some time that it is time for this industry to start pushing back, to respond to these egregious accusations/mistruths/flat
out lies, and set the record straight.   Glad to see some progress is finally being made.  But the battle is far from over.  Keep educating your local community on the value that our industry products bring to them.   At the end of day, I doubt you will see any of these environmental zealots looking to help a small business market themselves.  They are too busy looking for the next target to blame.

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5 responses to “And now they want your phonebooks…

  1. It’s not just about saving trees. It’s about giving the consumer quality, accurate information. We’ve thrown out every paper phone book and asked for them not to be delivered. Trouble is we get two or three new YP vendors delivering smaller paper books again. Hard to keep opting-out.

    Since the majority of people are mobile and search either from cell or desktop, why is there a need for them anymore? Besides, paper pages get out-of-date quickly. And there are so many on-line directories that are quite often out-of-date, that’s not much better. A search for anything local turns up so many hits, that it is confusing and time consuming to get at the correct information.

    Why isn’t the industry embracing a standard lookup, like the context-ready facility built right into the .TEL TLD. It uses the DNS internet backbone to store contact information like business names, phone, address, web, email etc. ? One single credible source of information for a business, always current, never out-of-date.

    What the industry needs is a common brokerage service that reads the DNS to maintain accurate on-line directories. But first you need to encourage the .TEL technology by giving each of your customers a .tel presence as part of their contract. Then you can save tons of maintenance time by using the brokerage service to periodically refresh your internal databases with real-time data. What is published in your directory will always be fresh and current.

    And with developments like Apple iPhone 4S with SIRI, a simple voice command like “CALL http://www.mylocalshoeshoe.tel” will connect the user with their local service, doing away with directories. So, you need to own the new technologies, combining .TEL with SIRI.

    How you make money is simple: each directory service becomes a registrar and sells .tel domains to the captive (especially SMB) masses annually. Start using the existing DNS and voice technologies to change the shape of on-line directory searches and compete with Google.

    • Mark:

      Couple of things in response to your comments:
      1) Accuracy: Can’t agree with you on this one. How often have you done an internet search and gotten back nothing at all like what you wanted? The books are in fact more accurate as they come from a direct discussion with the business owner themselves. The internet is updated by whom?? And if you haven’t looked at a book in how many years, how would you know whether they are/aren’t accurate?

      2) Multiple deliveries: I think all publishers would like to know this info so they can be sure devliery is corrected. Have you contacted them?

      3) “Since the majority of people are mobile and search either from cell or desktop, why is there a need for them anymore?” I guess you never bothered to read the Breibart article did you, as you would have noted his exact comments on this: “…And although city councils and environmental groups like to pretend that just because elementary school students and hipsters practically see their laptops as a fifth limb, not everyone uses Google search and Yelp to locate local resources..”, and there are also those who aren’t as wired as you are.

      4) Your comments on a single DNS source sound like a great business opportunity for you. Question is who will pay to fund such a service? Wouldn’t it have to come from those very advertisers who are buying ads in the books you don’t use??

      5) Your comments on the iPhone 4S Siri and .tel are somewhat true, but not everyone has a iPhone (just got mine and it is a wonderful device). I do know the publishers are looking into the .tel concept. More to follow on that probably

  2. Ken:
    1) I’ll agree that when a phone book comes out, it is 99.99% accurate at time of publishing, but towards the end of the year of its life, that accuracy has decreased due to many factors. This leads one to depend more on the internet for accurate information.
    2) Re multiple deliveries, last year I got three phone books from the same publisher because at that time I had 3 phone numbers, one unlisted. Now that’s a waste.
    3) I admit I skimmed the article and stand corrected. Being a baby boomer myself, I still don’t have need for a paper directory, and assumed in my semi-cocooned life that others are more computer literate.
    4) DNS call-by-name solutions should be a business opportunity for those who control the publishing of .tel data across the internet, namely Telnic or better yet, a partnership with the directory publishers who would subscribe to use the service. Right now, the business owner controls their own .tel and wants to keep their contact information accurate for the public to reach them. Their changes automatically go out to the DNS. Just add a directory publisher to tap into an aggregating service for the latest DNS changes, and keep your directories up-to-date. Publishers then would have single real-time source of credible and authoritative contextual contact info. No parsing of websites, filling out of forms, or duplication of data. All provided in context (eg name, phone etc). And pay for it by becoming a registrar of .tel to your own customers.
    5) Yes the iPhone is not in everyone’s hands, but other smart phone manufacturers offer voice recognition features. If built-in at the operating system level, calling the contact at a .tel domain is a simple DNS lookup. Even works for email or online faxing. Here’s my simple voice experiment at http://www.telcall.me (uses Chrome). It needs more of a critical mass of local DNS data to be effective, but you should get the idea. Try saying “justin.tel” or “beerstore”. A bit slow when asking for local results but then it’s just a prototype.

  3. Ken, any comments on the 97% decline of YP Canada’s share value with respect to the above?

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/how-did-yellow-pages-stock-from-17-to-17-cents/article2215954/

    Is there just too much on-line competition now?
    I suspect it will be a new blog post in the making.

    • Mark:

      First, I’m not sure that these days stock prices are a real good indicator any more of a business’s potential — I have a portfolio of supposedly top ranked stocks, most of which are not doing much to help grow my wealth.

      My observation is that the marketplace is now inundated with local advertising “wanna-be’s” who would just love to “help” small/midsized businesses with their advertising programs. Of course, they all will be targeting print yellow pages because they perceive that those revenues are in jeopardy. Yet publishers tell me that their call counts on tracked lines in those books continue to go up. So somebody must be using those books. And with 80+% of those existing print advertisers renewing or increasing their ads each year, I think the predictions of the death of print are very, very premature.

      Obviously, the folks on Wall Street don’t believe that the industry has any near term potential, and hence, are currently not on anyone’s list as a place to invest. Instead, it seems we have people wanting to throw money at the “new” things like Groupon, despite the fact that they still haven’t shown that their ongoing business model is any better. Sexier maybe, but certainly not a given.

      For the longer term, I still believe the yellow page industry is best positioned to work with these local business since: 1) they have an existing local sales team that visits those businesses regularly face-to-face (and not over the phone), 2) still have a larger trust factor, and 3) have an established track record for helping put in to place programs that bring customs to their doors, not just clicks.

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