Mom and Pop Still Not Advertising Online

As reported on AllThingsD.com those small business/mom-and-pop shops still aren’t flocking to the Web with their advertising.  According to a new survey conducted last fall by the Boston Consulting Group only 3 percent of small-business ad dollars are going online.

The numbers come from a survey of 550 small companies, and shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to anyone who has watched the struggle many US based publishers have had trying to break into the digital ad market for many, many years.

As the article author Peter Kafka notes:

“..With the notable exception of Groupon and other daily deal companies, most of the Internet guys like to advertise their advertising on the Internet. And their platonic ideal for a transaction is the self-serve model, where humans never have to talk to each other. Meanwhile lots of traditional business still gets done in analog form, via phone calls and feet on the street”

and even those “no-one-uses-them-anymore”print Yellow Pages which continue to see increased call tracking volume year over year.

Granted that when small businesses do spend their money, Google is drawing the majority of it (according to BCG), with the popularity of other sites ranked this way:

  • “Other” search engines,
  • Yelp,
  • Facebook,
  • Yahoo! Local,
  • YP.com (formerly yellowpages.com),
  • Twitter,
  • LinkedIn, and
  • Superpages.com

Does this mean that many Yellow Page publishers are chasing a digital mirage, or is it a tsunami just waiting to happen????

My take: 

  1. Print is still faster (do a test to find an emergency plumber in your town who provides free estimates on weekends, has been in business at least 10 years, and has a Better Business Bureau rating),
  2. Easier (no Internet or mobile connection needed)
  3. Print ads provide greater context especially for products/services you buy infrequently (e.g. a replacement roof) – you find out a lot more from a full page ad than an in-column ad.  It sends a message to the consumer

Don’t get me wrong – love the Internet and mobile.  They are great for research.  But when it comes to a real local buying decision — print does more, and better.  Over time, things may change.  But first Mom and Pop need to see that more business is coming from digital before they will make the leap.

Yellow Pages = print, online, and mobile

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