The Yellow Pages Association just released new consumer survey data regarding reach, total references and trust of the Yellow Pages medium (print and online) versus other sources of local search information.
From a reach perspective: “65 percent said they referenced print and/or Internet Yellow Pages within the past month when looking for local business information. Search engines scored second with 58 percent, flyers/coupons were 38 percent, newspapers were 33 percent, and magazines were 14 percent. When analyzed individually, print Yellow Pages were 54 percent and Internet Yellow Pages were 33 percent.”
On references: “consumers referenced print and Internet Yellow Pages 16.9 billion times in 2009”. That would be 4.9 billion online and 12 billion in print. Based on my experience, I suspect search engines local references are much higher than that though.
On trust: “More than two-thirds of consumers (67 percent) said that print or Internet Yellow Pages is the source they trust most for finding local business information, compared to 33 percent for search engines”
Discussing with Larry Small, YPA’s Research Director, he offered these additional data points.
- Media usage mirrored the economy, Usage increased in the later portion of 2009 and this probably bodes well for 2010.
- I was also curious about branded searches (known merchant name or product brand) vs. non-branded searches (keywords or categories). Clearly, a big difference here between search engines and online directories. Intuitively, I’ve always thought that consumers use search engines for known merchants, to find their address, phone number or driving directions while they use an online directory for shopping and they need to see a selection of options and data from ComScore below seems to directionally confirm this.
- I also asked for data on specific age groups and also for friends/family references (word-of-mouth). When you drill down on “past month reach by age”, you find additional nuggets of information. Younger people use search engines and ask their friends/family for advice.
What it means: There is a huge debate on the validity of these numbers happening on Greg Sterling’s blog. Personally, I have no doubt the Yellow Pages category, when combining print and online is still number one in reach. After all, it was the trusted source of local business information for many decades and you see it’s still number one for the 55+ and pretty much tied for number one in the 35-54 age group. I believe we’re seeing a generational usage change. Google was created only 10 years ago and it takes a long time to see significant impacts when those shifts happen (see The Boring Age for a discussion on the pace of technology shifts). I’m also impressed (not surprised though) by the power of friend/family in the search for a local recommendation. I believe the rise of social media will provide consumers tools to help with the gathering of shopping feedback/opinions and users will realize it’s easier to ask your friends/family (and you get better referrals) than with search engines. By embracing social media technology, directory publishers can regain the upper hand becoming the place where you find apps/tools to mine your friends and familiy’s opinions. Imagine a world where the friend/family & PYP/IYP numbers are combined. I’m sure it beats search engines and that’s the real opportunity for directory publishers.