The Golden Allure of the Yellow Pages

March 22, 2012 Business Week

Michelle DiFeo, owner of DiFeo Glass & Mirror, bought her first yellow pages ad in 2004, the same year Google (GOOG) went public. While online search has exploded since then, DiFeo still takes out color ads in two phone books that cover New York’s Westchester County. She won’t disclose what she pays for the ads but says they’re worth the investment. For her customers, DiFeo says, using a paper directory is “a force of habit.”

Yes, phone books are still around. And while they eventually may succumb to the Internet, they’re not going down without a fight. Publishers threw 422 million directories on America’s lawns and doorsteps last year, according to research firm Simba Information. And businesses paid a collective $6.9 billion for ads in them, according to the market research firm BIA/Kelsey. Combining revenue from print and digital operations, directory companies took in 7.6 percent of all the money spent on advertising in the U.S. in 2011, estimates Simba.

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