Should I renew my yellow pages ad?

July 29th, 2010 by Amy Arnold

Last week I was asked by one of my client’s about her yellow pages ad which was up for renewal.  Hmmm … my response was half-hearted and I waffled a little.

Yes, the yellow pages industry is dying, some would argue it’s dead.

Unused and unwanted.

But a part of me hesitates at completely dropping out of the book.

What I would love to say is “keep your ad or an ad because the yellow pages gives you a free backlink in their online product with any paid ad,” but this is not the case.  It is my personal experience in my local market and my observation in other markets that the yellow pages sales people are not offering a free backlink in the online product with the purchase of an ad in print book. One must pay to be in the print book and pay to be included in the online directory too.

And even if you pay for it, how valuable is that backlink from deep within the yellow pages online directory?  Apparently, not very.  I checked a few different tools for the online directory page where my client would appear if she paid to be included in the online directory, and the page has a 0 (zero) value.

Also, the backlinks are nofollowed. Wow.  Talk about about a waste of advertisers money and about a wasted opportunity by the teleco.

So my suggestion to the client was half-hearted … decrease your big expensive display ad for a smaller in-column ad so you’re not totally out of the book just for the few people who are still using the print product.  She looked at some internal data, and came back with feedback saying she has gotten no patients from a yellow pages referral so she was dropping her yellow ages ad.  I have no data to advise her otherwise, and really, it’s probably a sound move.

In LA too they throw the printed phonebook right away to the trash

Yellow pages sales people have always offered call tracking, but on a limited basis – only to those clients who were waffling on renewing that giant display ad.  What they could be doing is dropping a call tracking number in the every ad over some benchmark value (say $1,500.00 because that would include some of the more elaborate in-column ads) and adding a tracking website URL into the ad.  Together, these tracking mechanisms would give some real data for advertisers to make this renewal decision.  But I know that the real data is probably more hurtful to the renewal rate than having no data.

In comparison, at Search Influence (where a few of us grew up in yellow pages a few years ago),  we understand the need for tracking, for constant proof of our value.  We track form data.  We track phone calls from organic traffic and from paid traffic.  We track all kinds of stuff so we can give real ROIs.  We do this all of the time, and at least every month.  Proving our value every month, month after month, definitely keeps us on our toes, and we share the successes with our clients because of that accountability.

Thanks to Sabrina Tang and lejoe for the great pictures!