Sunday, November 14, 2010

If You Don't Use White, Why Would You Use Yellow?

I'm not a fan of the yellow pages (or the white pages, for that matter), which show up on your doorstep unbidden. I've managed to opt out successfully, so far.

1960s line drawing of for business men who can be found through the Yellow Pages
This vintage illustration by advertising agency BBDO graced today's Star Tribune. I admit it gave me a twinge of nostalgia for the time when I was glad the yellow pages were available. But it's been a while.

Friday's Pioneer Press carried an AP story about the death of phone books. Recently, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania okayed Verizon's request to stop carpet-bombing the white pages onto residential doorsteps. They've already stopped or are about to stop delivery in 12 other states. I wonder when Qwest will follow suit?

The story says that land lines are being disconnected at a rate of almost 10 percent each year. Since cell phones are not listed in the white pages, the directories are becoming practically useless:

...a survey conducted for SuperMedia Inc. by Gallup shows that between 2005 and 2008, the percentage of households relying on stand-alone residential white pages fell from 25 percent to 11 percent.
Down to 11 percent. Wow. The story goes on to say, though, that the yellow pages "are doing fine, at least according to the Yellow Pages Association. The industry trade group claims more half the people in the U.S. still let their fingers do the walking every month..."

Does that make any sense at all? That only 11 percent of people use the white pages, but over 50 percent use the yellow pages every month?

I wonder, hmmm. Perhaps this set of disparate percentages has something to do with the fact that the white pages are a financial drain on the phone companies, while the yellow pages are a revenue stream. Does a disinterested party like Gallup check the yellow pages' figures? Or are yellow pages advertisers silly enough to pay for ads with an imaginary circulation?

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