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Business First

The Destiny of the Yellow Book


With the prevalence of internet searching and online mapping for businesses, the future of yellow book seems weak. On the other hand, there are steps that the publishers can take to maintain clients and generate revenue from the printed address books.

The obvious option is for the yellow pages publishers to develop online versions, if not fully go digital. Most have already gone down this path, with excellent mobile applications for searching for local addresses and contacts. The only disadvantage of this option is that the income generated from the online pages is considerably less than what could be earned from traditional printed versions.

A major competitor against the yellow pages is web search engines which present contact information for businesses that have well optimized sites. This means that instead of the average user visiting an online version of the pages to put in their search, all they have to do is search the business name or any other relevant terms in search engines such as Google or Yahoo and get the information they require.

Many industry experts believe that the only solution to curb this problem and bring more profits to the yellow book is by changing their business model altogether.  The suggestion is that in this age where online information is essentially free, charging for advertising space on the online phone book will eventually be irrelevant. Adapting another form of revenue generation should bring in substantial sums and keep up with free search engines in providing contact information for users.

Another observation is that the yellow book has an advantage over search engines which is the ability to display specific local addresses. Search engines are great for finding general information, but for addresses within small towns and locations in the country, the phone book wins. It can secure its future by presenting this aspect as its unique selling point. This will encourage users to opt for yellow book searches rather than be frustrated by search engines.

Phasing out the printed yellow book completely may not be a great idea at this time because there are still a lot of people who are subscribers of this version and still use it. Loyal customers definitely benefit from it for local use. Furthermore, the book’s publishers can maintain their hold even with the online version. The fact that it has been around longer than free search engines can be a small but essential way of promoting the publication.

The yellow book also has to come up with better ways of adapting to phone number changes with the different cellular and VoIP providers in the market. By the time the most recent copy of the book is out, a lot of changes have happened, more phone companies, small businesses and users have emerged, all of whom are not reflected in the publication. The speed of updating also gives preference to the online version of the book rather than the printed version.

With all that said, what is the future of the yellow book? Plenty of changes are required, from the business model and strategy as well as promotion and PR for the company. With the right planning there is still hope for the yellow pages.

This is a guest blog article contributed by Haliyma B. who is a professional freelancer based in New York.  Haliyma started her journalism career as a staff writer for IUP newspaper.  Haliyma regularly contributes business management articles covering marketing ideas such as press release.