The Yellow Pages Association released the results of a study with comScore that supports the idea that despite lower traffic volumes, IYP users are more "ready to buy" and spend more than their Web search counterparts.
We haven't independently looked at the spending claims, but the findings confirm what we've been saying about the quality of traffic on IYPs vs. search sites.
IYPs benefit from what might be called the "legacy" of print Yellow Pages usage — consumers coming to IYP sites at a point in the buying cycle when they're "ready to buy."
As we know from consumer search behavior, search is more broadly used than IYP and at much earlier stages in the buying cycle. In other words, it's used much less precisely by consumers. Here's a statement from the release:
"IYP users spend more in specific categories – Local searchers who use IYP spend 4 to 22 percent more per buyer than local search engine users in the automotive, home and garden, health and beauty and general services categories. IYP users also spend 4 to 17 percent more per buyer for offline purchases in the drugstore, automotive, restaurants, and home and garden categories than do local search engine consumers."
I'm sure that's an accurate statement because it goes to purchase intent and where the consumer is in the buying cycle.
I recently had a major IYP publisher tell me that in the search and non-YP traffic the company was buying, it was finding surprising differences (negatively speaking) in the quality of traffic — perhaps a better word would be "reliability." In other words, the non-IYP users weren't as far along in the buying cycle and thus not as ready to buy.
The challenge for IYP, as the report indicates — two-thirds of traffic was on search engines compared to IYP sites — is to maintain and grow usage to deliver ad inventory to local and national advertisers. That same major IYP publisher I referred to said it could sell many more ads if it had more traffic.
The Kelsey Group's recent consumer survey data reflect modest IYP usage growth but considerable search engine growth, in terms of reach, for local lookups.