Two articles. Two perspectives. Two headlines.
Yesterday, Chris Smith wrote in Search Engine Land the following headline, “Google Trends: Yellow Pages Will Be Toast in Four Years.” He went on to back up his thesis using statistics. “My gut feeling is that the Google Trends graph for searching for ‘Yellow Pages’ is likely representative of a broad behavioral pattern of Internet users who are going to traditional Yellow Pages sites less and less. If we project the pattern out in time, we can see that searches for ‘Yellow Pages’ might reduce down to nil by as soon as 2011.” Basically, the writer takes pure data and admits, “I’m making multiple suppositions here,” in order to back up his headline.
Today, Michael Boland, who is a Kelsey Group analyst, wrote in SEW Search Day another story about Yellow Pages titled, “Whither the Yellow Pages Industry?” “Some publishers are really beginning to show signs of embracing ad distribution through IYP designs; product launches (i.e., video ads); and partnerships with search engines and online pure plays to resell pay-per-click and other forms of advertising through their valued sales channel.” His opinion for this blog is based primarily on what he heard and saw at the last week’s Directory Driven Commerce conference.
One of my favorite reads is Denny Hatch’s Business Common Sense. His article today is about the importance of leads to catch people’s attention and the need to maintain that level of interest. He quotes Bob Scott, “You want to upset a bucket of gore in the reader’s lap and spend the rest of the piece cleaning it up.”
Well, Mr. Smith has gotten our attention and he has certainly dumped a bucket of gore on anyone who has Yellow Pages or local search on their Google News alerts. Frankly, Mr. Smith’s approach of using Google Trends to determine the future of an entire industry is a bit like looking at the trends of American car companies and extrapolating it to the entire automobile industry. This is true if for no other reason than Yellow Pages is a great deal more than just IYP.
There is no question in my mind that Mr. Smith will get more attention with his “The Sky Is Falling” headline, but Mr. Boland’s piece does a better job of telling the whole story.