Who Is Responsible for Yellow Pages’ Current Woes?

Jim Hail, president and chief operating officer of Hagadone Directories and chairman of the Association of Directory Publishers, outlined what he believes has been a systematic decline in the brand value of the Yellow Pages at this year’s ADP Mid-Year Convention in San Antonio.

Prior to the break-up of AT&T there was strong support for promoting the Yellow Pages category via the industry’s “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking” campaign. “After the break-up, the incumbents and the Yellow Pages Association stopped promoting the category in favor of the incumbent publishers promoting their own brands,” said Hail. The reason given for walking away from an industry campaign has often been attributed to the incumbents, which said doing so would essentially be funding and helping the other publishers.

Not pulling any punches, Hail said, “The industry, mainly the incumbents, have let the brand become tarnished with little effort to help build back the industry, and this has put everyone in the Yellow Pages at risk. We will continue to work with and push YPA and the incumbent publishers to reconsider this position.” 

While independent publishers’ revenue share and usage share have continued to increase, their ability to affect the industry as a whole has been hindered since they are often overshadowed by the financial challenges of the incumbent publishers, which are more globally recognized and often control the perception of the industry.

The reality is that both ADP and the Yellow Pages Association need to work together to find common solutions to revitalize the brand and deal with the bad PR. Given the current challenges a coordinated effort would seem to have a stronger impact.

Hail concluded by saying, “No matter if you are a large incumbent publisher or an independent publisher, we need to have a common voice to help level the playing field in the local media space.”

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