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The following post was contributed by TKG associate Mark Temple, who attended last week’s Yellow Pages Today event in Zurich, Switzerland. 

The sixth annual Yellow Pages Today Conference assembled experts from the industry to give their specialist opinions around the theme of this year’s conference, “The Future of the Printed Directory.” 

Margit Kaluza-Baumruker, the marketing director from Herold Business Data in Austria, addressed the topic, “How does the user think of the future of the printed directory?” 

Kaluza-Baumruker described a recent eye-tracking study Herold conducted with the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration to analyze how print directory users search for information/results in Herold’s Yellow Pages directory. The study looked at how various age groups view different ads within the book, including which ads attract the attention of the user, what order of text or pictures is viewed first, smaller vs. larger text and so on. All eye movements were filmed and recorded, which produced some interesting findings. Color and content are the most important factors when looking for a particular business, while position also ranks high, Kaluza-Baumruker said. 

On the event’s second day, keynote speaker Isabella Lascombe, PagesJaunes’ marketing director for printed products, outlined some of the methods the publisher has used to sustain print. PagesJaunes publishes 134 Yellow Pages editions and 139 White Pages editions each year. 

PagesJaunes employs a variety of methods to maintain, improve and build its business, including extensive market research. In 2007, the publisher conducted a survey of 24,000 respondents that produced some interesting results comparing the whole of France with Paris and its suburbs. For example, the national average of print vs. online lookups is 62 percent for print and 38 percent for online. In Paris and its suburbs, meanwhile, the breakdown is 44 percent for print and 56 percent for online. These data influenced the publisher’s decision to price its print and online advertising in urban markets differently from the rest of France. 

PagesJaunes has also made innovations in directory distribution. Each household that is registered in the distribution database receives a copy of the book. In large cities, a book is delivered to every door, even if the name is not mentioned in the listing. Directories are sent automatically to new business movers, while country home owners receive a mail shot asking if they would like a directory. All these actions have contributed to a 91 percent possession rate in France. 

PagesJaunes is continuously looking at different ways to gain information about customer preferences. For example, the publisher did a test mail shot featuring a response card asking customers if they wanted a print directory the next time the Yellow Pages book was published. There was a 6 percent return from the customers, which suggested the pace of opting out of print delivery remains fairly low. 

Lascombe also outlines PagesJaunes’ price rebalancing strategy, noted earlier, where different pricing models are used depending on region. In some print directories, the publisher has decreased pricing as much as 20 percent. PagesJaunes is looking at multiple actions to help it maintain print revenues as it aggressively grows its online business.

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