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National Yellow Pages advertisers appearing on a YPA conference panel moderated by The Kelsey Group’s Charles Laughlin reiterated the importance of Yellow Pages to their businesses. While they were open-minded about experimenting with new types of directional advertising, including Yelp, Internet Yellow Pages and search, print clearly remains their core effort.

“Yellow Pages is core to the growth and sustainability” of the moving industry, said Chris Borrink, director of product development, Allied and North American Van Lines. “Print has been the bread and butter. We are bullish on print in many ways.”

Borrink added that it was “all about the tracking. A good CMR [certified marketing rep] will be able to show local advertisers the opportunities that they may be missing out in the local marketplace. [For instance], what books are we not in that we are missing out on?  We had an agent in Denver who didn’t know what was out there in the marketplace. By overlaying data, we were able to show which regions we were not covering, even though leads were coming in. That’s a great success story.”

John Vitagliano, VP of marketing and dealer communications, Meineke Car Car Centers, noted that Yellow Pages receives one-third of his advertising budget. “It is one of our highest ROIs,” he said. Meineke, in fact, has a huge investment in Yellow Pages over the years. “We want to protect that investment,” he noted. The issue for Meineke isn’t whether it will stay in the book. It is whether it wants to be (only) competitive versus dominant.

Whether Meineke’s loyalty ultimately conveys to the Yellow Pages industry’s electronic products, however, remains to be seen. “We’re very interested and excited about new things from Yellow Pages,” Vitagliano said.  But Meineke is currently spending very little on Internet Yellow Pages. “We evaluate IYP with all the other Internet options out there,” including review sites and search, he says. “The other options have been generating a better return for us.

“Yelp looks like a more sustainable model,” noted Vitagliano. “We have one dealer who is encouraging people to rate him online, and he is seeing business from that. He is not just protecting his reputation, but getting lead generation. He is seeing the benefit from that.”

Ultimately, it really isn’t about using one channel or another, Vitagliano added. “What we need is a better integration of local advertising opportunities: Internet, print and some things beyond that. We are looking for a local expert.”

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