Fingers Do The Walking To Directories Online

    June 5, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

The yellow pages businesses enjoyed decades of dominance as the caretakers of local information for millions of consumers.

All things come to an end. That’s the great lesson of life, and a bittersweet one as well. Tomorrow, very simply, won’t be put off forever.

Classified Intelligence (CI) said in its latest client report that the shift to the Internet for information represents, perhaps, an end to the era of big printed books filled with everyone from auto mechanics to zydeco sellers. People have opted for the desktop and the mobile device; the advertisers who make yellow pages directories profitable have not missed this.

CI senior analyst Joe Michaud said the yellow pages model of once-a-year buys to keep pace with competitors left it vulnerable to innovators who could nimbly serve customers in a more favorable way. Michaud likened the situation to newspapers, watching helplessly as readers departed while online classifieds sites pulled in the ads people would have once paid the paper to run.

The choice became clear for competitors, in Michaud’s opinion. A little innovation, a little cost efficiency, some willingness to give up massive print revenue margins, and a drive to reach businesses whose operations are well-suited for mobile and online consumers to find, formed a model for delivering information and earning ad revenue with an Internet presence.

Several vendors like Planet Discover (owned by Gannett), Travidia, and’s Premiere Guide all want to cater to local media sites to deliver ads for those markets. They are giving people what they want when they visit a local TV or newspaper website, ads with local relevance.

It’s difficult to think that someday, those thick directories won’t be slamming onto porches and welcome mats on an annual basis. End of an era, but if my mobile phone can deliver the same information as a big book that doesn’t leave the house, it won’t be missed. Things change all the time.