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Four IYP facts gleaned from the 2012 Local Media Tracking Study:

For most consumers the term “Yellow Pages” conjures up images of large paper tomes filled with page after page of display advertisements for everything from plumbers to party clowns.   Yet there is another more modern twist on the venerable directories that have served consumers for so long—the Internet Yellow Pages.   IYP offers the same service as its print cousin except that it can be accessed by both computer and mobile device.  The 2011 Local Media Tracking Study conducted by Burke Research for the Local Search Association offered four interesting facts about IYP that many advertisers may overlook about the product.

1)      Internet Yellow Pages continue to show steady growth. 

The past few years have not been kind to print Yellow Pages in terms of public perception.  Yet, often times the digital side of the Yellow Pages house is overlooked in favor of its older more familiar big brother.  If print Yellow Pages are in a slump, then IYP should be in the same boat, right?  A quick look at the annual usage figures for internet Yellow Pages shows a trend that might defy conventional logic: growth. 

Take a look at the number of annual references over time:

  • 2005: 2.3 billion
  • 2007: 3.8 billion
  • 2009: 4.9 billion
  • 2011: 6.3 billion

An examination of the number of references from 2007 – 2011 shows that IYP experienced an average annual increase of 13.9%.  In fact, since 2002 when the then-Yellow Pages Association first released tracking information the product has show no decrease in annual references.  While these numbers might not seem impressive when stacked again annual searches from places like Google and Bing, these searches are much more transactional in nature.

2)      Over one third of all IYP references lead to a purchase. 

The study shows that 36% of all IYP references are followed by a purchase.  That’s a significantly higher sales rate than paid search, direct mail, or even social network ads.  However, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison as IYP users are most often actively shopping.  Individuals seldom whip out a smartphone and casually browse the IYP listings because the line at the DMV is moving too slowly.  Rather, these are individuals who have a specific and immediate need and are using the IYP platform to fulfill that need.  IYP has the ability to connect with consumers who are much further in the buying cycle.

3)      IYP leads are coming from mobile devices. 

According to the study, 22% of all IYP users are now accessing the content via a smartphone.  This seems logical—as IYP publishers have developed more and more robust apps that use the phone’s integrated GPS to provide geo-targeted results.   I would expect this number to increase next year as well as smartphones continue to permeate the marketplace and become a more essential part of North American consumers’ daily lives.  83% of all IYP users report using a desktop or laptop while only 4% indicate a tablet or netbook. 

4)      IYP users are new customers to the business.

According to the study, 41% of all IYP purchasers are new customers to the business they transact with.  This is slightly higher than Print Yellow Pages which only reports that 36% of purchasers are new customers.   In this respect it would seem that IYP can serve as viable means in which SMB’s can actively grow their client base.

In a world dominated by search engines, it is easy to overlook Internet Yellow Pages as a viable option to draw in new customers.  Yet IYP offers a portable directory that provides businesses with motivated new additions to their existing client base.  The product is seeing consistent growth in its use with mobile use on the rise.  It’s another tool that advertisers should consider when seeking to expand their customer base as well as connect to consumers that are ready to purchase.

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