Wizard of Ads, Yellow Pages and Tape Recorders

I recieved this memo from the Wizard of Ads that I thought was quite interesting and reflects the sentiment of a growing number of my clients. Research shows that 80% of all Calgarians use the internet, regardless of age. Consumers are shopping online and more often, avoiding the Yellow Pages.

The chairman of the board looked at me and said, “You’ll be speaking to about 16 hundred members and delegates from the US, Canada, England and Australia. They’re looking for ways to boost attendance at their fairs.”

“Son,” he said as he stopped abruptly, “the average age of the people you’re about to address is 72 years old. Many of them are over 80. There’s no one in the house younger than 65. These just aren’t internet people.”

Then I raised my hand and said, “How many of you have used a search engine in the past 7 days to research a purchase you were considering?” Sixteen hundred hands went up simultaneously.

Pennie and I found a plastic bag at the end of our driveway last Tuesday. In it were 3 different Yellow Page books. This triggered a discussion between Pennie and me about icons of the past. We recalled the famous Yellow Pages ad of 1962, “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking.” We talked about all the different tape recorders we’d owned. I told her about the J.C. Penney Golden Pinto mini-bike I coveted in 1970. And then I dropped the bag of books into the garbage

Yes, money spent in the Yellow Pages (and their associated websites) is basically wasted.

Have you ever Googled a product or service and had the search engine direct you to the online Yellow Pages listing for a company? I’ve never once experienced it. Search engines elevate the most commonly clicked links. Think about what this implies. (Okay, I’ll spell it out for you: if people were using the digital Yellow Pages, those online Yellow Page ads would rank higher on Google and the other search engines. The ads don’t rank high on Google because most people never see those ads.)
During the past few years, a number of our service company clients (foundation repair specialists, plumbers, HVAC companies, etc.) have taken our advice and abandoned the yellow pages completely, moving virtually 100 percent of their ad budgets to the radio. They already have websites, of course. These businesses, without exception, are outdistancing their competitors in the area of new customer acquisition.


  1. Good one… yes.. these offline ( paper yellowpages) companies should stop printing these… Govt should take some serious steps on this regard…

  2. It is a good start to a yellow pages, but in countries where postal addresses are not being used, location information is very vital as getting directions for places is very difficult even if you call the place up. Thats why i like paginas amarillas, though they are small, they have the right idea needed to be a truely useful yellow

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