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Knowledge Networks anticipated my sort of criticism, and in their YP Directory Audience Measurement White Paper, they state that of the estimated 8% of households without landlines that are missed in their sampling, the 2% entirely without phones are not likely to be potential customers (I’m supposing), and the 6% that are cell phone only households are not statistically significant:
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from SHobbs 3343 Days ago #
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I am writing from the Yellow Pages Association (www.ypassociation.org) and we strongly disagree with the notion that people who’ve switched from land lines to cell phones won’t use the Yellow Pages.  Regardless of what kind of phone you have, print Yellow Pages is often the quickest source for reliable and complete local information.In fact, the Simmons 2008 National Consumer Study shows solid Yellow Pages usage among people with cell phones.  80% of people who use the print Yellow Pages at least once per week own a cell phone, and they use the YP 5% more than the average consumer.We use research to understand consumer behavior and we think it’s important not to go on gut instincts or personal usage.  We’ll continue to sharpen our methodology and alter as needed, but we’re comfortable that the data tells the real story.  People still need their Yellow Pages.

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from davidmihm 3343 Days ago #
Votes: 0

SHobbs, allow me to give you a very "non-gut" reaction to Chris’s article. I realize that the YP industry is dying and that people’s jobs are on the line, but I don’t like seeing small business owners presented with mis-information, either from snake-oil SEOs OR from print publications. The Print YP’s clearly have no incentive to provide accurate data about usage.I work with a lot of small business clients. One in particular is a long-term client in a high-margin YP category. In the last three years, he has seen his cost-per-customer from print YellowPages increase by 400%. Meanwhile, his cost-per-customer from organic search over the last three months is 1/10th of what it is in the print YP. 1/10th!I’ll admit that’s a rather dramatic example, but it simply doesn’t gibe with the data that were cited by the YPA at all. I completely agree that SMB’s should continue to stay in the print YP’s as long as it makes economic sense for them, but I’m getting more and more inquiries from business owners with similar stories to this client’s.

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from KenC 3342 Days ago #
Votes: 0

David:   Could it be you just don’t like the results the industry has provided from a reputable, established source, hence, the best plan is to trash them????

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from davidmihm 3342 Days ago #
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KenC, I think Chris’s original article laid out the problem with KnowledgeNetworks’ methodology, ’respected’ or not.The fact is that numbers like this can be skewed by EITHER side and in this case I’m going to stay with what my clients tell me from actual experience to inform my opinion of the best value for SMBs marketing dollars.As I said, there may be verticals and geos where the YPs are still VERY affordable and offering good ROI.  It does not seem to be the case in a couple of high-margin YP verticals, however.

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from Silver 3342 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hi, SHobbs-I’m all for going on solid research, too -- and that was the main thrust of my article. The widely-cited figures which were released this spring missed what has apparently become a significant segment of the overall population: cellphone only households. There was apparently a drop of 7.6% in print YP references in 06 according to previous figures, but the announcements released in the spring state that print usage remained stable in 07. We can no longer be certain of this, if the polling missed people comprising 15.6% or higher of the population. And, there’s reason to believe that segment might have considerably different behavior patterns from everyone else -- they might use print YP a lot less.The Simmons National Consumer Study appears to possibly miss the cell-only segment in their figures as well. According to their Methodology page:"The study uses a two-phase data collection approach, with Phase 1 consisting of a telephone placement interview to obtain the household’s participation in the survey and Phase 2 involving the mailing of self-administered survey booklets to eligible household members."If they do miss the cell-only household segment, then the yellow pages usage figures amongst cell users you cited involves only land-lined households who also happen to own cellphones -- a considerably different demographic from cell-only homes.So, I don’t go off of purely gut instincts, but I do apply intelligence to interpreting what I’m being told, and I try to test assumptions by comparing other related data. The claim that cell-only households comprises only 6%, and that this segment is insignificant, is no longer likely to be valid, based off of a number of other credible sources.The Yellow Pages value proposition appears to still have substance, based on the polling data even though it missed cell-only homes. Even if none of the cell-only users were to use print yellow pages, the data shows that there’s still a significant portion of America that refers to yellow pages, and frequently. I primarily expect that if the sampling were more representative of the populace, we’d find that print YP usage had only dropped a few percentage points more than the previous year -- that usage didn’t remain stable.While I know many people who no longer refer to print at all, I’m quite aware that my personal demographic is different from the population as a whole. Anecdotally, I *do* know some people who still use print, and refer to it about once per week. (Though, why people refer to print is yet another interesting question -- since the bulk of that usage is to look up phone numbers for businesses that they already frequent, rather than to discover new businesses.)Anyway, I look forward to more robust sampling methodology in the future -- sampling which may include representative averages of all types of consumers.

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from davidmihm 3342 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Chris, this is a VERY insightful comment:"Though, why people refer to print is yet another interesting question -- since the bulk of that usage is to look up phone numbers for businesses that they already frequent, rather than to discover new businesses"Although most of my clients’ single best search term, according to analytics, is their brand-name, so there is some carryover to that way of thinking online / in search.

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