Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Who Uses Yellow Pages?

Robert Scoble writes that: "I don’t even know where mine are. I’d hate to work there, although there’s still money left in that old model cause there’s still lots of people who don’t look to their computers for everything."

I only partially agree. I don't use Yellow Pages nearly as much as I used to, but they're still pretty handy for tracking down what I might call "location-dependent services"--i.e. a local plumber, furnace repair guy, or nearby tree nurseries. Part of the issue in using the computer is that many of these types of businesses don't have Web presences. For this reason and others, Web tools that provide results based on physical location, such as Google Maps, are fairly incomplete relative to the Yellow Pages. (The fact that the Yellow Pages are close to a de facto monopoly in any given locale helps them aggregate essentially all the relevant local advertisers. Google's market power notwithstanding, location-based search and directories in the online world are far more fragmented.)

I don't dispute that, in general, the (physical) Yellow Pages have declined and will continue to decline in importance--if for no other reason that if I'm having trouble tracking some item I need down, I'll simply go online and buy it if possible. However, given that searching based on location is yet something else that search doesn't do well today--see this posting here for a description of some other problems--the big yellow book provides at least an interim alternative.


Anonymous said...

I do graphic design work for an major YP directory and I hate the job. The work is becoming more impossible to get done (18 ads a day, or else) because the company hasn't invested in new software and technology in years we can't even open up files that customers send to us. Most of the artists that remain with this company (they haven't hired new ones in years, either) are deeply depressed and the only reason most of these guys stay now is the paycheck (HAH!) and the health insurance (not in that order). I left crying today because one of the salespeople (who think they are God's gift to the company and who are about as smart as a bag of hair - you tell them not to submit art that they have pulled off the web as finished artifacts and they star) told me that if they only had better artists they wouldn't have to show 'garbage' to customers and that we are reason the customers can't get their proofs on time. To any graphic artist out there - don't work for any Yellow Pages Directory. Ever. You'll end up hating yourself and ruining your career because any artwork you do for them will be owned by them and you won't be able to use it for your portfolio if you try to escape.

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