The traditional mass distribution of yellow pages print directories isn’t effective where I live. In my 148-unit apartment complex, stacks of new yellowbooks were recently placed outside entryways during the day on Thursday. About 7pm that evening, 146 yellowbooks remained. The next evening, 139 remained. The following Tuesday morning, 134 books remained. Later that day, apartment staff recycled those remaining books. Hence apartment residents picked up only about 10% of the yellow pages directories placed in entryways.
I also looked at yellow pages directory distribution through two CVS stores in my neighborhood. On December 16, 2009, the day my apartment complex received the new 2010 yellowbooks, the first CVS had five 2009-2010 (old) yellowbooks, and the second had two. The top books in both stacks were quite dusty. I’d guess that no one had picked up a yellowbook at these stores for at least several months. By January 6, 2010, the first CVS had removed the distribution rack and the yellowbooks, while the second CVS still had the distribution rack. It contained one 2009-2010 yellowbook. Hence someone picked up from CVS an old yellowbook. Maybe someone is using it to make a spending decision, or to clean a bike, or just maybe a homeless person took it for toilet paper.
Whether someone bothers to pick up a yellow pages directory is a crude measure of the performance of yellow pages ads. But given that only 10% of the yellow pages directories were picked up from my apartment complex, the performance of ads in those directories probably isn’t very good. The performance of ads in yellow pages directories available for pickup in CVS probably isn’t much better.
New media is offering powerful new means for making advertising relevant, useful, and accountable. Changes in advertising are disrupting major businesses and challenging well-established organizational practices. That about 418 pounds of yellow pages directories were dropped at my apartment complex and then carted away is just a small act in the astonishing spectacle of media change.
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