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Saturday, April 10, 2010

More evidence of recession

The latest Auckland telephone books have just been delivered. The Yellow pages for 2010 have 1764 pages. 2009 had 2117 pages, and 2008 had 2429 pages.

Are they trying to save trees? No. Is the typeface smaller? No. Are internet listings becoming better value than print listings? No - I doubt it.

It is probably the most tangible evidence of the recession that the public will receive. 665 pages of ads have been lopped off in three editions - that's a 27% slump in two years. As a measure of the decline in general business activity - in confidence and in ad spend - it is quite significant. You can immediately see the substantial difference when you line the three sets of phone books up with one other.

The alarming thing (and not just for the equity group that bought the yellow pages off Telecom a few years back) is the rate of decline. The Auckland phone books cut off in November/December of the previous year and are distributed in March/April in the publication year: so the 13% decline from 2008-2009 reflected the state of play at the time of the election when things were melting down fast, uncertainty was reaching a peak and credit had already begun evaporating in the months leading up to November 2008. What is troubling is the further 17% decline from 2009-2010. What accounts for that? It can't all be greed on the part of the Yellow Pages outfit and businesses refusing to advertise on that basis. It's a sign the recession has taken a toll on business - certainly Auckland business - and that we are some way off a recovery.


At 10/4/10 8:15 pm, Blogger Barnsley Bill said...

Tim, you are quite correct in your assumptions but they are not the whole picture. The business model for yellow pages is missing the key ingredient now.
Back when it was a Telecom business you could buy your ad in the yellow pages and then have it split over a few months on your telecom bill. This enabled customers to buy more space and it enabled Telecom to have a cast iron collections arrangement with the customer. If you did not pay your phone bill your phones got cut off.
So, today you have a business with much tighter credit arrangements which forces less spend and a business that is strugling to collect payments.
And where are the blog rankings for this year? Get on with you lazy git.

At 10/4/10 8:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, where are the blog rankings?

At 10/4/10 9:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own a business and up until a couple of years ago had a big paid ad in the yellow pages, then through my clients realised I didnt get one single call through the yellow pages, they were all through my web site, word of mouth, or local paper. So the yellow pages were told to get stuffed, simple as that. Their model is now irrelevant to business,if you want a service or busines you google the info.

At 10/4/10 10:46 pm, Anonymous Lindsey said...

More that Yellow's customer relations are crap. It took me three letters and four telephone calls to convince them that I was not going to pay them $6 per year to have my fax number printed.

At 11/4/10 10:46 am, Blogger homepaddock said...

It may be partly the recession but like Anon I think it's also because more people use the web more.

At 11/4/10 5:40 pm, Anonymous Exclamation Mark said...

Are internet listings becoming better value than print listings? No - I doubt it.

Wrong. if anything even remotely approaching 25% of businesses were going bung then you would certainly know about it and NZ would be in serious shit.

The internet is the probably 80-90% the reason. 10 years ago my business had a 1/4 page ad in the yellow pages along with about 5 or 6 of my competeitors now only one of us had an ad of about 1/16 of that size, the rest only have the name number and website listed.

We are all still in business and all doing all right but we use our web pages now - people let google do the finger walking. I ask my customers where they hear about my business and in the last 2 years only one has come through the yellow pages.

BTW - you should have a listen to the monthly calls I get from yellow's sales reps trying to get me to list in every single region in the country, they are obnoxiously persistant and I usually end up hanging up on them.

Yellwo pages web model is fucked too - they try and get you to pay an exorbitant premium to get listed at the top of the web page and my industries listings are cluttered up with busniesses that have almost nothing to do with it.

At 11/4/10 8:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yellow Pages is so '80's.

I had pages sellers here a while back. He was an arrogant know it all, but had little detailed information on the product, headings were all wrong.

There are much better ways to spend the budget.

At 11/4/10 10:03 pm, Blogger Damian said...

Are internet listings becoming better value than print listings? No - I doubt it.

Yeah Tim I have to agree with the comments above, with respect I think you're way off the mark with this one. I haven't as much as opened my yellow pages in the past year. When a window was broken in my house last week, I googled "glass repairs Auckland" and bang. Rather than finding the phone books (not actually sure where they are, even the new ones), looking under glass and then discovering its not actually under G because it's under "repair industry" or something (probably not in the case of glass, okay, but how many times have you had to try and work out what category the yellow pages have listed the thing you want...) etc.

A paper version of the yellow pages must be getting close to redundnant. The internet model for the yellow pages is broken too. They're going to be the only casualty here, not NZ businesses.


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