I did a bit of business research a few years ago, into different methods of advertising. As part of this, I looked at costs of advertising in various places, including the Yellow Pages. Because I’m sad, I’ve continued looking at the number of pages when each arrive. So did you know it has been shrinking, continually over the last few years? I don’t mean the book has gone from A4 to near A5 (although it has), but the number of pages.
Here’s the proof from the Bristol directory (number of pages include indexes, contents, etc.):
- 2008/2009 – 1584 pages. It contains for the first time, a new takeaway menu section – with whole takeaway menus. 25 pages of takeaway menus.
- 2009/2010 – 1256 pages. After a year of heavy advertising (huge billboards, etc.) about the restaurants and takeaways section, there are now 23 pages of takeaway menus. 2 down from last year.
At this point the book shrinks. It was 29.5 by 21cm (A4, pretty much). From 2010/2011, it has shrunk to 17cm by 24.5cm.
They also introduce the “Name Finder” – an A-Z of all the companies advertising.
- 2010/2011 – 1064 pages. The takeaway menus now amount to 11 pages. 148 pages of the total is A-Z company index.
And this year’s, which arrived a couple of days ago:
- 2011/2012 – 784 pages. The takeaway menus 14 pages. 135 pages of the total is A-Z company index.
I’m assuming a few of these businesses have migrated online, but the book has shrunk by more than 50% (in pages terms), in 4 years.
In the interests of fairness, I should add it isn’t just the Yellow Pages. Here’s the Thomson Local, Bristol:
- 2006 – 504 pages of adverts, 176 pages of A-Z of businesses.
- 2009 – 340 pages of adverts, 144 pages of A-Z.
- 2010 – 250 pages of adverts, 98 pages of A-Z.
Also shrunk by just over 50%, in 4 years. I think we all know that people are searching online these days, and I imagine people are buying smaller adverts and/or spending more on Google Adwords, etc., but the A-Z section is telling. The rate of decline is quite something.
Despite this, the local magazine where I live – Bishopston Matters – seems to be thriving. I don’t have all the back issues to compare, but I think it’s getting larger each issue. Certainly seems to be retaining advertisers well. Is hyper-local the new local?