No Bail Out For Yellow Pages

Greg Sterling has been writing a lot about the possible disappearance of newspapers.

Seth Godin has also speculated about newspapers’ disappearance.

I think both of them and others are talking about them because they feel like it is really important; but what about yellow pages. Does anyone care? Until yesterday I thought so.

Now I believe people who use the internet on a regular basis believe yellow pages are irrelevant. What changed my mind?

Late Thursday it was reported by the Dallas Business Journal

Idearc Inc., a provider of consumer information that includes phone directories, posted a fourth-quarter loss of $77 million on sales of $709 million, and said in notes attached to the earnings statement that it is “currently considering a restructuring” under federal bankruptcy laws.

The company, headquartered at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, said that based on current forecasts and year-end results, it is out of compliance with one lender’s agreement and risks being out of compliance with a second.

As a result, lenders have the right to consider all the company’s debt in default and could call it due within 30 days.

You would think this would be big news and people would come to Google and type in ‘Idearc Bankruptcy’ to learn more about this huge story. Well, another post on this blog happens to rank #1 for that very term and I was just looking over the analytics and thought I would share them with you.

Google Analytics

Displayed is the network location of the people who read a previous post speculating on Idearc's Bankruptcy

This screenshot shows the network location of the folks who were reading the Idearc Bankruptcy post yesterday. As you can see, only 126 views… a big yawn, right? But even more telling is that most of the views were from inside the yellow page industry and more than one-third came from Idearc and Verizon. Folks who may lose their job tend to care, what surprised me, was how few other people did.

I don’t believe people care that much if a single yellow page provider goes out business.

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5 Responses to No Bail Out For Yellow Pages

  1. What’s amazing to me is how Verizon/Idearc consistently failed to capitalize on great ideas and ways to really lead the way.

    1. Not utilizing the Verizon Wireless relationship to extend it’s network of distribution. A lot of people would have considered saving $1.25 to hear an ad before getting a telephone number from 4-1-1. Or how about all the businesses who stopped buying land lines?

    2. By making SuperPages.com an abortion. From total city buys to three tier impossible to explain to anyone PPC, to $.25 minimum bid, to $15.00 min per month. That could have been something.

    3. By not understanding that competitors (such as Yellow Book in our markets) were chopping huge chunks of money away from them every year because of one thing: PRICE.

    4. By creating a pay plan that was not in line with successful sales people. Why try to up-sell or sell a new client when your last advertiser just took $1,000 away from Verizon to put it into Yellow Book and you gotta make that up before being paid a nickel?

    5. By charging for the SuperPages application on your cell phone. This could have been huge! It was like the first iPhone app, but no – you DECIDE TO CHARGE the user? You assholes, you are already charging the advertisers!

    I’m not even going to mention how useless Harless was for all those years. However, I will mention that valuable and relevant businesses survive, the rest “consider restructuring”.

  2. But Patrick you don’t really have an opinion about this do you? :)

    Boy, I think about #5 all the time, they really blew it. When you think they had a decent working mobile product, at at a time when Larry & Sergey were practically still at Stanford… Geez… (sigh)

  3. David Mihm says:

    I’ve said all along that the IYP’s and PYP’s have been incredibly derelict in their potential of bringing small business owners to the online market. They’ve tried to sell SMB’s products that neither the business owner nor the salesmen understands, and worse–products that don’t work financially OR in terms of traffic.

    They should have positioned themselves as a neutral third-party offering scalable consulting services, \ helping SMB’s get their feet wet with legitimate advice about SEO and online positioning.

  4. David,
    Looking back I think the problem was really with management. YP was so incredibly profitable for so long and a monopoly… there was no one with vision.
    The managers (myself included) were there to follow instructions.
    Ultimately what you’re saying is the reason I left. I wanted to define the offering. I wanted to bring the best the internet had to offer to small business. Now I get to do that!

  5. channarong says:

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