Is Yellow Pages Advertising Worth It?

by Small Business Planned

Yellow Pages (owned by Sensis) offers Yellow Pages print directory advertising and Yellow Pages online advertising. Business can get a free listing in each, but to get a decent sized ad you need to lay down your wallet and usually some serious cash. So the question that comes up each year is – is Yellow Pages advertising worth it?

According to Yellow Pages 8.5 million weekly searches are made using its print directory. That is high. And I must admit, impressive.

If your contemplating advertising in the Yellow Pages, just be aware that the above 8.5 million weekly searches statistic applies to the whole of Australia. Yellow Pages print directories have different versions split across metro and regional markets. And your ad is likely to appear in only one of these directories (well… unless you pay more), so the weekly searches in your given local directory will be a lot smaller.

Yellow Pages Directory

Is Yellow Pages Advertising Worth It?


Proof of Yellow Pages Declining

Is Yellow Pages advertising worth it? Or could it be a small business mistake? Perhaps. It’s well known that Yellow Pages usage is declining. It’s largest competitor, True Local loves to commentate and point this Yellow Pages decline.

But it’s important to note that this decline is off a large baseline – The whole of Australia – so opportunities may still be there for positive return on investment.

Any semi literate statistician knows that you can sculpt and twist data to make it appear how you wish.  So for this reason I always take surveys and statistics with a shake of salt. However there is one barometer of Yellow Pages advertising that can’t be debated – the changing size of the Yellow Pages print directory.

I have measured the changing Yellow Pages directory dimensions for the last three editions and have found that the physical volume of the 2012 directory has shunk 46% since 2010. And this rate is accelerating. Wow.

Yellow Pages Print Directory Changes

Yellow Pages Shrinking

Yellow Pages Print has Shrunk 46% in 2 Years

Another interesting snippet to note – ever since I could remember I received a Yellow Pages A-K and an L-Z directory. But this year for the first time I received a solitary A-Z directory. And both its height and width were smaller than the previous 2011 directory.

And if the Yellow Pages directory is physically shrinking, it means that their business advertisers are collectively pulling out. They are either getting a better deal elsewhere, such as through SEO or pursuing other marketing channels. Unless Yellow Pages are recouping this lost business in their online channel, this does not bode well for their ongoing growth.

So is Yellow Pages worth it? From a social proof perspective, businesses are pulling out. So if you are after a crowd sourced answer, it seems to be a very loud ‘NO!’

Interested to hear your thoughts…


Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned


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13 thoughts on “Is Yellow Pages Advertising Worth It?

  1. Eileen

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your article. I don’t use yellow pages. When I had a hamper business I used to and they used to push hard for the in-car directory which was completely useless to me. I think too that people would rather use an app on their phone and go online than use print. That’s just my opinion.

    Do you know if they offer ‘bundle’ deals. i.e if you pay for this you also get that?

    Always enjoy reading your work.

    Regards, Eileen.

  2. Becca

    I think more people are more now relying to the internet if hey want to look for anything.
    That is why Yellow pages is not that popular now this days.

  3. Lisa Wood

    I think that the traditional way of advertising is no longer working – be it newspapers, radio, yellow pages or bill boards. Online social media is the way to go, and reading about recommendations is what will work for companies!


    1. Anthony

      Say Goodbye Yellow and G’Day Google

      Yellow Pages used to hold the most prestigious place in the advertising world, namely that spot between the customers who had an intention to buy and the sellers who could satisfy their needs.

      That spot has now been prized from their hands by the search engines.

      While social media will play an important supporting role in helping sell, the prize position belongs to Google and to a lesser extent Bing, Yahoo and others.

      Recommendations are all good, but when I need to buy something, its’ straight to the intent engine of Google.

      1. David Moloney Post author

        I think that Yellow Pages’ biggest mistake is treating online like the print business… well probably worse because there’s no decent pics. They needed to better integrate social media etc and all at an acceptable price for the business

  4. Daniel

    I have advertised on yellow pages before and I had good results there. It depends the product, what worked best is really popular products or essencial products such as food. It is true that people is using the internet to search their products but yellow pages are still a good way to advertise.

    1. David Moloney Post author

      Hi Daniel. I agree that Yellow Pages can be a good way to advertise your business (in fact I do look after this strategy for one particular company that does get good results), you do need to be careful though because you go in blind to what your competition is doing and you can’t change the ad for 12 months. A lot of unknowns for a hefty price tag

  5. Nicholle Olores

    Yellow Pages have already known worldwide and it is truly great in advertising such products from your company. Some of the businesses nowadays are more often advertising their respective products online using social media.

  6. Justin

    Thanks for sharing, man! I’ve spent (and lost) thousands on Yellow Page advertising. Time for that to end, and none too soon!

  7. Chloe

    Online advertising is more effective now than the usual way of advertising such yellow pages, however some still choose to use this.


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