The ever-provocative Chris Smith pointed me to a blog post in which he criticizes the amount of money — $3.85 million — that AT&T reportedly paid for the domain “YP.com.” Putting aside the price, I think the acquisition is part of AT&T’s consolidation of the “yellow pages” brand online.
Chris also mentions the nearly $100 million that BellSouth and SBC (which were merged and became AT&T) paid for “Yellowpages.com” several years ago. If you consider that second acquisition solely of a domain you probably feel the price tag was totally outrageous. If you consider the price tag the cost of the brand “yellow pages,” it’s not that much potentially. I was initially in the former camp but quickly became a member of the latter camp.
Chris’ post discusses SEO issues but he opines about what he feels is the declining value of the brand “yellow pages”:
Fewer and fewer users are typing “yellow pages” into Google, as this graph demonstrates. It would’ve taken “yellowpages.com” a good many years to repay for itself even when the traffic for “yellow pages” keyword searches was good, but with this declining trend in those searches very apparent, this is no longer a realistic longterm investment, and it will turn more rapidly into a major capital loss.
Considering this ongoing, downward trend, the monetary worth and traffic-bearing value of both “yellowpages.com” and “yp.com” are declining. Many feel that the overall concept of “yellow pages” could be fast disappearing as well, and that will leave these as very dated-feeling trademarks only a short ways down the road. I’d say there are a very good number of young consumers today who don’t even know what “yellow pages” is! So, even the brand name value of these appears very short-lived.
I don’t necessarily agree that the brand value of yellow pages is eroding as fast as Chris suggests. But I do agree that yellow pages doesn’t have as strong a consumer association with local online in the way it does offline.
As Oprah might say: What do y’all think?