Verizon YP Usage Up – Notwithstanding SuperGuarantee

The following is an unedited guest post from Tim Coleman. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the author, who is solely responsible for its content.

Last month the Wall Street Journal published an article that asserted usage in SuperMedia’s Verizon Yellow Pages was up due in large part to the company’s new advertising campaign — The SuperGuarantee.

I was suspicious about this claim because of Supermedia’s reluctance to share the program’s stats, namely the number of signups and redemptions of the program but they say they are “pleased and comfortable” with how the program is going. So I decided to put it to the test.

The problem with tracking Yellow Pages usage has always been the staggering number of permutations of geography and categories. So for my own edification I decided to look at a single business with a 6-figure verizon yellow page spend to see if SuperMedia’s claim was true as far as this one garage door repair business in Northern NJ is concerned. It is a category of business that has traditionally relied heavily on yellow pages and has been tracking their yellow pages since 2002. Although the results of this little study are no in way statistically significant they are interesting and I think you’ll agree… revealing.

I am not able to share the company’s actual revenue figures with you, however the owner of the business was generous enough to allow me to share the trend in revenues resulting from Verizon Yellow Pages.

The following chart represents the % increase or decrease in revenue generated from Verizon Yellow Pages for this business using the time period January 1 to June 30th for each of the years indicated.

As an example, in the 6 month period ending on June 30th in 2003 revenue generated from the Verizon Yellow Pages was up 20.7% when compared with that same time period in 2002. The data is collected by asking every caller, “How they found out about the business.” If they just say the yellow pages, they are asked, “Which one?” if they don’t know it goes into the “doesn’t know” pile.

  • 2003 20.7%
  • 2004 -20.9%
  • 2005 26.4%
  • 2006 -18.7%
  • 2007 -12.0%
  • 2008 0.7%
  • 2009 -22.8%
  • 2010 16.5%

As you can see, revenue generated from the Yellow Pages is up over 16% so far in 2010 as compared to the first half of 2009. Perhaps the SuperGuarantee can leap tall buildings, stop speeding locomotives and reverse print advertising trends after all, but how to tell? If only I could compare this data with some other yellow pages company that DIDN’T offer the SuperGuarantee. If I could and I saw a similar spike in usage that would tell me that it was probably not the Guarantee but something else.

As it turns out I happen to have this exact data as the Verizon spend is mirrored in Yellow Book.

For the same period, revenue generated by Yellow Book was up 40%. This leads me to believe the spike in revenue generated by Verizon’s book was a result of something other than the SuperGuarantee. As if anyone could’ve really believed otherwise.

It’s interesting to note also, that this business still gets more business from yellow pages than the internet. Though the ROI on the internet is higher.

_____

Tim Coleman has spent the last 14 years helping small business get phone calls beginning in 1996 with the Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages, which became Verizon, Idearc and then SuperMedia. He spent the last 4 years training sales on the company’s new digital offerings. In 2008, he joined a National Yellow Page Agency and Launched a Search Marketing Division. He writes a personal local search blog, convertoffline.com and has just launched the company’s blog, a2opinion.com.

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2 Responses to “Verizon YP Usage Up – Notwithstanding SuperGuarantee”

  1. David Mihm says at

    I was going to say, Tim, that a 16% increase is probably about what the overall economy has risen by since June 2009…it seems to me this is not necessarily a measure of the effectiveness of Verizon, though a 40% increase from Yellowbook would seem to pass my heuristic for ‘statistically significant.’

  2. Mike Stewart says at

    Whoa… too much to consider. As you know, Garage Doors and Door Openers is a High Risk heading in VZ YP. In my opinion things such as the credit crunch have helped to improve the ROI of some large size advertisers due to a lack of competition in many directories.

    Rumor is the SuperGuarantee has very little participation (likely due to the fine print and folks not registering) and is just slightly more effective than other Scott Klein initiatives, such as the SuperTradeExchange and SuperLeads. Distribution delays and publication changes to “be the longest lasting directory” in the marketplace have made a better dent on urban usage. If one company publishes in Sept, another in October, and the SuperMedia VZ book in December, the advantage goes to SuperMedia, who was the one that moved pub dates back over the years by delaying pub dates or long lifing books.

    One can imagine that Double Double Truck ads has done nothing to improve quality or ROI, unless you are first in the book….

    So, was this client the first 4 page ad in the directory? 

    Seriously, not digging this “guest” post. Besides economic turnaround we can attribute many potential causes to the results.  A complete intentional lack of transparency on behalf of SuperMedia’s executive team mean that my best guess is as good or better than the companies bogus claims! Feels great being so Super doesn’t it? 

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