A salesman stopped in one of our local retail stores a few months back, selling phone book advertising. The salesman told my young employee the benefits of a premium business listing. He tried to sell an advertising spot in the local phone book. The young employee said, “I can honestly say I’ve never looked in a phone book before”, while looking very perplexed.
Why Phone Book Advertising is Dead
In the old days, wealthy people had a personal library with the entire Encyclopedia Britannica series. If you were a smart, affluent American, having a set of “Encyclopedia Britannica” or “World Book Encyclopedia” books meant you could look up information on almost any subject.
Many wealthy families owned 26 encyclopedia volumes, listed alphabetically: A-Z that let them search for almost any subject. Now, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t accessed Google from their smartphone.
We used to use dictionaries and thesauruses to learn new words or search for the meaning of fancy words. Now we ask our smartphone, What does this word mean? Instead of opening a paper thesaurus, we ask out phone or computer, “What are synonyms for the word _____?”.
Many phone book companies now sell online advertising and some even offer direct mailers. The first thing I ask when someone wants me to pay to advertise on their website is, “are the links html “dofollow”?”. Often, the salesman doesn’t have any clue what I just asked. If they do, the links are almost always, “nofollow” links. This means if I paid to advertise in their phone book then they get to list my information on their website and benefit from the on-page content while having my store listed. Because their site does not allow search engines to “follow” the link to my website, they keep the benefit and do not pass any page rank along to my site. Just another reason that phone book advertising is dead or dying!