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I am in the middle of researching an Advisory on major metro markets, why they are such a challenge for Yellow Pages publishers and what, if anything, they can do to reverse the slide. In the course of doing research on this topic, I came across a survey generated by “The Wealthy Dentist” that seems to support the position that the ROI on print advertising in urban markets is declining at a much faster rate than in suburban or rural markets.

Being cautious about such things, I have to emphasize that “seems” is the operative word since it is hard to discern much about the methodology or sample size of this survey. The survey does provide an ample supply of verbatims from dentists that reveal a wide range of views on the value of Yellow Pages advertising. Some comments suggest Yellow Pages ads are a thing of the past, while others continue to swear by their effectiveness.

Regarding large markets, the share of respondents who say they advertise in Yellow Pages varies widely from urban (44%) to suburban (64%) to rural (73%). This is pretty consistent with what TKG has been observing, which is that advertiser erosion has been taking place at a faster pace in urban markets, driven by competition (including online competition) and a perceived decline in value.

Here is one relevant verbatim from the survey: “I have the same ad in two different regions of Massachusetts, urban and country. The ad in the country accounts for 50% of new patients. The urban ad less than 1% of new patients.”

In addition to the Advisory, which we will publish next week, The Kelsey Group will devote a session to this topic at the upcoming Directory Driven Commerce 2007 event in Reston, Virginia.

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