The independent Atlanta-based Yellow Pages publisher Metro Directories will go out of business this year, and its rival Yellowbook has agreed to honor the contracts of Metro advertisers for books yet to be published this year.
Here is a statement issued to TKG today by Yellowbook:
Yellowbook did not acquire Metro. Metro is still operating, as it winds down its business. Yellowbook and Metro recently signed an agreement to work together to serve the needs of Metro customers. Where we can, we’re honoring the agreements that were made for the Metro Directories by transitioning the programs that were scheduled to go into Metro books into our 2009 Yellowbook products. A number of Metro reps have joined Yellowbook and are working on this transition. We expect our arrangement with Metro to be of great benefit to advertisers and consumers in the greater Atlanta area.
According to the Yellow Pages Association’s IRIS database, Metro was slated to publish nine directories this year. One, the Greater Atlanta directory, was scheduled to publish in March, and the remainder have publication dates throughout the balance of 2009. It is unclear why Metro is winding down its business, though it would seem some combination of a tough economy and a highly competitive Atlanta market, where Yellowbook and AT&T are also present, contributed.
Metro was known for its aggressive use of call tracking and guaranteed ad plans to differentiate itself with advertisers in Atlanta. The strategy worked for a long time, and Metro was influential beyond its size for its pricing approach.
Metro’s failure follows the shutdown of a number of players in the Hispanic Yellow Pages market over the past year, and we expect some other operators in large metros, markets in particular economic distress, and those that are third or fourth players in acutely competitive markets will fail this year as well. TKG believes most established, well-run independent publishers will continue to grow, though perhaps at more modest levels, given the economy.