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Yesterday, BIA/Kelsey issued its annual Global Yellow Pages Forecast, which predicts the industry worldwide would erode at a 4.1% CAGR through 2017.

While this forecast may seem bleak, this pace of erosion marks an improvement over the prior five year. From 2007 through 2012, global Yellow Pages revenue declined at an 8.9 percent CAGR. BIA/Kelsey cites a couple of factors in predicting a slower pace of decline. The first is the simple fact that print revenue is already below 50 percent of total revenue in many global Yellow Pages markets (Belgium, France, Italy and Sweden to name a few). As digital takes up a larger share of the revenue pie, revenue naturally stabilizes, as long as digital revenue isn’t also declining.

We believe that digital revenue will grow at a respectable pace globally, mainly driven by the shift from IYP (a negative growth product in many markets) to digital services, which are growing, in many cases at double digit rates. By 2017, the forecast calls for digital to account for 62 percent of total global Yellow Pages revenue, compared with 35 percent in 2012.

The view that revenues will begin to stabilize (though not return to growth) assumes a few things.

One assumption is that the pace of print revenue decline doesn’t substantially deteriorate beyond its already steep decline. This could  happen, but our forecast assumes that some of the larger publishers that drive the forecast will be successful at keeping the rate of decline from deteriorating over the next few years.  Another assumption is that publishers will execute effectively on the provisioning of digital services, which will ensure reasonable retention rates on the newer mix of products. If execution is poor, churn will undermine growth.

The full forecast document is available to client of BIA/Kelsey custom advisory services.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. With IYP unique visitors plummeting by as much as 30% annually the future is bleak for the yellow page industry and IYP’s. 62% digital of total Yellow Pages revenue in 2017 is merely a result of Yellow Pages companies adding more and more digital services to try and survive – email marketing, e-commerce, web development, SEM, SEO… Should SMB trust a dying Yellow Pages company that can’t develop unique visitors to their IYP with their digital marketing strategy? Maybe it’s time to hire a local digital marketing agency and put the phonebook in the recycling bin.

  2. Nate Lapierre said it. The only way for Yellow Pages to survive is to add more services, they are just not long for this world. Today almost every webpage calling itself “yellow pages” offers SEO and it’s actually still a powerful tool to get a better page rank from the search engines.
    Last year BIA/Kelsey estimated global print and online revenues of YP at $23.4 bil. in 2011 and projected that in by 2015 revenues will decline just 1.5% to $22 billion.

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