Advantages & Disadvantages of Yellow Pages Advertising

by Cheryl Munson; Updated September 26, 2017
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Yellow Pages phonebooks have been in American homes and have served as a "search engine” for people to locate products and services on-demand for almost 120 years. Yellow Pages is keeping up with the times with electronic versions. Consumers increasingly rely on digital resources to research businesses and gain information before making purchasing choices in their homes, at work and while driving.

Cost Advantages

Cost is a big pro for Yellow Pages advertising. The cost is substantially less than that of a 30-second television commercial or newspaper or a major magazine ad, making it an affordable solution for budget-conscious businesses.

Distribution Advantages

Yellow Pages allows businesses to reach a broad range of residents in a metropolitan area. Local businesses can grow their customer base and reach out to potential customers who live or work near the business, in other neighborhoods or far across town. Many metropolitan areas have multiple editions. Businesses use this feature to target specific neighborhoods, suburban areas and surrounding cities.

Established Resource

Yellow Pages is an established media vehicle. When people move to a new home, they often make sure to take the phonebooks along so that they can locate new service providers, like dry cleaners, banks and grocery stores. Alphabetic listings by service and business make Yellow Pages user-friendly. Residents without access to a computer still rely on phonebooks.

Limited Reach

Yellow Pages falls short in reaching customers beyond local borders. This can adversely affect businesses who want to reach customers regionally, nationally or even globally. The Internet and e-commerce now allow businesses of every size to compete in the virtual global marketplace. For example, in the past, a jewelry designer with a small boutique depended on phonebook advertising to reach local customers. Today’s boutique owners can set up a website and sell to customers all over the world.

Content Limitations

Yellow Pages advertising has limited content capabilities. A full-page ad is the maximum space allowance, and that can be costly. Websites allow businesses to include as much content as needed and desired, along with pictures, videos, surveys, polls and other interactive features. A television commercial can include time-sensitive information to promote a sale or the arrival of new products. A magazine ad can promote an event, pricing or season-specific items. Because phonebooks are printed once a year, opportunities to update or revise content or promote seasonal specials are limited.

CRM Disadvantages

Additionally, phonebooks are limited in ability to capture customer relationship management (CRM) data. Websites empower businesses to capture names, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and other information for sales follow-up and e-mail marketing. Television and radio commercials can incorporate “operators are standing by” features to capture CRM information. Magazine ads can include coupons to achieve similar goals.

About the Author

Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Photo Credits

  • mobile phone image by Vladimirs Koskins from Fotolia.com