Google Outage Highlights Importance of Print Media

Yesterday, Google’s search and e-mail services were disrupted for about an hour and the world took notice.

This made me think about the misconception I often hear that no one uses print Yellow Pages anymore, and how a brief Google outage shows the importance of print media in our culture.

Yesterday’s event illustrates the fact that technology simply cannot be available to 100% of us 100 % of the time.  And for that reason, there are many people who need or might even prefer to use print media to find the information they’re seeking.

Several examples readily come to mind:

First of all, we can’t forget that there are still a large number of people who do not have 24-7 access to the Web.  And even for those who do, there are still going to be down times.  Maybe your power goes out, there’s an emergency, the DSL is down temporarily, or, yes, Google has a snafu.  Or perhaps you’re just not near the computer or iPhone.

And then there are the people who simply prefer to use print media.  It’s tangible.  You can touch it.  You can flip the pages, look at the display ads next to each other, write on it, circle things.  It offers a tactile experience that is different than online, and it’s very valuable.

Finally, there are the people who feel compelled to check multiple sources.  They do a Google search, they review their favorite Internet Yellow Pages site, they check their local Yellow Pages directory, and maybe ask a few friends.  They use these sources in tandem to make an educated decision on a local business to patronize.

Now, obviously, our industry works with Google and other search engines.  They provide important services that benefit Yellow Pages companies and our customers.  For example, search engine results often display the Internet Yellow Pages listings of our small businesses advertisers.  So in that regard, we don’t want to see Google’s service interrupted.

But with many different types of “local searchers” out there, and a technology grid that just isn’t perfect, I think print has a lot of life in it.  That’s why Yellow Pages companies continue to deliver print products, even as we see double-digit growth in our Web and mobile offerings.

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