Hibu to End Printed Yellow Pages in UK
September 5, 2017 | Contributed by: Charles Laughlin
Yell, Hibu’s UK division, announced last week that it will cease production of printed Yellow Pages directories in 2019, with the final edition distributing in Brighton at the end of that year. Hibu currently publishes 104 print edition, and last week’s announcement marks the end of a 51 year old tradition in the UK.
There is no indication that hibu has any plans to cease print production in the United States.
Yell CEO Richard Hanscott explained the decision this way. ‘We’re proud of the transformation we’ve made from print to digital. Like many businesses, Yell has found that succeeding in digital demands constant change and innovation. We’re well placed to continue to help local businesses and consumers be successful online, both now and in the future.”
Revenues for print Yellow Pages have been in steep decline around the world for some time now, and many publishers, particularly in Europe and Asia, have determined that their businesses would benefit strategically from curtailing or eliminating their printed products. So far, major North American publishers have remained committed to print, while acknowledging its diminishing financial and strategic importance.
Yell has a full suite of digital products, which combined represent more than 80% of total UK revenue. These include search engine marketing (pay per click), websites, Facebook ads, presence management, a display ad network and inclusion on its Yell.com IYP.
For the financial year 2017 (ending March 31) Yell generated 193 million GBP from digital advertising, which grew 5%, vs. 43 million GBP from print, which declined by 30%.
In the US, print remains the largest revenue component. For the same year ending March 31, 2017, hibu US generated $265 million from digital and $371 million from print and other revenue. Hibu US’s print decline is less dramatic at 21%, but total revenues declined by 11% vs a 4% decline in the UK. Print had reached a point in the UK where it is too small a component of total revenue to justify at such a steep rate of decline.
Hibu’s decision comes on the heels of Global Yellow Pages Singapore’s recent announcement that it will discontinue print Yellow Pages in 2018. GYP’s business model change is more radical than a mere abandonment of print in favor of a fully digital strategy. GYP will de-emphasize advertising entirely and focus on its profitable commercial real estate business.
Yellow Pages has been an iconic brand for decades in the UK, as it is in the US. Yell was as well known for the advertising it produced for its produce as for the product itself. The best example of this was the 1983 J.R. Hartley ad.