YP’s New ‘Blended’ Media Approach Puts New Emphasis on Print

Recently YP released data that during and following the recent huge and sustained power outage in Michigan it saw a massive spike in internet and print lookups, measured by call tracking. The company said that “contractors in Southeast Michigan with print and digital marketing solutions experienced a 369% increase in leads on the day of the storm and a 675% increase the day after. One contractor, for example, averaged 60 leads during the storm – a 489% increase.”

In addition:

  • Roofing contractor searches were up 859% on the web and 853% on mobile web from the previous week (February 9 compared to March 9)
  • Electric company searches rose 689% on the web and 194% on mobile web in the same timeframe (February 8 compared to March 8)

I spoke to YP CEO Jared Rowe about the data yesterday. Unfortunately on the phone he wasn’t able to give me more detailed insight into the demographic or platform breakdown in these findings. What’s interesting however is that this information comes from the Detroit DMA.

There’s a common perception that print is dead in urban markets. And while Rowe said that print now skews “a bit older, more rural and less affluent” than digital, he added that the volume of print usage in Detroit during the outage was quite significant.

When I interviewed Rowe at LSA17 he talked about how the company is once again embracing print (directory + direct mail) as part of a more complete, “blended” solution for local businesses. He said that it was a mistake to emphasize channels or “products” with local advertisers. Instead Rowe wants to focus on advertiser objectives and business outcomes. He said the company would use data more aggressively to predict and represent lead volume and pricing.

During our publisher workshop at LSA17 the comment was made (by another publisher) that in some circumstances print-driven calls/leads are less expensive than paid-search. However sales reps must now overcome the perception that “nobody uses print anymore.” In addition, some local advertisers are fixated  on a specific medium or channel (e.g., Facebook) and that may create challenges for sales of the blended approach.

In response to that scenario Rowe said YP reps would use data to show advertisers how the blended approach is more cost effective. But if that’s unsuccessful, they ultimately will sell what the advertiser wants to buy, he explained.


Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey

Source: Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey (2015)

Interestingly, consumers continue to trust traditional media advertising more than digital. The above is from the most recent Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey. The data show that while trust in digital advertising is rising it’s still below traditional media.

We’ll see if YP’s new blended approach is effective. However, it makes rational sense and actually reflects the fragmented usage behavior of the market.

To that end, Rowe says that he wants to “cover the entire market” and speak to advertisers about cost per lead and lead volume and then “optimize by blending media to deliver the best outcome.” In different markets the media mix will vary: “Some markets will be more about print and others more digital,” he says.

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