Phone Books Are Dead

We live in the digital age – the age of information – an age where phone books are seemingly obsolete. Why is this? Are there any benefits to advertising your business in the local Yellow Pages? Or, is it time you take your business’s advertising efforts one step further and jump on the digital marketing train.

Let’s look at the ROI of phone book advertising and see how it measures up to digital marketing…

Isabella Anderson (2018) provides an interesting example in her article of how to determine the ROI of phone book investing:

Here’s how to figure out how many phone calls you’d need from one phone book ad for you to break even. First, take the cost of the ad and divide it by your average sale, then, figure out how many phone calls it takes to make a sale. For example, if your ad is $200 and your average sale is $30, and it takes 10 phone calls to make a sale, 200/30=6.6 and 6.6×10=~67 people. That means 67 people would have to call your business from a Yellow Pages ad in order for your phone book advertising to break even. Ten more calls (or one more sale) and you make a whopping $10.

According to MSN, 70% of the American population do not open their phone books before next year’s batch is delivered. That is 70% of people who will not see your advertisement, and a poor, poor return on your investment.

ComScore has found that over half of the U.S. population has replaced the phone book with an online search; this number is growing as mobile usage skyrockets (Anderson, 2018).

Additionally, back in 2014, less than half of the U.S. population was regularly using a phone book, yet today, phone directories remain a $3 billion industry (Anderson, 2018).

There is endless amounts of research supporting the argument that phone books are becoming obsolete. Think about it, when was the last time you cracked open your Yellow Pages? Were you looking up a business, or were you just checking to see if your business was still listed? On the other hand, when was the last time you searched for a business online? We are willing to bet the latter was done most recently.

When you commit to advertising your business in the Yellow Pages, you are not guaranteeing that your listing will be seen. When you invest in digital marketing for your business, you can be certain that your business will get noticed. Digital marketing can position your business to be at the forefront of an internet search. Not only can your business be the first to appear during an internet search, but a significant amount of information about your business can be accessible to potential customers. Your website, Google business page, directory information and reviews, and social media accounts can all appear with one search.

The local exposure you can get from digital marketing is unparalleled. You will be able to reach the high volume of people looking for exactly what you have to offer. It is time for your business to move forward with digital marketing, and realize that phone books are dead.


Andersen, I. (2018, February 8). Yellow Pages vs. Digital Marketing: Is the Phone Book Really Dead? Retrieved from

Stromberg, J. (2014, December 17). The Infuriating Reason You Still Get A Phonebook Delivered Every Year.

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