The notion that advertisers could save a lot of money by using a smaller ad in their Yellow Pages advertising has been, apparently, keenly observed by the Yellow Pages people themselves. According to one of my customers, the strategy that Yellow Pages applies to retain revenue is to tell advertisers that they would receive a very small savings for switching to a smaller ad.

As reported to me, the reasoning is this (follow along as best you can):

  1. Very discounted rates have been applied in the past because the advertiser has been in the Yellow Pages for many years. Sort of a reward for loyalty. Got that? Good.

  2. The loyalty discount is SO deep, in fact, that the the big ad for a long-term advertiser costs about the same as a smaller ad for a NEW Yellow Pages advertiser. Big for old customer costs nearly the same as small for new customer, OK?

  3. And therefore, it makes no sense to drop back to a smaller ad, because it would save very little money to do so.

  4. Sign here and have a nice day.

I suppose Yellow Pages hopes that the reaction of many advertisers, of course, is that they have no choice but to continue with what they have always done -the bigger ad- same as before. Since these negotiations usually take place as the new book is coming out, many are pressured, I guess, to do just that.

I have another customer in the same area who pressed ahead with the smaller ad and was rewarded with a savings of over $2,000 a year. The YP rep then suggested that the on-line YP listing could include a “live” link to the customer’s web site. For just $12 a month more. That’s more than the customer pays for hosting in a year. They respectfully declined the “live” link.

What can you do? In one sense, very little. It’s their bat and ball, after all, and they can charge what they want. On the other hand, if the claim of steep discounts for loyalty can’t be backed up by actual numbers, then it is probably false advertising and may therefore fall within the jurisdiction of the FTC. I doubt that the FTC can make the Yellow Pages change their rates -but they can fine them for lying and compel them to stop the false advertising. And that means that if the new advertiser with a small ad does, in fact pay a lower rate, you should to!

It will take, however, some public pressure to get the FTC in the hunt. You may help apply that pressure by following this link to their web site:

Which brings us to the question, just who IS the Yellow Pages, anyway? In many communities, there are several. Make sure you know who’s got you over the barrel so your complaint can be specific.

I would be fascinated to learn your experience and what you’ve been able to do about it. I shall post updates on this web site. Email me here.

And, have a nice day.

By user