Sensis shrinks the Yellow Pages

yellow pages walking fingers logo thumb Sensis shrinks the Yellow PagesI’ve been wondering when Sensis would start to trim this old stalwart, now that the majority of people search for businesses on line.

Research has been around for a long time indicating the decreasing number of people that actually use the traditional form of Yellow Pages, so it’s not a surprising they would scale this down, wonder why it has taken them so long. 

They have still persevered though in charging small business owners like wounded bulls for the privilege of advertising in a medium that has been reaching less and less people everyday.

For those of you who would like to read the full story from the Sydney Morning Herald, I’ve included it below for you:

“The familiar sight of unclaimed phonebooks stacked outside apartment blocks will be around for a little longer – but it’s certain to be a smaller pile from next year.

Telstra subsidiary Sensis will scrap the second volume of the Yellow Pages print edition in response to competition from the internet, pushing its less profitable categories online as it tries to halt a slide in earnings.

Sensis will cut the second book by cutting the large number of categories – more than 2000 – which contribute just 11 per cent of Yellow Pages revenue but add sizeable bulk and cost to the print product.

Categories such as government administration, defence, forestry and agriculture categories are amongst those to have won less than 10 per cent of the advertising pie for Sensis and may be amongst those to be axed.

By contrast, more than half of Yellow Pages revenue comes from 230 ‘‘tier one’’ categories and nearly 40 per cent from 530 ‘‘middle tier’’ categories. Sensis considers the health and construction industries as prime clients with more than 40 per cent of market share.

Sensis claims that most of us still go to the Yellow Pages to look for a plumber.

About 10 per cent of Sensis’s costs come from printing and distributing the Yellow Pages.

With the Yellow Pages under pressure from online search engines, many users are either opting out of receiving the books or throwing the directories straight into the recycling bin when they arrive.

Sensis said that so far 20,000 Australians have asked not to receive the Yellow Pages directories.

The dominant online search engine Google is often criticised by small and medium enterprises for its AdWords function which is seen as poor for local searches. The emergence of classified websites such as carsales.com.au, realestate.com.au and Seek.com.au have also eroded the attraction of the Yellow Pages.

Sensis boss Bruce Akhurst said earnings would fall this year and for the next two years as costs are cut and it invests in its digital business. He said that while the print directory still had a ‘‘valuable role to play … we recognise the shift to digital is likely to continue.’’

Telstra’s crown jewel never met targets set by former boss Sol Trujillo in November 2005 for Sensis to double revenue to $3 billion by 2011. Its ability to reach the forecasts were to be a key part in the success or otherwise of Telstra’s five-year turnaround strategy.

Financial analysts are disappointed at the division’s outlook. Mark McDonnell from BBY said it was unsatisfactory. ‘‘I think this reflects very poorly on the business and its management.’’

Story by Michael Evans www.smh.com.au

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