For over 100 years, telephone customers have been receiving printed directories of phone numbers, addresses, and advertisements relating to local business and individuals. Though the separation of Ma Bell caused an increase in the number of disparate yellow page brands, one company still holds the rights to the “real Yellow Pages”: AT&T.
Millions of people all over the world are familiar with the tomes that get dropped on our doorsteps every three months or so. Though these used to be useful directories that each individual used on a regular basis to look up the telephone number of the local plumber or pizza parlor, the increasing saturation of the Internet in peoples’ lives have made these books all but defunct. Aside from making good kindling to start a fire in your fireplace (another near-obsolete concept), people are finding decreasing usefulness and increasing frustration over these heavy paperweights made of paper.
Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has gone to great lengths to ensure that they are the number one source of local search in today’s fast-paced, information-oriented economy. With its “Places” feature and bid for popular coupon site Groupon, Google has made it clear that they want to be the first and last place a user has to go to find local business and phone numbers, and with good reason.
Local advertising is a huge business, and companies like Google make the majority of their revenue on advertising. AT&T isn’t taking the fight sitting down though, and they’re following the local search trend in to the 21st century with YP.com, the web’s 3rd largest source for local search information. With a simple interface that encourages users to just find what they want, YP.com is a growing force in the industry.
Aided by the fact that AT&T can push their mobile YP.com app to their cell phone customers, as well as users with iPads and other web-enabled devices, their local search engine is now reaching more users than ever. They are still a far cry from being able to tackle the Google behemoth, but AT&T is poised to overtake Yelp’s second-place position in the local search market. It’s a fine example of how even a print service can change its tactics to become viable in the digital age.<