According to a recent report released by BIA/Kelsey, which looked at those SMBs (small to medium businesses) that use directories for advertising and promotion, marketing dollars are continuing to shift from print to digital. BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor (LCM Wave 18) report found that the net decreasers—those businesses planning to decrease their print spend or budget (minus those planning to increase it)—reached 19.2 percent. In addition, advertisers are planning to increase overall marketing spend at a net rate of 20.3 percent, pointing to a significant shift away from print and toward digital marketing solutions that offer clear performance results.

BIA/Kelsey analyst Charles Laughlin explains, “The growing number of ‘net decreasers’ we see moving spend out of print Yellow Pages is consistent with the revenue trends we are seeing throughout the directory publishing industry.” He goes on to describe how publishers are responding to this in a number of ways, with some moving aggressively to turn their companies into fully digital enterprises and others focusing on improving the consumer experience in the core print directory industry to try to stem the decline. However, as Laughlin points out, the key to survival for those in this industry is “doing a better job of converting existing print customers into long term digital customers.”

Here are some other key takeaways revealed in this report.

  • According to LCM 18, over 40 percent of SMBs that advertise in directories prefer to purchase those digital advertisements via a directory salesperson. This is almost equal to the 42.9 percent that prefer a “do it with me” model for purchasing.
  • Over 50 percent of SMBs prefer third-party management for advertising rather than handling it themselves. In particular, they demonstrated a strong interest in managed solutions for digital advertising, particularly in the area of social media.
  • For directory SMBs, social paid ads compose around 12 percent of their digital budget.


Matthiessen, C. “Small Business Directory Advertisers Continue Shift to Digital.” BIA/Kelsey. 8/25/15.