The Association of Directory Publishers (ADP) just released findings from its ADP Ad Effectiveness Study, a collaboration with research partner, CRM Associates. The research is the first to examine the return on investment (ROI) for print ads that were published in independent yellow pages directories.

The ADP Ad Effectiveness Study found that consumer calls to businesses that were generated by ADP-member directory print ads increased 28 percent between 2010 and 2013; the median number of annual calls was 197, with a cost-per-call of $15.50.

“Independent publishers continue to maintain a primary focus on print advertising, whereas major publishers are putting more of an emphasis on digital solutions,” said Dennis Fromholzer, PhD, president, CRM Associates. “This is creating an opportunity for independent publishers, particularly in smaller markets, where print ad performance is strongest,” Fromholzer added.

The research revealed critical ROI for businesses advertising in ADP-member directories, and that the typical independent Yellow Pages advertiser experienced $81,700 in sales that originated from a $3,280 print ad investment. This means that businesses are experiencing $24.91 in sales for each dollar spent on their advertisement.

“Perceptions regarding the value of Yellow Pages advertising do not accurately reflect the reality, particularly for independent publishers and their advertisers,” said Cindi Aldrich, president and CEO, Association of Directory Publishers. “In this study, the first to truly examine the ROI of independent directory advertising, the data clearly point to a healthy medium with strong usage.”

Dr. Fromholzer suggests that conversion is one area in which print differs from digital performance  when looking at what provokes a strong ROI that is not incumbent on print directory advertising. “Calls to businesses from Yellow Pages ads have a 50 percent conversion rate, compared with three percent for online. In addition, print sales have a higher per-customer value. One reason for this is that 80 percent of the top print directory headings are service-related and high-value purchases, compared with online and mobile purchases, which tend to be more retail and entertainment-related,” said Dr. Fromholzer. The doctor presented these findings last week at ADP’s 2014 Annual Convention and Partners Trade Show, in Fort Worth, Texas.

The study, released by CRM Associates this month, based results on tracking calls to individual businesses from 212,652 ads, under 1,100 headings, in 1,260 directories, and published by 24 publisher ADP members. Results were derived from each individual ad and were then aggregated by publisher. Publisher results were retrieved as the median result per publisher ad set; reported industry results represent a median of the 24 publishers. The advertising Research Founding utilized and endorsed is the standard methodology, which has been used for 20 years, as the methodology to estimate ROI.

Calls that led to sales were included in total calls to businesses and omitted so-called “noise” or nuisance calls or interest calls that did not lead to sales. Conversion rates were based on consumer reports of the number of businesses contacted before purchase. Consumer spending originates in various ways, depending on the heading and including industry trade associations or trade magazines, industry usage research and consumer behavior studies, and government statistics.

The call trend results are based on businesses for which data were available for ads of the same time over the course of two consecutive years and in different issues of the same directory with the same heading. The study size was 24,000 for 5 publishers for 2010-11, 31,000 for 10 publishers for 2011-12, and 27,863 for 7 publishers for 2012-2013.

ADP is an international trade association that has served the Yellow Pages industry since 1898. Members include publishers, advertising agencies, and suppliers to the print directory, mobile, and online publishing industry.


Association of Directory Publishers (ADP), via Digital Journal. “Calls Generated by Independent Yellow Pages Print Ads Have Increased 28% Since 2010“; March 18, 2014.