• http://twitter.com/DavidKyle David Kyle

    I find this study silly and biased.  It doesn’t mention anything about call quality other than they filtered out sales calls and duplicate calls.  Also, was the person managing the Adwords accounts COMPETENT? If it was a YP employee, I seriously doubt it.   I have clients in many of these verticals in various cities, and the cost per call in Adwords is much lower than what YP says they are.

  • http://adrielmichaud.com Adriel

    It looks like there’s real data in this study, but the bias in the study is apparent. I think the real key is that some of these small businesses must have setup some monumentally bad Adwords campaigns. A less biased summary might be, “boy, you can really lose your shirt with a bad adwords campaign if you don’t know what you’re doing”.

  • http://www.buzzmaven.com/ Scott Clark

    100% agree.  In 90% of cases where I audit an Adwords account, at least half of the budget is being wasted on poor setup, low use of negative keywords and split testing methodology, and other basic mistakes.   What were the keywords used?  Match types?  Negative Keywords?  Ad Text?  

  • http://www.buzzmaven.com/ Scott Clark

    Small businesses should diversify lead sources anyway.  As I see it, if you have a machine that prints money, you’re not going to hesitate to buy ink for it.  Most small businesses want more and higher quality leads.  This often means reducing the firehose to a trickle from each source in order to remove tire-kickers and other noise.

    Having optimized Adwords, Bing, and even YP.com campaigns all running together keeps you from being subject to any one networks’ idiosyncrasies   I’d even add in Facebook to the mix.  Key here is to make sure that you have analytics set up with tracking URLs in place for all sources, always.

    Yes, I’m selling the idea of having a consultant get you set up.  But that expense will soon be forgotten and recovered.  

  • http://twitter.com/gsterling Greg Sterling

     None of the AdWords accounts in the study were managed by YP employees; some were managed by independent agencies not affiliated with YP. You should download and read the study

  • http://twitter.com/gsterling Greg Sterling

     I think this is a very valid point: to diversify

  • DillardNelson

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  • http://twitter.com/DataDrivenSEO Data Driven SEO

    The problem with the cost per call model is that it doesn’t take into account “customer service” calls.  YP.com bids on their advertisers brand terms and gets cheap calls that way.  I’d like to see how much data really went into this study.

  • http://twitter.com/LasVegasSound LasVegasSound

    Concerning the bias- of course this is going to be plastered with YP.com stuff. . It clearly states from the beginning that the study was commisioned by YP.com. Even so, it couldn’t change the data from the unafiliated source. Proof is in the numbers

  • Don DeVange

    We see this all the time with clients. YP will claim 150 calls sent, but listening to the calls they claim show that some are for bill payments, directions, and my personal favorite: the previous owner of the phone number.

  • GM

    At end of the day its about ROI. I try multiple media outlets as business owner. Google works ok for me but just ok.  I get a lot more quality leads from YP vs Google. My keywords are very expensive on Google which means my budget is limited for ppc, but on YP they leave your ad up 24/7 365 day year, it never comes down, they dont charge for clicks, dont have to worry about budgets, set ups, changing campaigns, chaging keywords etc. Again, as a business owner not a marketer like most of the comments on here i get a great ROI from yp, will I tell them that? In not so many words….

  • http://twitter.com/vharmony Valters Lauzums

    This study is almost as credible as an election in Zimbabwe.

  • Mike Bayes

     I just don’t buy it. We have been tracking YP and Ad word results for 8 years.  We have never seen better results with YP.

  • http://twitter.com/rankingsignals Ranking Signals

    ATT commissions the study and YP wins – shocking!!!  What’s next? A study by the Association of Door to Door Sales Professionals suggesting they trump SEO? Puhlease! Diversify all you want… but you better make sure YOU’RE the one listening to those phone calls!

  • http://twitter.com/rankingsignals Ranking Signals

     Let me guess… you’re business is selling YP ads!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2LXEOFWF6LE4YJAGWA2BTAJXLE Matt

    It depends on your vertical. I manage acquisition efforts at a national insurance carrier and we do plenty of carefully-managed AdWords and print YP.  At our scale I am confident saying that we have more data than 99.9% of advertisers. Print YP CPC beats AdWords fairly easily in our ultra-competitive vertical (which is Google’s #1 source of revenue: http://www.wired.com/business/2011/07/google-revenue-sources/), even after we adjust for service-related calls and for print YP calls that should really be attributed to online local search (because while most people don’t realize it, the YP books and their RCF numbers get scraped and end up online…we measure that, too).

  • andre Ibuspro

     Thanks for the clarification. I have been caught up in the middle while trying to digest the content of the post.

  • http://twitter.com/ContentAxis Content Axis

    The Credibility of the study is definitely a matter to ask for but since the article is appearing on the Search engine land platform it must have some authority and weight.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CE3PGHZH7WASILFZJGGKH5TOPY Seo

    but you know cheap is not always good idea to switch ads campaign from old to new. so I’ll think about your new analysis report before starting this new idea.. 


  • http://www.authoritybuzz.com/ Authority Buzz

    Only 62 businesses in this study so I’m not sure how accurate this info is, but still interesting. Results with YP vs Adword is of course going to vary based on the product or service being advertised and the quality of their advertising such as ad copy.

  • Mojodudley

    I have used YP for about 2yrs now. I have a click package and I have had more than satisfactory results. Like the previous person above said, after filtering out customer service related calls, it has been good. My cpc has been about $18.
    I switched from Google adwords to YP because, YP not only provides my click package to Google, but also Yahoo, Bing, CitySearch, Dogpile etc. So the value is definitely much better. Sorry guys, not trying to fly the YP flag, but just wanted to share my own experience.

  • http://twitter.com/GetLocalLeads James Goudreau

    Here’s a data point that I’m sure they have, but have not published that would put an end to this line of discussion:  There were 16 businesses that had their adwords campaign managed by a marketing agency.  There were 13 that had a lower cost per call from Adwords than from YP.  How many of those 13 were from the 16 that were managed by a supposedly competent firm?

    One other thing – most important line in the article IMHO – “advertisers must also consider call volume needs: it may not be possible for an advertiser to meet its goals by placing ads solely with YP ads”

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

     Spot on.  What fraction of the YP users got to YP through YP’s AdWords ads on the local business’s brand name?  Basically the affiliate model:  buy the advertiser’s owned brand traffic for cheap and sell it back to them at a huge markup.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507536131 Michael Shostack

    Your post makes it clear that you don’t know how to manage an AdWords campaign if you are leaving it up 24/7/365. There is this wonderful thing called day-parting that helps you avoid paying for clicks/calls during unprofitable times/days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507536131 Michael Shostack

    In my experience in this space, I’d say that it can be a decent source for some types of Clients if you can somehow navigate their severely outdated pricing models (annual commitments for directories are a thing of the early 90’s and don’t even get me started on their point ranking system where it sometimes pays to purchase products like video even if you don’t have video assets strictly for the point efficiency).

    YP keeps trying to add new opportunities on top of their existing platform without bothering to rethink the whole enchilada to be competitive with other IYPs like Citygrid.

    As others have pointed out, there is a big question around call quality, which is why you need a decent call tracking system in place to measure that performance. Cheap calls are not necessarily calls you want to be paying for.

    The other major issue with them is that they quite often are bidding on your brand terms and other “money” terms on AdWords/AdCenter and conducting arbitrage.  Not to mention that all of the IYPs in general are extremely incestuous with their traffic.  For example, we were seeing referrals from Superpages coming in tagged with our tracking parameters for our YP campaigns which indicates that YP was running ads for us on Superpages (which we were also on).

  • fp316y

    A main issue that my clients like with YP is that the yp.com site will show up on page 1 or 2 of Google in a search and they don’t pay a dime for those clicks.  Using the power of another companys SEO and quality score to promaote one of my customers business is a win win in my book

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7QL6Y3WPY7M4S7UDCQEWTK5DXQ Mike

    The basis for your point is faulty (“We see this all the time”).  YP.com has only one product that has call recording, and it is not part of their Directory ads, which were the comparison in the study.  Read the study.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7QL6Y3WPY7M4S7UDCQEWTK5DXQ Mike

    How many of your clients spend less than $300/mo on Adwords?  Probably very few. The Ad type chosen for the study was a Platinum listing. These probably average less than $300/mo. The methodology in the study is to have equal spends, up to $1000/mo.  They could have chosen $1 million limit.

  • http://twitter.com/ebkendo Elizabeth Marsten

    I’m curious as to how many a “few” is because 50 clicks is almost nothing and AV & Co is an AdWords agency then too?

    “Finally, despite attempts to remove ourselves from the advertising process to ensure impartiality, we occasionally needed to assist advertisers. For example, a few participants were unable to generate the 50 clicks we set as the AdWords™ minimum, so we offered tips on how to refine their campaigns. We do not believe our involvement in these rare instances biased the results one way or the other. “

  • nidrob01

    “advertisers must also consider call volume needs: it may not be
    possible for an advertiser to meet its goals by placing ads solely with
    YP ads”…..which is probably why YP and other Yellow Pages businesses offer Google Awords as well. ReachLocal is limited because they can only offer adwords… Diversification is the key here.

  • Steve Gould

    I think this study is a little ridiculous for a variety of reasons, but having a background in the YP industry, and still to this day receiving YP Analytics reports from many of my clients, it seems that a majority of visits to the YP profile page of a local business are coming from users who are looking for that business specifically. So obviously if you’re going to an IYP site and and landing on ‘joe the plumber’s’ profile page, you’re going to be much more likely to call if you did a search on the IYP site for ‘joe’s plumbing’ than if you were doing a generic search for ‘plumbers nyc’. If you structured an AdWords campaign where 50% of the budget was dedicated to brand-oriented keywords, you would get a much lower cost per call. 

  • helpmespock

    I think the whole thing is ridiculous.  The fact of the matter is that YP is losing business year over year and their internal internet objectives are positive single digit at best and the only way to reach this objective is to give away their print products for little to no cost to try to reach a positive objective.  Also, the YP.COM/AT&T Advertising Solutions was sold to an investment firm b/c AT&T does not want it.  Sure they kept a minority holding in the company but it is seperate from AT&T.  Their internal overall objectives are negative in just about every market they have a print presence in thus leading one to believe that aquiring this dying dinosaur by an investment firm is only to bleed it for its declining profits year over year. Oh yeah, isn’t that what they are known to do?  The fact of the matter is that not only Google but Bing and Yahoo own them and YP knows it cannot sustain its current business model long-term. The simple fact is that they are churning customers on the internet at an unsustainbale rate and the company has lost almost 25% of their workforce due to forced retirements and layoffs.  The former company worked so well for its advertisers that it is on a decline that cannot be stopped unless major changes occur. AT&T was unwilling to try to revive this dying dinosaur b/c it doesn’t make good business sense to them. Very sad to see such an iconic division of AT&T die right before our eyes and fade out into the sunset in such a disgraceful manner.

  • irazmataz

    Your reply makes it clear that you didn’t read GM’s post.

  • http://www.jdizm.com/ JDIZM

    This has to be the least credible post I have ever read on search engine land.

  • http://www.keyhousemedia.com/ Ryan Key

    Thanks for this insightful study.  I always hear about how Yellowpages has offered this new program that will help me increase my sales by 30%, but now I see why.  Google adwords does work for the right industry and is a valuable tool if you can optimize correctly.  But I always seem to think that they are the only winner when I get clicks but no conversion.  I have also started experimenting with Yelp ads, and Facebook ads.  

  • http://twitter.com/DelvePartners Delve Partners

    Yeah….but what about all the online transactions/emails and leads that YP cannot drive? lol

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YNFBKHHHUVXUD5ESZL2J7RG7XE Randy

    You sound like a bitter former employee. The truth is it depends on what type of business you have when you advertise on YP.com or Google. It is a fact that a plumber for example will recieve greater returns on YP.com that Google.

  • helpmespock

    No Randy the truth is you really don’t have a response to the reality that I posted. I didn’t know you were aware of all plumbers advertising programs on YP and on Google. If you do then maybe you are right. However, you don’t know all plumbers and their advertising programs so your fact is wrong.  There are a lot of vairables involved and making such ignorant absolute statements such as noted above about plumbers destroys your credibility. Again Randy if you are right then business owners should be beating down the doors of the YP offices nationwide begging to advertise with them.  However the reality is quite the opposite is happening.  Thats why the “whole thing is ridiculous.” Again the reality is that yp is losing business hand over fist.  Why?  This shouldn’t be the case if the advertising programs are so much better then in this instance Google.  Why isn’t the public convinced?  Because the Kool-Aid being dispensed is spiked and everyone knows it.  Sure you it works for some folks and from what I gather I’m sure they remain loyal customers.  Thats called a good business decision.  However, the reason YP continues to churn customers at such a high rate is because primarily it doesn’t work.  So they stop advertising.  Another smart business decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.stewart.5895 Jeff Stewart

    The principles under which YP.com conducts business and how they treat their clients, 5-Years from now all of this will be a mute point, they will no longer be around. 12-month contracts have no place in the arena of online advertising.

  • http://twitter.com/mikemuskat Mike Muskat

    Steve, excellant analysis. Yp.com is used greatly to find a business you may already know whereas pay per click, if done correctly, will bring in new customers. Best way to test would be call recorded telephone numbers and analytics to determine if its a lead. This study is to undefined to be useful.