Yellow Pages, a Generic Term for a Business Directory, and a Brief History of Advertising With Them

Yellow Pages has a long history, that goes back a century or so, in 1883, when a printer in Wyoming simply ran out of white paper and started using yellow paper instead for business listings. Yellow Pages comprise a directory that lists various industries according to their generic categories, instead of being listed alphabetically, which often caused confusion in the past. Just as the name suggests, this directory is published on pages that are yellow instead of white. Though originally this name was reserved for all kinds of commercial listings on paper, now it is also extended to include online listings and directories of businesses. The name, one must remember has a trademark in the United Kingdom. In the USA and several other countries this name has not been trademarked and hence is used freely by many directories and phone companies to publish and edit commercial listings. Almost 75 telephone directories use the online address of “Yellow Pages”.

In many countries, these directories are named slightly differently to avoid issues of trademark. In Romania, Belgium, Czech Republic some several other European nations these directories are called “Golden Pages”. In several countries, they are called silver pages, town pages or rainbow pages. All these names reserve the same meaning: a commercial directory where one finds not only listings of different categories of business but also commercial advertisements. Typical Yellow Pages comprises of a comprehensive listing of all the businesses located within a given area according to the similarities among certain business categories, which are then listed alphabetically for better reference and faster use. Generally, such directories are published by telephone companies but due to the profitability of such books, several private companies have also invested in this line of business, often publishing directories that target certain demographic groups.

A business directory collates its information from several services. Often in the case of public directories that are published by local phone companies, using their own customer listings and information, listings issued by phone service providers are also used. Owners of businesses that use services other than the local phone company must ensure that their listings are updated in the upcoming directories. The listings within these directories are done based on location, size and kind of activity and may be either compiled manually, or using certain software online. The procedure to publish an advertisement in one of these phone business directories is simple. In most cases, an advertisement assistant hailing from the selected directory would assist the company to create its own design and then put it up for proof copy and review. The billing in all such cases is either done prior to printing of the advertisement in the directory or after the printing, but within the contract period, which usually extends for 12 months.

Though the use of print directories has been of much use to companies and businesses for several decades, their usage is on the decline, since most of the current users are opting for online directories that provide much faster and easier access. This is the reason why most directory companies have come up with online versions for their more tech savvy users. A local business listing provides several types of information for its users like, name address, contact details, type of service or goods provided by the company, the area extent of its service, related associations, etc. Certain directories also provide separate space for comments and feedback for its users for better and improved service. Several of these directories, besides providing the premium listings also keep space for additional and complimentary listings that are much more comprehensive and hence more useful.

You may now list your business with any of these directories or the pages with unparalleled ease since, most of these directories have online versions where publishing your own advertisements becomes much simpler. These are however mere search facilities and must not be confused with search engines, since they do not publish information on the basis of keywords, but categories and subsections of various kinds of businesses. These directories are available in both hard copies and digital formats, enhancing access and promoting ease of distribution. However, there is a lot of controversy on the quality and content of these online or digital versions of directories. Some believe that there has been some amount of trade-off between cost effectiveness and quality of online directories in the past. Furthermore, there are surveys that point to the fact that small business enterprises still opt for the print directories instead of the online versions. However, several public interest groups rally against the printed versions of theses directories since they are of the opinion that printed directories waste paper and are hence not environment friendly. There are several advantages of online or electronic directories, the prime among which is the fact that these directories can be automatically and easily updated in real time meaning, one does not have to wait for the once in a year updating process of print versions.

The interaction between buyers and suppliers is what the local search for directories for business listings is all about. There are several kinds of directories available in the market, that amplify this interaction, the most common example being, a shopping directory. These searches result in extensive listings of businesses that are grouped together based on certain homogeneities. The listings are exhaustive and provide multiple choices within the same sub-category that enhances the chances of profit maximization by the competing business firms.

These days B2B directory is also gaining popularity, which forms a single line of interaction between manufacturers and wholesalers and then wholesalers and retailers. These directories provide exhaustive information for business dealers wherein, each is looking for raw materials, dealerships, partnerships and collaborations to enhance business performance. These directories are not used by consumers but the firms that require assistance in the penultimate stages of the production process. Such directories are generally used in the marketing of goods and services that require the interaction of several business categories.

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