The idea of using search engines as a way to find local business data is fairly new; Google Maps only launched beta six years ago. But according to a recent Burke study, search sites have already become a trusted way to find local business information.
The Burke–Local Search Association Study
Burke conducted a 2010 to 2011 study on behalf of the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association). Over the course of 12 months, 8,000 participants were surveyed about their local business search habits. The study used both phone and web-based surveys to gather results.
Users were asked about where they turn first for local business information, how much they trust each source, and how the data impacts their likeliness to buy. The two top choices to information were the Yellow Pages and search engines.
Yellow Pages saw more general use over the course of a year (with 84 percent using Yellow Pages, online or offline, at least once in the last 12 months), while search sites saw more use on a monthly basis (67 percent monthly use to the 62 percent of the Yellow Pages). It should also be noted that, when taken separately, both Yellow Pages online and Yellow Pages offline fall short of the search engine figures.
Unsurprisingly, the younger demographic turned to the search engines long before they turned to the Yellow Pages. For users age 18 to 54, search sites beat out the Yellow Pages by a broad margin. The younger the age group, the broader that margin. The widest gap was seen in the 18-24 age category, where 54 percent said they most commonly used search sites to find local data, compared to 21 percent who turned to the Yellow Pages.
The Future of Local Business Information
More notable than the resiliency of Yellow Pages is the continual rise of search sites and the correlating decline of the Yellow Pages. eMarketer "expects that spending on print yellow pages [will] continue to decline." More specifically, eMarketer anticipates a drop to $8.2 billion in ads for print directories this year – a 13 percent drop from last year's $9.3 billion.
In the long haul, predicted figures decline to the point of near eclipse. By 2015, the predicted ad investment for print directories is just $5 billion. Meanwhile, search investments continue to rise, with the predicted figures for search ad spending increasing by more than 50 percent to $21.5 billion by 2015.