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Shades of grey over future of Yellow Pages

Tuesday, 02 December 2008
By Print 21 Online Article

Talk of phone books dying is a tough call, say members of the printing industry.

Commentator Stephen Byrne set tongues wagging with his recent article, ‘The death of print: the final days of the phone book’, where he claimed that the rise of electronic technology could threaten the reputation and longevity of phonebooks and "convey them to the dustbin of history."

Byrne’s argument was informed by factors such as PMP’s contract with Sensis expiring on 30 June 2009, a deal between Google and Sensis to place Yellow Pages business listings into Google Maps Australia and an iPhone service allowing users to ask for telephone numbers to be sent to their phone.

"Sensis is losing its way and needs a better strategy that increases relevance, brand visibility and usability," Byrne wrote.

"Otherwise, it might see more of its brands analogous to a doorstop."

Sensis, of course, believes otherwise. Spokesman Stephen Ronchi says that while the company takes a multi-channel approach to its communications, print is very much the basis of that network.

“Across both White and Yellow Pages we have seen plenty of growth in the last few years,” Ronchi said. “Our print business is certainly not in decline and something we will continue to invest in.”

Brian Evans, CEO of PMP, dismissed any belief that printing phone books is a "sunset industry" by revealing that the company’s contract with Sensis will be ongoing.

"It will remain a good, steady business for us for the next seven years," he said.

Phonebooks such as the Yellow and White Pages continue to prove popular with baby boomers and the elderly generation, according to Evans, and will always have an important place.

"There is no doubt that they are still viable," he said. "We’re not seeing a dramatic change in that market."

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