Overall, more than six in 10 consumers--61 percent--of 1,000 adults and 500 teens surveyed last month said they turn to the phone book first when looking for local listings. Just 12.5 percent of that overall group went to search engines first, while 11.8 percent said they turned to directory assistance, and 7 percent reported using online Yellow Pages. But the survey revealed a major divide between younger and older consumers--with just 44 percent of respondents between the ages 18 and 34 favoring print Yellow Pages, compared to 72 percent of respondents between 45 and 54, and 85 percent between 55 and 64. At the same time, only 28 percent of teens said they would turn to print Yellow Pages first, while 47 percent said their first choice would be search engines.
"There's a very clear age factor," said Kelsey Group analyst Neal Polachek. He added that younger Web users' propensity toward online sources heralds a sea change in the way businesses will be prioritizing their local ad spends in the next several years.
Polachek said that as consumers who are most accustomed to using the Web begin to enter their 30s, when they have more disposable income and are making bigger purchases, so too will businesses in their local advertising. "All of a sudden, you're looking for schools, you own a house, you're looking for mortgages--big purchase decisions. Those people will never have had the built-in habit of picking up the print Yellow Pages."