A new study says the Yellow Pages will continue to grow but…there’s a catch. I’ve taken to quoting the current size of the Yellow Pages market – $26 billion or so – as proof there’s a lot of growth left in search. After all, if non-local search is about $2-3 billion this year, and is poised to undermine the local Yellow Pages market due to its nascent push into local search, that’s a rather large market to grow into. But a study by the Kelsey Group, made public by eMarketer today, says that the Yellow Pages themselves will also grow in the next five years, to $36 billion. However, a full 23% of that 2008 revenue – about $10 billion – will be “digital directory” Yellow Pages – yup, paid local search.
OK, so the math is: Yellow Pages is a $26 billion biz now, growing to $36 billion by 2008, a $10 billion increase. Local Yellow Pages “Digital Directory” is – well not much now (as far as I can tell it’s not even in the current $26 billion number), but it will be $10 billion by 2008. Given that the local search piece of the business is quite small today, and the online yellow pages is probably no more than $300 million, if that, what this study really seems to say is that the lion’s share of ALL growth in Yellow Pages will be digital. In other words, there will NO growth in the Yellow Pages market, if it weren’t for online search. Now that I can buy into.