- Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages refers to a telephone directory of businesses, organized by category, rather than alphabetically by business name and in which advertising is sold. As the name suggests, such directories were originally printed on yellow paper, as opposed to white pages for non-commercial listings. The traditional term Yellow Pages is now also applied to online directories of businesses.
The name and concept of "Yellow Pages" came about in 1883, when a printer in Cheyenne, Wyoming working on a regular telephone directory ran out of white paper and used yellow paper instead. In 1886 Reuben H. Donnelley created the first official yellow pages directory, inventing an industry.
Today, the expression Yellow Pages is used globally, in both English-speaking and non-English speaking countries. In the United States, it refers to the category, while in some other countries it is a registered name and therefore a proper noun. The term Yellow Pages is not a registered name within the United States and is freely used by many companies. Telephone directories using the official internet address "Yellow Pages.xx" exist in 75 different countries. They are edited by many different Phone Companies and Directory Publishers, mostly independent from each other.
In Sri Lanka, the "Yellow Pages" are known as the Rainbow Pages, or the silver page.
A particular Yellow Pages (YP) is a print directory which provides an alphabetical listing of businesses within a specific geographical area (e.g., Greater Chicago), which are segregated under headings for similar types of businesses (e.g., Plumbers). Traditionally these directories have been published by the local phone company, but due to the highly profitable nature of the business there are numerous independent directory publishers. Some YP publishers focus on a particular demographic (e.g., Christian Yellow Pages or Business Pages).
Yellow Pages directories are usually published annually, and distributed for free to all residences and businesses within a given coverage area. The majority of listings are plain and in small black text, usually in the Bell Gothic or Bell Centennial typefaces. The YP publishers generate profit by selling advertising space or listings under each heading. Advertising may be sold by a direct sales force or by approved agencies (CMR's). Available advertising space varies among publishers and ranges from bold names up to four color twin page ads ("double trucks"). Advertising rates typically increase every year regardless of distribution or usage fluctuations.
Business listings used for publication are obtained by several methods. Local phone companies that publish YP directories rely on their own customer lists and include business listings that are provided by phone service providers (ILEC's). Business owners that utilize phone services other than the local phone company (typically a Bell Company) should make certain that their information has been sent to the publisher for printing in upcoming directories.
Advertising in YP directories requires payment in full prior to printing or may be billed monthly over the life of the contract, which is usually 12 months. Typically, a sales representative will assist the customer in creating their ad design and provides a Proof Copy for review and approval. Advertisers should be aware that many contracts have automatic renewal clauses and require action on the part of the advertiser to end future billing.
Yellow Pages print usage is reported to be declining with both advertisers and shoppers increasingly turning to Internet search engines and online directories. According to a study by Knowledge Networks/SRI, in 2007, print Yellow Pages were referenced 13.4 billion times, while Internet Yellow Pages references increased to 3.8 billion, up from 2006’s 3.3 billion online searches. As a result most YP publishers have attempted to create online versions of their print directories. These online versions are referred to as IYP or Internet Yellow Pages. Independent ad agencies or Internet marketing consultants can assist business owners in determining sound opportunities for YP advertising and provide objective information on usage, possession and preferences.
The "Walking Fingers" logo was created by Henry Alexander, a well known New England artist. Upon graduation from the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Mr. Alexander began a successful freelance career as an illustrator and commercial designer. He formed a long association with the New England Telephone Company lasting thirty-one years. In 1962 he designed the "Walking Fingers" logo and within a year it became the national trademark for the "Yellow Pages".
AT&T, the creator and owner of the most famous three-fingered version of the "Walking Fingers" logo, never applied for a trademark on the logo. While they eventually received a trademark on a different version of the logo, the version with the three fingers was not considered by AT&T to be proprietary and they in fact allowed any telephone directory to use it. 
Bell Systems later applied for a trademark on the logo but had their trademark denied on the grounds that it "had become a generic indicator of the yellow pages without regard to any particular source." Shortly thereafter, Bell began using a trademarkable logo with a lightbulb instead of the walking fingers, but returned to the walking fingers two years later. 
In some countries, the familiar "walking fingers" logo is not protected as a trademark and may be used by anyone. This logo is used in varying forms by almost every YP publisher; however, there are companies that use it to imitate mainstream publishers. In Belgium, the Republic of Ireland, Israel and the Netherlands the directory, although using the Yellow Pages logo, is called "Golden Pages".
Internet Yellow Pages
Online Yellow Pages are known as IYP or Internet Yellow Pages. On a broader scale they are known as vertical directories. There are consumer oriented and business oriented varieties. All providers of IYP offer online advertising.
IYP offers listings differently than standard search engines. Where search engines return results based on relevancy to the true search term, IYP returns results based on a geographic area.
Studies by independent companies such as Nielson and comScore have shown that Internet Yellow Pages have a very slim percentage of total Internet searches. The majority, over 85% of all Internet searches, occur on the major search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing. These search engines also provide yellow page business listings as a part of their search results.
Advertising on IYP is typically available with numerous a la carte choices. These choices become small "individual sales presentations" which makes it easier for sales reps to sell large advertising packages.
The new version of IYP is classified as a local search directory which provides content with the added ability to refine the search to find the needed service. The new search engine now prioritizes local businesses in its results rather than the results being dominated by regional or national companies. All services offer paid advertising options which typically offer preferred placement on search results pages.
In recent years, the Yellow Pages industry has faced scrutiny from environmentalist groups who claim printed Yellow Pages are a wasteful resource, citing statistics that nearly 70% of all Americans rarely or never use printed phone directories. The Product Stewardship Institute claims local governments spend $54 million a year to dispose of unwanted phone books and $9 million to recycle them . Phone books use low grade glues and are therefore difficult to recycle, and they often clog recycling machinery.
San Francisco became the first city in the US to ban yellow page distribution in 2011 , but is being sued in federal court by the Local Search Association on freedom of speech grounds. According to the Sierra club, 1.6 million phone books were distributed annually in San Francisco, producing 3600 tons of waste, $1 million in disposal costs, and 6180 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions .
In Seattle, an opt-out program reduced circulation by 100,000 copies in 17,000 households.
- Loren M. Berry - Inventor of the Yellow Pages concept
- Blue pages - Government related counterpart
- Electronic Yellow Pages
- J. R. Hartley
- List of Yellow Pages
- Telecommunications service
- White pages - Residential (non commercial) counterpart of the Yellow Pages
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