AT&T Drops Madison White Pages Residential Listings

by Dick Larkin on January 23, 2010


AT&T will no longer be publishing residential listings in Madison, Wisconsin.  This follows their trend of eliminating residential listings in Milwaukee, Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia.  This should make the environmentalists happy.

It’s interesting timing to announce the elimination on the same day that they begin delivering directories.

The 2010 Madison AT&T Yellow Pages is reportedly 1/3 smaller than the previous edition.

In an article on the Wisconsin State Journal, AT&T spokesman Chris Bauer said that there were better sources for residential listings.

“Customers often keep their own personal phone books in their cell phones or on a list on the refrigerator or by the phone. They have school directories, church directories, and they have the Internet.”

My employer, American Marketing and Publishing, publishes the HomePages community directories throughout Wisconsin, and we will continue to list all residents in all of our directories.  In the tight-knit communities we serve, residential listings are very important to the residents.

As a competitor to AT&T, I’m thrilled that they’re doing this, because it makes our product even more useful.

As a cheerleader for the Yellow Pages industry, I’m disappointed in AT&T for the move.

The reason AT&T dropped the residential listings was to save money.  I respect that.

The problem is that residential listings drive heavy usage.  Five years of data at found that nearly half of the searches were for the business name or for residential listings.

By eliminating the residential listings, AT&T is also eliminating a significant chunk of their user base.

So do you think that they would lower advertising rates to compensate their loyal advertisers for the reduced usage?

Of course not.

In fact, most of the advertisers are not aware that the listings have been dumped.

Is it any wonder why local business owners feel such animosity toward the Yellow Pages industry?

The reduced utility further weakens the AT&T printed Yellow Pages as a local advertising vehicle, and will cause fewer advertisers to renew in future years.

So where will people find residential numbers?

Well, if they use their phone to dial 411, AT&T charges $1.25 to $1.50 per call.

So they charge the advertisers the same rates, they save money by not publishing the white pages, and they make money for providing the information that used to be free.

As my friend Vinny would say, “You got a problem with dat?”

The big Yellow Pages publishers have had financial problems, and business is business.

But it seems like they’re hell-bent on hastening their own demise.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

SteveSipress January 23, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Right on the money, as usual, Dick.

Sadly and bewilderingly, the major yellow pages publishers are some of the most mis-managed companies of all time.

Good news for you as a competitor — bad news for these companies and the many great people who work for them, their advertisers, and the general public.

Will they every “get it”???

Dick Larkin January 24, 2010 at 11:29 am

Every time I have to make an important decision in my business, I ask, “What would the Big Guys do?”

. . . and then I do the opposite

Previous post:

Next post: