Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seriously Sour Taste

This week was meant to be great. I had so much sleep on the weekend, I was really looking forward to this week.

I made a mistake. I had a meeting with Yellow yesterday. There was no way that this week was going to be good.

I cannot get over the way Yellow are trying to hold their own customers to ransom over their website.

I have a lovely client, with distributors nationwide, who have advertised in the Yellow books for years. Now that yellow have finally started to sort their website out so that it actually works (sort of) they are finding ways to milk their customers for every penny they can. Including my clients.

Now, before I really get into this, let's have a little chat about what Yellow is. Yellow is a directory. It is a whole lot of business listings. That is all. Yellow have something of a monopoly on this game. 

So what's got my back up?

Unlike Google which obviously separates organic from paid results, Yellow have set up their system where the user is ONLY delivered paid search results, well, at least for the first few pages. But it doesn't differentiate in a way that is obvious to the consumer. When asked what user feedback there had been about this priority ranking, there was no real answer, just, "I'm sure we have that kind of information somewhere". 

Gold, Silver and Bronze listings is where Yellow is at. If you have a free listing, you can end up on the 3rd or 4th page of results depending on the category. Then, there are category sponsorship opportunities. 3 listings which sit above the gold listing. So, advertisers have to pay to have a gold listing and THEN have to fork out more to sponsor the category or they'll be pushed down the results even further.

Next I'm told, that because my client has a 'free' listing (because they spend bucket loads on the books and not online) this means that their DIRECT competitors have the ability to advertise on THEIR listing unless they upgrade their listing.

Are you kidding me? Talk about holding their own customers to ransom.

When I had a gripe on Twitter about this, I had a number of responses also voicing their displeasure with Yellow. 

  • Trying to teach agency people what 'SEO' means 
  • Giving less than 2 days notice to turn material around 
  • Incorrect listings under wrong titles 
  • Updating free listings over the phone and 'up-selling' to include a URL but neglecting to mention that website inclusion comes with a $120 pricetag (in this instance) 
  • Their "insanely over-priced ratecard

Now, I'm yet to see their ratecard, but I am incredibly unimpressed anyway. I know I don't give Yellow a lot of love on here, but in real life my clients do. When I told the rep I wasn't feeling the love, I was told that I could use my clients Yellow 'rewards' - interestingly these hadn't come up earlier - to reduce the cost of the print so that I could shift that budget to online (I can't use my rewards online, only in print). My rep was also very quick to point out that online commission is 20% while the books only 10.5% so it would be better for me. 

Are you for reals?

I'm so over this, that I can't even be bothered writing about this anymore. If I could, I would talk about why they are revenue gathering to get out of their $1.05B debt, that perhaps they should just pull back on their awful advertising campaigns instead and that their business is becoming more and more redundant so it doesn't surprise me that they're scrambling for money, but I don't have the energy.

Use your head people. Yellow give search results which are based purely on $. They are not delivering the best result for you or your potential customers. Don't give Yellow money for online, spend it on adwords and improving the SEO on your websites. This makes more sense. When was the last time you heard someone say "why don't you Yellow it?"

EDIT: The wonderful Anthony Gardiner has created a poll about Yellow Directories on Facebook if you feel the need to vote.


AP said...

Oh yes, agree on all these points.
They're being pushy & awful to the little people too - like my poor mother who doesn't have an agency to back her up(she works with Mediaworks directly*). I really can't believe how expensive Yellow is.

Helen said...

oh God yes. You're speaking my language. We had one call us up to tell us how unprofessional we were for recommending against re-placing a exorbitantly priced ad that had gathered zero business in previous years. The reps know nothing about their products or rates, so we catch them actually making stuff up. They've also tried to give us a little lesson on how Yellow listings improve search. Turns out they nothing about search either.

Totally had the same issues with the online listings too - the gold listings aren't ranked in order of even really simple stuff like the location of the searcher. Ugh.

With a terrible product and no one good to sell it, no wonder they're struggling.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the poll is on a website, when people who actually use the print product aren't likely to be regular internet users, let alone Facebook savvy.

And you seem to think that people shouldn't be paying for Gold/Silver/Bronze listings? Isn't that how advertising works? Last I checked, Yellow is a business, not a charity. I don't know many directories who don't charge for higher visibility....

iChild said...

Hey Anonymous,

Yes, the poll is on the internet, because unsurprisingly that is the easiest way to poll a large number of people at one time. On the internet. A medium of which over 85% of all NZers 18+ are medium to heavy users. It's not hard and fast data, but its an interesting snapshot.

I do agree with you in the fact that Yellow is a business and not a charity. Totally. Get where you're coming from. However, I think there is a difference between pricing your product to reflect its worth and blackmailing advertisers, which is what it felt like to me.

Nicole said...

Given your yellow posts I thought you might appreciate this alternative use for the book http://www.adverblog.com/2011/11/07/yellow-pages-art/