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The yellow pages are telephone directories of businesses, organized by category rather than alphabetically by business name, in which advertising is sold. The 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, US 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.
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 Internet domain name "yellowpages.cc" (where cc is the ccTLD) exist in 75 countries. They are edited by many different phone companies and directory publishers, mostly independently.
A particular yellow pages is a print directory which provides an alphabetical listing of businesses within a specific geographical area (e.g. the Tampa Bay area), which are segregated under headings for similar types of businesses, such as plumbers. Traditionally these directories have been published by the local phone company, but there are numerous independent directory publishers. Some yellow pages 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. The yellow-pages publishers 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").
Business listings used for publication are obtained by several methods. Local phone companies that publish yellow pages directories rely on their own customer lists and include business listings that are provided by incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs).
Advertising in yellow pages 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, sales representatives help customers to design their ads and provide a proof copy for review and approval.
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 yellow pages 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 yellow pages advertising and provide objective information on usage, possession and preferences.
The "Walking Fingers" logo was created by Henry Alexander, a New England artist. After graduating from the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Alexander began a 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 their yellow pages.
The Bell System 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 yellow pages 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".
Online business directories are branded as IYP or Internet yellow pages. On a broader scale, they can be classified as vertical directories. There are consumer oriented and business oriented varieties. Providers of IYP offer online advertising.
According to several reports the search term "yellow pages" was in the top 5 highest revenue generator of all search terms in Google's AdWords program in 2010. Experian/Hitwise reported in January 2011 that the search term "yellow pages" was one of the top 50 search terms across all search engines and all search terms(millions of search terms). This made "yellow pages" one of the most searched for things on the Internet in 2011.
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 search engine 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 later years, the yellow pages industry faced scrutiny from environmentalist groups who claim printed yellow pages are a wasteful resource, citing statistics that by 2011 nearly 70% of all Americans rarely or never used printed phone directories. In other results, approximately 58% of working U.S. adults said they use phone books at home, work or both, according to a 2013 survey by RingCentral that appeared in USA Today.
Also in 2011, Yellow Pages Association and the Association of Directory Publishers started the yellowpagesoptout.com Web site allowing anyone in the United States to choose not to receive directories. The site remains active in 2018. 2b1af7f3a8