Online Yellow Pages advertisers put their money where consumers aren't

Based on what advertisers spend, Materials, Equipment & Supplies is the fifth most popular local category on’s online search directory. Based on what consumers click on, it doesn’t even make the top ten.

Financial Services is the seventh most popular category with advertisers, but only tenth most popular in consumer searches.

Restaurants and Beauty Services are, respectively, the third and fifth most clicked-on local categories,  but they’re not among the ten most advertised.

Those are among the findings of the new YP Local Insights Digital Report, as summarized July 26 by the Center for Media Research’s Research Brief e-newsletter.

What consumers want

Consumers have made Family Services (which can include everything from babysitting to elder care) the fastest growing local search category (up 164% in first quarter 2012), with Wedding Planning & Supplies (+76%), Pharmacies (+68%) and Security Services and Florists (each +59%) rounding out the top five.

Where consumers live

The biggest population centers aren’t the biggest centers of either online or mobile search.

San Francisco, America’s 14th-largest city, is number one in mobile searches.This is to be expected from a high-tech nexus like the Bay Area. But what you wouldn’t expect is that Lafayette and Baton Rouge, LA, would be numbers two and three, Columbia, SC, number five and Birmingham, AL, number six.

Columbia is also fifth in per capita online searches. But 40th-largest Atlanta is number one and Richardson, TX, number four.

Richmond doesn’t make either top-ten list.

When consumers buy

Sometimes seasonality affects searches.

Moving & Storage didn’t make the top ten, but that’s because the list was for the first quarter. “Clicks for Moving & Storage generally increase from March to July,” notes the Research Brief, “when people are more apt to move.”

But other underadvertised categories, such as Restaurants and Beauty Services, are in demand all year long.

Go where your audience is, when they’re there

To the extent that YP’s results mirror those of online search in general, they suggest several caveats and opportunities for paid advertising in local directories and even other forms of online search advertising:

  • Don’t spend heavily in overadvertised and underused categories. You’ll get lost in a crowd of advertisers and lose a chance to connect with customers.
  • Investment should lead seasonality. If you’re in the exercise and fitness business, invest big in January and February. For movers, February through June. And so on.
  • If you’re in one of the popular but underadvertised categories, get in now, and get a jump on competitors.

According to recent research, 56% of YP Local Network users follow their searches with purchases. They buy an average of 2.7 times a month and average $159 per purchase.

You can get your share by buying search advertising wisely.