New Website Makes Phone Book Opt-Out a Cinch

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Today, the Yellow Pages Association launched its new phone book opt-out website,

Each year, 555 million phone books are delivered in the U.S. While each publisher only delivers one version annually, the phone book market is a competitive one, and it’s not just Yellow Pages on the doorstep anymore. In New York City, for example, residents receive up to five phone books in a 12-month period.

In the past, the Yellow Pages Association’s website has hosted a small area to opt out of phone books. But its layout was archaic, and users had a hard time finding it. Furthermore, users often complained that they would still receive the phone books even after they opted out.

“Our ultimate goal is to get it right for the consumer; we have been saying all along,” says Neg Norton, president of the Yellow Pages Association. “We don’t want to deliver directories that consumers don’t want.”

YPA’s new website is easy to operate. Simply type in your e-mail address and ZIP code, and the new website pulls up the phone books your address receives in one year, along with photos.

“If you opt out and still get the book, it’s annoying, so now there’s a guarantee that any consumer that opts out doesn’t get a directory,” says Norton. This guarantee comes by supplying a valid e-mail address. Once he or she has opted out, the consumer will get a confirmation e-mail, and the publishers will get an updated address request to put into their delivery systems and update their files.

Norton says that although YPA was built on the print book, publishers are quickly changing their outlook to maintain value in an increasingly digital space.

“We’re not making any money by distrubituing more copies. The way we produce value is by the way people use the directory. It’s usage-based, not circulation,” Norton says. “What’s interesting about our business is that we’ve changed from being product-centric to service-centric.”

Norton is referring to the way phone book publishers support small, local businesses, a staple customer of typical phone book ads. Today, companies like Yellow Pages offer more than just an ad in the print phone book. These companies act as media support for small businesses, which tend to not have time or resources to manage things like Google Ad Words or search engine optimization on their websites.

While YPA’s old opt-out website was hard to find for many consumers, Norton says the new website will be prominent as most publishers are cooperating with the new system and will be putting the website on the cover of their phone books.

“We’ve been working on [the new website] since October, and from my own personal perspective, coordinating hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world,” says Norton. “But there has been a lot of momentum and unity in the industry. I think there is a general concensus that this is just the right thing to do.”

Amanda Wills is the Managing Editor of Earth911. You can follow her on Twitter @AmandaWills.

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