SUMMARY: Incumbent publishers, finding it increasingly difficult to grow print revenues by selling double-half or quarter-column ads, years ago began adding new awareness products, such as tabs and back cover ads, to their Yellow Pages sales bags. Over time, as publishers continued to search for new ways to grow or at least sustain print revenues, these products began to creep onto the directory spine and even the front cover, which was once considered a sacred, ad-free space. Today, at least 17 U.S. publishers sell big, bold display advertising on the front covers of their print directories, and at least eight offer tip-ons. In the United States, the aggressive selling of front cover ads and tips-ons has caused many directories, particularly those in large metropolitan areas, to resemble scoreboards at professional sports venues.
As competition among directory companies has heated up, a handful of publishers have decided to eliminate front cover advertising, instead reserving that space for the protection and promotion of their own brands. The publishers making these decisions have had to do some explaining to their own sales organizations, which fear the loss of such a high-ticket item without an equal replacement. Those publishers that have chosen to eliminate cover ads say the risk of lost revenues has been offset by the potential to restore their brands.