While general market Yellow Pages usage has remained stagnant for the past few years, Hispanic usage has increased. And with profit margins as high as 80 percent, it’s not surprising that publishers are eager to capture even a small piece of this growing market.
There are currently 215 Spanish-language Yellow Pages directories published in the United States (7,000 in the general market). Of those, almost half (83) are published in California, 18 in Texas, 11 in Colorado, 10 in Florida and 9 in New York. James Thessen, account manager at National Direct Media Service, an agency that focuses on Yellow Pages and Internet advertising, works with advertisers to place ads in Hispanic advertisers. Gavidia says that real estate is also a big ad category, explaining that many agents use the directory listing to complement radio and TV ads where consumers might hear their name, but not get all the contact information.
According to Luis Bermudez founding partner of Hispanic Yellow Pages Network, an independent company which now owns 15 Spanish-language directories in 8 markets, including Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago, advertisers in Hispanic Yellow Pages are increasingly the same ones you will find in general market directories.
“Hispanics want all the same things that general market consumers want and need. As advertisers and agencies figure that out, the Spanish and English Yellow Pages will look very similar.” He says that sometimes ad categories will be organized differently based on the traditions of a particular culture. “In a place with predoaminantly Mexican-Americans, the Hispanic Yellow Pages might have a heading like ‘quinceañeras’ with all the business listings for products and services related to that event,” explains Bermudez.
In terms of national versus local advertising, Bermudez says that in HYP’s experience building their Yellow Pages network it has varied from publication to publication. “Some of the publications we’ve purchased have no national advertising. Others have up to about 8% national.” Kathy Hipple, CEO of Nuestra Guia in Manhattan says advertising is split evenly between national and local. Major national accounts in Nuestra Guia came from the U.S. Airforce, State Farm, and Allstate.
Utility publishers vs. independent Hispanic directories
Major utilities publishers like Verizon, SBC, Bell South, and Dex have resources and well-established distribution systems that allow them to get directories to a greater number of people. According to public affairs spokesperson Mary de la Garza, Verizon is the largest distributor of Hispanic Yellow Pages in the U.S., distributing 57 editions to more than 10 million Hispanic households in major markets in California, Florida, Texas, and New York/ New Jersey (Verizon website).
SBC makes the same claim with distribution of more than 800 editions to 23.2 million Hispanics nationwide (SIMBA – Yellow Pages Market Forecast, 2002). While Thessen acknowledges that there are advantages to advertising with utilities publishers, he says more isn’t always better. “Sometimes the translations aren’t as accurate or the same headings don’t work as well in Spanish. We’ve had discussions about that with AeroMexico. Sometimes they’ll end up under headings that are counter-intuitive to Hispanic readers.” Thessen says that independent Hispanic directories are more consistent and have a better understanding of how a Hispanic reader is likely to look for a particular service or product. Thessen also points out that independent Spanish-language Yellow Pages are more likely to contain only listings for businesses with Spanish-speaking employees working for them. Since most of the utility publishers basically translate English language pubs into Spanish, some of the businesses might not be able to provide good customer service in Spanish. And often, utilities publishers don’t have the same connection to the market. “Independent Hispanic publishers sponsor events and are usually more invested in the communities they serve,” explains Thessen.
Internet vs. Yellow Pages
Key word searches are becoming more and more common as a way to find local products and services, especially with people under 40, says Thessen. “Google and Yahoo have local portals so it’s really easy to find everything you need on-line,” he explains. Although most Hispanic Yellow Pages publishers have or are establishing on-line directories, they don’t see the internet taking the place of the Yellow Pages. “The internet isn’t taking away from directory usage,” says Luis Bermudez, founding partner of HYP Network. “If you look at the dynamics of the industry there has not been a big drop in ad dollars going to directories.” Gavidia agrees. “Internet has not hurt business. The immigrant population is always renewing itself.”