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Yellow pages grasping in selling law firms new online gimmicks

September 25, 2007

Acknowledging that they are getting killed by the Internet and by people’s ability to search for a local lawyer on the search engines, the yellow pages are really reaching this time. Per a story in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal (sub req’ed), yellow pages are selling video ads to law firms that will accompany the law firm’s online yellow page listing.

Read the article and you’ll see that video like this is totally unproven as a local advertising tool. But it’s being done as it fits right in with the yellow pages business model of always up-selling lawyers. Before it was color and large display ads. Now, added to your free online listing, it’s $1,000 for the ad production and then a payment for each click by a user to play the ad.

Plus, are you really going to trust page yellow page sales people to make sure you get a nice video? I was a plaintiff’s trial lawyer for 17 years. I bought plenty of yellow page ads. Took me a number of years to reach my own opinion that the sales person really didn’t give a darn how my ad looked as long as they up-sold me and got their sale.

Even the WSJ article notes production problems:

…[A]dvertisers have to be careful that they don’t hurt business with ads that look too cheesy. Some directory businesses hire videographers who try to steer advertisers away from content that might turn off consumers. But it doesn’t always work. Some of the ads look like snippets of infomercials with shots of cheery employees answering phones at a beauty salon, for example. Directory companies try to avoid problems by screening ads to make sure they’re G-rated and include basic information about businesses.

There are any number of ways for law firms to use the Internet effectively. Trying gimmicks meant to serve outmoded yellow pages business models are not among them.

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