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Poll: Phone book becoming irrelevant

More than 60% of Americans find the phone book an irrelevant source for finding local telephone numbers, according to a Ron Sachs Communications/Mason-Dixon national poll. Although the poll found seniors among the most likely to use the phone book, its future looks bleak as its obsolescence increases among younger Americans.

“The phone book is on life support and local businesses should expect its death to officially occur sometime in the next few years,” said Ron Sachs, president of Ron Sachs Communications. “Americans are finding the Internet and their cell phones a more convenient and reliable source for phone numbers over the phone book at a staggering rate, and as a result, phone book advertising is nearly akin to advertising over the telegraph.”

According to estimates, American businesses spent $13 billion on phone book advertising in 2009 — more than all of the combined ad sales in the magazine industry. The poll found more than 51% of respondents report the phone book has no influence on their purchasing decisions.

From December 8 through December 14, 1,100 adults were surveyed as part of the Ron Sachs Communications/Mason Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. poll. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Among the polls key findings:

  • Three out of every four Americans rely on the Internet and cell phones for finding telephone numbers over the phone book.
  • Only 3% of Americans report they have used the phone book in the last week.
  • Nearly 8 out of 10 people 18-29 years old have no use for the phone book.
  • Nearly one quarter of Americans discard their phone books immediately with one third of Americans under the age of 45 reporting they immediately throw away their phone books when delivered to their door.
  • Nearly half of all respondents expect to use their phone book either much less or not at all in 5 years.

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