Yellow Pages

From Academic Kids

In many countries, the Yellow Pages refers to a telephone directory for businesses organized by the category of product or service. As the name suggests, they are usually printed on yellow paper.


In general

Yellow Pages directories are usually published annually and distributed for free to all residences and businesses within a given coverage area. The majority of listings are in plain small black text. Yellow Pages publishers make their profits by selling special value-added features to businesses such as a larger font size for their listing, or an advertisement box next to the listings in a category. Since the mid-1990s, there has been a trend among Yellow Pages publishers to add four-color printing for some advertisements.

Many publishers now make their listings available on the World Wide Web, on "Yellow Pages" Web sites.

The information contained in the Yellow Pages is essentially a commodity, so publishers often engage in product differentiation tactics like bragging that their listings are more comprehensive or up-to-date. In 1999, a new tactic was pioneered by France Telecom's Pages Jaunes, which dispatched photographers to record nearly every possible view in front of nearly every address in certain French cities. Thus, French Yellow Pages users can see a photograph of a business along with its phone number and street address. In 2004, the search engine added a similar feature for many cities in the United States when it launched its Yellow Pages feature.

United States

At least until the anti-trust breakup of the Bell System in the late 20th century, the term "Yellow Pages" was a trademark for commercial directories and the commercial portions of the by-commercial-category sections of directories that also include by-name listings. Directories were published on behalf of the component Bell companies by the various publishing companies.

Then and since, phone companies or their agents sell the right to place advertisements within the same category, next to the basic listings. Since the Bell breakup, other companies publish directories that compete with those of local telephone companies for advertising business. Some of these publishers are pure advertising operations with no phone infrastructure. Others are telephone companies who provide local telephone service in areas adjacent to those covered by the main telephone company in the area.

For example, SBC Communications is the dominant local telephone service provider in California, but for strange historical reasons, Verizon Communications provides service in many "pockets" such as West Los Angeles. Los Angeles telephone users can select from telephone directories published by SBC, Verizon, and several independent advertising companies.

United Kingdom

With the encouragement of The Thomson Corporation, at the time an advertising sales agent for the nationalised General Post Office's telephone directory, a business telephone number directory named the Yellow Pages was first produced in 1966 by the GPO for the Brighton area, and was rolled out nationwide in 1973. The Thomson Corporation formed Thomson Yellow Pages in 1966 to publish and to distribute the directory to telephone subscribers for the GPO, and later for The Post Office.

Thomson Yellow Pages was sold by The Thomson Corporation in 1980, at the same time as Post Office Telecommunications became the (then) state-owned British Telecom (BT). The Yellow Pages directory continued to be distributed to all telephone subscribers by BT. At the same time, The Thomson Corporation formed Thomson Directories Ltd, and began to publish the Thomson Local directory, which would remain the Yellow Pages' main, and often sole, competitor in the UK for more than the next two decades, and would be the competitive driving force behind such changes to Yellow Pages as the adoption (in 1999) of colour printing and "knock-out-white" listings.

In 1984, the year that BT was privatized, the department producing the directory became a stand alone subsidiary of BT, named Yellow Pages. In the mid-1990s the Yellow Pages business was re-branded as Yell, although the directory itself continued to be known as the Yellow Pages.

Yell was bought by venture capitalists in 2001, and in 2003 was floated on the Stock Exchange. After the one year "no competition" clause expired BT too went into competition with the Yellow Pages, re-entering the market with "The Phone Book", an "all in one" offering which contained the traditional alphabetical domestic and business listings as well as a new classified section.



Australia's business directory was first published in its own volume in 1973 as the Yellow Pages. The directory was originally produced by the Postmaster General, and continued to be produced by the government, as the telephone system transferred to Telecom Australia and now Telstra. Today, the Yellow Pages is produced by Sensis, a wholly-owned advertising subsidiary of Telstra.

The Yellow Pages have for many years produced some of Australia's most popular television commercials, often highlighting the perils of not placing an advertisement in the directory on time. The most famous of these immortalised the phrase "Not Happy Jan" in the Australian vernacular.

In specific localised areas of the Australian Capital Territory, it has been known to be used as toilet paper when there is none left in the house.


In France Yellow Pages are referred to as Pages Jaunes. They are distributed free by, a company affiliated with France Telecom., the .com version of Pages Jaunes, was the issue of a major court case at WIPO; the original registrant, an individual from Los Angeles, won against France Telecom.

This court decision was path-setting for the whole Yellow Pages industry, as it decided that the phrase "Yellow Pages" cannot be considered the property of a single company. Previously, many former state monopoly telecom companies outside the US had tried to ban competition by claiming the term "yellow pages", or the translation of "yellow pages" into the vernacular, as their exclusive trademark.

Vivendi Universal moved to enter the French Yellow Pages market in 2001 with, but the attempt was a killed by a reorganisation of the struggling company. Since the liberalization of .fr domains in May 2004, the domain has been registered by Phonebook of the Another French editor of Yellow Pages is Bottin.

Other countries

In Belgium the equivalent directory is titled Gouden Gids (Dutch) or Pages d'Or (French), and is distributed free to each telephone subscriber.

In Finland the directory is called Keltaiset sivut.

In Germany a directory titled Die Gelben Seiten is distributed free to each subscriber.

In Indonesia, the telecommunication company TELKOM with PT. Infomedia Nusantara (one of its subsidiaries), regularly publishes phone books. The phone book consisted of white pages and yellow pages. The phone book is updated regularly (typically every six months or a year) and is published in various editions (depending where the book is published).

In Netherlands the equivalent directory is titled Gouden Gids; within the district concerned it is distributed free to each telephone subscriber.

In Sweden it's called Gula sidorna, distributed by Eniro AB.

In Switzerland the company Swisscom Directories AG produces and distributes directories in several forms including internet-based yellow pages in four languages, including English. The company Swissguide AG provides additional business information on all Swiss companies.

In Canada the company Yellow Pages Group produces and distributes directories in both English and French. Yellow Pages Group is the market leader in print and online commercial directories and one of the largest media companies in Canada.

In China, the modern yellow pages industry was started in the late 1990’s with the formation of two international joint ventures between US yellow pages publishers and China’s telecom operators, namely: a joint venture started in Shenzhen between RHDonnelley and China Unicom (later including Hong Kong’s PCCW and InfoSpace); and a joint venture between China Telecom Shanghai and what later came to be known as the yellow pages operations of Verizon Communications Corp.(NYSE:VZ).

Later, another mainly state-owned telecom operator, China Netcom began to produce, either directly or on a sub-contracted basis, yellow pages in selected cities around the country. By early 2005, there were a number of independent local and international yellow pages operators in numerous cities including Yilong Huangbaoshu, based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province with operations in Hangzhou and Ningbo.

See Also

  • Yellowikis - an on-line wiki based business directory
  • Wikicompany - an on-line wiki based business directory

External links

National pages


nl:Gouden Gids de:Gelbe Seiten


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