A newly published study has concluded that YP.com advertisers see a meaningfully lower “cost per call” vs. those using Google AdWords. The study was commissioned by YP, formerly AT&T Interactive and AT&T Advertising Solutions. The average cost-per-call for YP ads was $46 vs. $88 for AdWords.

More specifically, the study found that the YP cost-per-call “ranged from $8 ? $162, compared to a much wider range of $17 ? $257 for AdWords.” The study was conducted earlier this year by third party research firm Altman Vilandrie & Company.

Here’s the company’s statement about YP’s involvement:

Altman Vilandrie & Company was commissioned by YP—at the time known as AT&T Interactive and AT&T Ad Solutions—to conduct an independent study of cost-per-call performance. YP financed the study and provided logistical support but was not involved in the study’s execution or subsequent analysis. YP was also afforded the opportunity to review and comment on this paper before it was published, although Altman Vilandrie & Company retained final editorial control. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of Altman Vilandrie & Company and/or its members/associates.

The study involved 62 businesses representing 20 local business categories in 18 US cities. The businesses were given a monthly ad budget of  $1,000 to spend on ads in YP and AdWords. Forty eight of the 62 participants were already AdWords customers. Each of the participants was also set up with a YP “Platinum Plus Listing.”

Call tracking was used to monitor leads from both YP and AdWords for “at least one month.” Telemarketing calls and other “false leads” (multiple calls from the same number) were filtered out. At the end of the test period data were compiled and an average cost-per-call calculated for both YP and AdWords.

According to the report, 77 percent of the participating advertisers “achieved better cost-per-call performance with YP ads than with Google AdWords.” In only three categories did AdWords deliver a better cost per call (see graphic above).

Some will see this outcome as “biased” or controversial. However, one simple explanation of the result is that there are more advertisers competing in the Google AdWords system, thus driving up prices. There’s also more “price stability” in the YP ad program.

If you want to review the methodology, which I’ve only superficially described, you can obtain a copy of the full study here.

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