It appears that BellSouth and SBC paid around $100 million for YellowPages.com. Certainly a good price for the name and the site from both the buyer and seller’s perspective. With some branding, some advertising, and additional information BS and SBC will have a big leg up in the yellow pages directory search. The value of a good brand should not be underestimated, but is often underestimated when viewed solely from a domain perspective traffic perspective v.s. a potential/branding perspective.
With even average traffic of 100,000 yellow pages searches per day (which I think is very low for yellowpages.com), that implies around 36.5 million searches per year and between 109 and 150 million page views per year [Dec 2008 update: I think those figures are definitely low today]. At a $20/cpm [2009 update: I think that figure is low now] that would imply close to $3 million per year in revenue. This a similar number of white pages search, which implies $5-6 million annual in revenue. Personally, without any inside information, I believe they do 500,000 to 1,000,000 yellow pages and white pages searches per day, which implies $25-$30 million in annual revenues just from the yellowpages.com site.
An improvement in the SERPs, which will probably happen with large companies behind them could easily double or triple that figure.
The actual value and implied value there is tremendous, and with more branding their price will seem like a bargain.