If you just read the headline from each of the companies reporting on the new national syndication research results, you could be excused if you thought that a lot of companies are the most used Yellow Pages directories. Some companies are taking the results from a few cities and seem to be implying that they are the national leaders. We are concerned that this is a slippery slope.
Who is No. 1 among cola beverages? If you ask that question in Texas, the answer would be Dr. Pepper. If you exclude fountain sales, Pepsi sells the most nationwide. But overall, Coke is the leader. Frankly, I don’t really care. I drink the cola beverage that I prefer.
In the automotive category, General Motors says Chevrolet was the top-selling brand in the U.S. last year, but Ford disagrees. Ford bases its leadership claim on third-party data compiled by auto research firm R.L. Polk. Unlike Coke and Pepsi, which combined have over 90 percent of the cola market share, Ford and Chevrolet face a significant challenger in Toyota, whose brand is closing the gap, particularly when bulk sales of vehicles to fleets aren’t counted.
A medium is a different animal than a beverage or a car, but the ability to show your publication as the leader in a particular market, especially on a cost-per-use basis, can be a valuable tool. If syndicated research is here to stay, and The Kelsey Group hopes it will be because it supports our ROI story, we need to have standards that everyone who participates agrees to.
If the Yellow Pages industry wants the credibility that syndicated research gives it, headlines and claims must be reasonable. I am not suggesting that any company has not told the truth in its press releases, but it is most important that the perception by advertisers reflect reality in the particular markets in which they are trying to reach their users. Otherwise, syndicated research won’t be taken seriously.