AT&T Yellow Pages to Go Its Own Way on Usage Research

AT&T Yellow Pages announced a new research strategy yesterday that includes a phase-out of its participation in the current industry syndicated usage program, though the publisher will continue to follow a syndicated methodology and make results available.

AT&T will continue participating in the current syndicated usage program operated by Knowledge Networks/SRI in 2008 (which AT&T described as a “transition year”), measuring 30 markets, compared with 58 measured in 2007. AT&T will simultaneously begin its measurement through M/A/R/C this year.

According to the release, AT&T is working with M/A/R/C Research to develop a new research package that will measure 275 directory areas (comprising about 75 percent of revenue) with three research elements, call tracking, proprietary usage research (print and IYP) and a syndicated component. By “syndicated,” AT&T means, “markets will be pre-announced and have same-day release from M/A/R/C Research.”

This decision is clearly not very good news for Knowledge Networks, which also recently lost the Internet component of the Industry Usage Study, conducted on behalf of the Yellow Pages Association.

One interesting element of the new approach is the emphasis on call tracking. AT&T’s recent acquisition of Ingenio underscores the importance AT&T believes call measurement will have going forward. In addition, call measurement data gets to the heart of the value of Yellow Pages, so elevating its importance in the research package would appear to make sense.

AT&T says results from the M/A/R/C studies will be available beginning in 2009.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Troy

    I guess this is a case of if you don’t like the results, change the rules. Brilliant.

  2. Ray Shideler

    I agree with Troy…go with a research group you buy…excuse me pay for. In looking over the
    search engines , you find that companies DEX ATT & Idearc are moving away from
    independent studies they did not like and getting back to paid for research.

  3. Jim

    It appears to be a case of manipulating the system until you get the results that you want. It’s the same old game – how can you spin things so it looks like the business is thriving.

    If your research is pure (driven to discover the unadulterated facts) you don’t limit the research to your top markets, or otherwise do things that would skew the findings.

    Call tracking numbers can be deceptive since they typically include all calls without any identification of UNIQUE calls. The bottom line is that if your product is a great performer you don’t need to work so hard to try and prove it. Does Google need research reports to sell advertising?

    And the market tells you all you need to know. Business owners know what works and buy, or not, accordingly. When your print directories are shrinking, i.e., Atlanta, no amount of data can obfuscate the trends. And people are understanding that IYP is a minor part of finding business online. Let the MBA’s play with their research to have happier meetings. For the rest of us, we keep in touch with reality.

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