Yellow Pages Unveil TV-Like Ratings Plan

Yet another medium has tapped a respected researcher to develop Nielsen-like ratings to elevate its status on Madison Avenue. And in a twist, it is not Nielsen. It is a one-time Nielsen TV ratings rival, Knowledge Networks/SRI, which the Yellow Pages industry on Thursday named to develop standardized usage ratings of telephone directories nationwide.

A committee of key stakeholders--including directory publishers, national advertisers, certified marketing representatives/Yellow Pages agencies, and Yellow Pages associations--made the selection. The new ratings system is expected to adhere to Advertising Research Foundation standards, and is scheduled to begin in the first quarter 2005, with initial data reported in early 2006.

A key goal of the ratings will be to determine Yellow Pages usage share documenting how many consumers refer to a specific directory in a given period.

Statistical Research Inc., a precursor to KN/SRI, developed the SMART TV ratings initiative that got close to creating a rival TV ratings service to compete with Nielsen. Nielsen, coincidentally, has been diversifying into all sorts of new areas of audience ratings measurement, including outdoor media, cinema advertising, video games, product placement, and sports sponsorships, and has an option to develop a joint venture with Arbitron that would provide both radio and TV ratings.



KN/SRI, which has deep roots in the radio ratings business, has been a major supplier of research to the Yellow Pages industry, and also markets a multimedia usage database called the Multimedia Mentor.

"Establishing a reliable, independent, third-party, audience-measurement research service will benefit advertisers and lift the entire industry in the eyes of national media buyers and ad planners," stated Neg Norton, president of the Yellow Pages Association.

Stakeholders involved in the initiative include: the Yellow Pages Association, Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of Directory Marketing, and the Association of Directory Publishers. Major U.S. Yellow Pages publishers--including SBC, Verizon, BellSouth, Dex Media, and Yellow Book--also support the new research effort, and were represented on the advisory board.

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