In the early 1990s, a group of publishers, certified marketing representatives (CMRs) and Yellow Pages research firms worked with the Advertising Research Foundation to standardize print Yellow Pages usage research. From this work, the industry's first established definition of a print Yellow Pages reference was born.
While the reference definition and other usage-measurement guidelines created by this group are not enforced per se, they have added credibility to print directory research and enabled the industry to establish the economic value tied to a print reference. This has proven critical to selling advertisers on the value of the Yellow Pages. Fast forward 10 years and we find Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) players in the same predicament that print publishers were in before the establishment of these usage-measurement standards.
Although it is inherently easier to measure the usage of online directories than of printed books, since every action by an IYP user leaves an audit trail, IYP usage research is lacking in large part because of the absence of agreed-upon standards for measuring online directory usage. The problem is, IYP publishers each define an impression or IYP search in vastly different ways.
This disparity makes it nearly impossible for IYP publishers to know how they stack up against other online directory players. More importantly, it hinders an advertiser's ability to make valid comparisons of the IYP advertising options available to them and truly understand the value of an IYP reference. To make matters worse, the current lack of standards for IYP ad units, terminology and order processing makes doing business with online directory publishers that much more difficult, particularly for national advertisers.
Spurred to action by the slowing growth of IYP usage and ad revenue, a handful of CMRs, publishers and others in the IYP industry have joined forces with the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association (YPIMA) to address the problem.
In this White Paper, The Kelsey Group (TKG) looks at why these IYP players are pushing for standards and what is currently being done to bring about their development.
We also examine the many obstacles that could prevent the deployment and eventual effectiveness of IYP standards and discuss whether the creation of such standards will do anything to improve IYP usage and advertiser acceptance of online directories.