yellowpages phone book flipping page

Print Yellow Pages Biased Research

You have been charged with researching the value of directing a media buy toward a specific platform such as TV, radio, print yellow pages, or Google PPC. How far should your due diligence go? In our digital information bonanza, I miss yesterday’s trip to the university library to pull out a giant binder of full survey research papers. Yes, I can find the full papers online but they are needles in shoddy research SEO haystacks.

Accountability of “research” is diminishing. What is the connection to the accompanying trend of widespread anonymity? Perhaps we’d rather not know.

Granted, survey research has never been guaranteed bias-free. But faster, efficiently indexed information at our fingertips costs us data integrity.

yellowpages phone book flipping page

A new study released by AT&T claims that PYP (print yellow pages) advertising is highly relevant for marketers:

…The conclusion that print Yellow Pages are still valuable for advertisers and consumers was confirmed in another study by CRM Associates, which is a market analysis and consulting firm headquartered in Boulder, Colo. -Ken Ray, AT&T Advertising Solutions

Amidst many other studies demonstrating evidence that champions digital media spend, I needed to examine AT&T’s research methods:

Three AT&T study references of PRNewswire:  Consumers Turn to AT&T’s Real Yellow Pages Directories More Often Than Others:
1. WSJ.com In Charge Blog 4/18/11: Yellow Pages Turns to Local Search ** – Angus Loten

2. EIDQ.org * 4/6/11: Latest Research Confirms Yellow Pages Still Premiere Provider in Local Search
3. Screenwerk.com 4/6/11: Research: AT&T Says Print YP Still Strong -Greg Sterling

*EIDQ: First off, Ken Ray states that the findings confirm. No. Research findings never confirm hypotheses. They provide evidence that supports. Please refer to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions or a Survey Research Methods 101 class.

CRM Associates www.crmassoc.com home

2. How seriously can we regard data from CRM when their website looks like this, with landing page audio and prominent offer of 2 CDs (compact discs) for $24.95 resembling Now That’s What I Call Music. The president has an @aol.com email address. Etc.

Back to AT&T’s original release. Issues:

  • Research bias, reporting bias, verification error: Study by Omnicom-owned M/A/R/C Research was sponsored by AT&T, a major PYP provider. (Caveat: Both have a stake in digital.)
  • Design bias: Question credibility and interests of companies involved
  • Inclusive bias: Sample selected for convenience (50,000 adults in 125 AT&T-serviced markets)
  • Correlation mistaken for causation

**WSJ blog states that 2/3 of U.S. adults still use print yellow pages. The statistic comes from “a local survey” by the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association). I have been unable to locate the original. (Can you?)

The stat may or may not be valid. But the real question is: Why is it so difficult to track down transparent, substantiated evidence?

  • Guest

    69% of all AT&T polls have a 70% margin of error.

  • SEOptimist

    69% of AT&T’s polls have a 70% margin of error. @emilybinder:twitter

  • Natalie Wuchenich

    The Local Search Association works with Burke, Inc. and comScore to release an annual Local Media Tracking Study, which provides insights on how consumers are searching for local business information. Both Burke and comScore are well-respected research organizations. Visit our blog, Local Search Insider, to review findings from our 2010 study: http://bit.ly/lJlxHq. More information on the study’s methodology is available here: http://bit.ly/k6Zmdk. 
    Natalie Wuchenich
    Director, Research
    Local Search Association

    • Hi Natalie. I wasn’t sure whether your comment was spam at first. Although the information you have provided is as valuable as spam, at least it is veiled with the Local Search Association’s seal of approval. Thank you for attempting to answer my challenges to your company’s research. You have only confirmed my suspicions about its validity.

      Is this a canned response for anyone who critiques your study? I can’t believe it was actually written by someone who read my entire post and cared to invalidate my critiques of your shoddy research. You haven’t addressed any of my talking points. Directing me to these two trackable shortlinks is hardly a thoughtful or valid response. If this is your research department’s version of CRM, I recommend that you dig a bit deeper; thoughtful, educated consumers who review your research deserve better. (By the way, your profile’s empty avatar and lack of a URL doesn’t help. I can’t quite tell if you’re real…?)

      It would be most helpful if you’d actually address each of the research biases I cite. Better yet, if your reply is meant to answer my question,

      **WSJ blog states that 2/3 of U.S. adults still use print yellow pages. The statistic comes from “a local survey” by the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association). I have been unable to locate the original. (Can you?)

      then you have not.

      What about the 2011 WSJ article’s statement relates to the 2010 study you are shortlinking me to? For someone who doesn’t read with the critical thinking skills of a highschool freshman, your reply alone (with its unvalidated signature and scary shortlinks to poorly written, subjective blog reviews of internal studies) would silence that person. Wrong blog: survey research is kind of my jam.

      As you track the clicks on these two URLs of yours coming from the above comment, will you return to my blog and actually respond in full if you see referral traffic spike? Did you find my inflammatory blog post pouring water through the holes in your study via Radian 6 or Ice Rocket or…? Otherwise, what was the purpose of the bit.lys?

      Further, how telling: Here are two of the four comments posted (approved) on Local Search Association’s March 2010 self-congratulatory post which you seem to indicate above was factual and unbiased:

      Jeremy Mruczek says:
      January 31, 2011 at 2:18 pm
      I think your blog is excellent I found it on Bing. Definetely will return tomorrow! I am very exsiting about learning newthings Have a good day, Margot

      Nancie Bisset says:
      January 31, 2011 at 2:18 pm
      Nice commentary. Last Month I found this site and wanted to let you know that I have been gratified, going through your site’s posts. I shall be signing up to your RSS feed and might wait for your next post. Best Regards, Lisa

      I too could approve the hundreds of spam comments like these to make my blog appear more popular or valid. However, I understand that they do the opposite, as they have on your transparent, un-spell-checked post. (I’ll blog more about these data points in the days and weeks ahead, but I believe they demonstrate a critical point: advertiser’s can benefit from the Yellow Pages industry’s new agency model – where depending on your business, target customer, and geographic location – you can work with your Yellow Pages rep to put together a program that will work best and focuses on the right kind of advertising. -Larry Small of Local Search Association).

      You can’t be serious here.

    • Hi Natalie. I wasn’t sure whether your comment was spam at first. Although the information you have provided is as valuable as spam, at least it is veiled with the Local Search Association’s seal of approval. Thank you for attempting to answer my challenges to your company’s research. You have only confirmed my suspicions about its validity.

      Is this a canned response for anyone who critiques your study? I can’t believe it was actually written by someone who read my entire post and cared to invalidate my critiques of your shoddy research. You haven’t addressed any of my talking points. Directing me to these two trackable shortlinks is hardly a thoughtful or valid response. If this is your research department’s version of CRM, I recommend that you dig a bit deeper; thoughtful, educated consumers who review your research deserve better. (By the way, your profile’s empty avatar and lack of a URL doesn’t help. I can’t quite tell if you’re real…?)

      It would be most helpful if you’d actually address each of the research biases I cite. Better yet, if your reply is meant to answer my question,

      **WSJ blog states that 2/3 of U.S. adults still use print yellow pages. The statistic comes from “a local survey” by the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association). I have been unable to locate the original. (Can you?)

      then you have not.

      What about the 2011 WSJ article’s statement relates to the 2010 study you are shortlinking me to? For someone who doesn’t read with the critical thinking skills of a highschool freshman, your reply alone (with its unvalidated signature and scary shortlinks to poorly written, subjective blog reviews of internal studies) would silence that person. Wrong blog: survey research is kind of my jam.

      As you track the clicks on these two URLs of yours coming from the above comment, will you return to my blog and actually respond in full if you see referral traffic spike? Did you find my inflammatory blog post pouring water through the holes in your study via Radian 6 or Ice Rocket or…? Otherwise, what was the purpose of the bit.lys?

      Further, how telling: Here are two of the four comments posted (approved) on Local Search Association’s March 2010 self-congratulatory post which you seem to indicate above was factual and unbiased:

      Jeremy Mruczek says:
      January 31, 2011 at 2:18 pm
      I think your blog is excellent I found it on Bing. Definetely will return tomorrow! I am very exsiting about learning newthings Have a good day, Margot

      Nancie Bisset says:
      January 31, 2011 at 2:18 pm
      Nice commentary. Last Month I found this site and wanted to let you know that I have been gratified, going through your site’s posts. I shall be signing up to your RSS feed and might wait for your next post. Best Regards, Lisa

      I too could approve the hundreds of spam comments like these to make my blog appear more popular or valid. However, I understand that they do the opposite, as they have on your transparent, un-spell-checked post:
      I’ll blog more about these data points in the days and weeks ahead, but I believe they demonstrate a critical point:  advertiser’s can benefit from the Yellow Pages industry’s new agency model – where depending on your business, target customer, and geographic location – you can work with your Yellow Pages rep to put together a program that will work best and focuses on the right kind of advertising.
      -Larry Small of Local Search Association

      You can’t be serious here.

  • Equivalent to the 30 second flash intro and angelfirey website you mention is the Local Search Association’s comment above.

    • This of course is subjective, but none the less a conviction.
      Marketing in general has a target audience of the less informed and undecided.
      The process begins by bringing the ‘market’ to the audience rather than the consumer to the market. Innately, this is intending to sell (nothing wrong there) before rendering a service or good to fulfill a need. (<-something wrong here). In that small space between the need and the sell is where I decide to spend my dollar. How a company, vendor, or salesman listens to the consumer is where reputations are built.

      Selling is not my gripe, the point in which the sale is lubricated beyond the consumers or audiences needs is. Worse, is the selling of a subpar or vastly inferior service or good as is the Yellow-pages scenario.

      They are clearly aware of the failing model and have employed slippery tactics to continue with a long antiquated practice.

      ***"The Local Search Association works with Burke, Inc. and comScore to
      release an annual Local Media Tracking Study, which provides insights on
      how consumers are searching for local business information. "***

      I hope no serious money was spend on this study. What were the sample statistcs? (Age, demographics?) This was certainly not done in any populated city like NY, Chicago, LA, ATL) Ask anyone there and they would have you a listing and reviews to nearly any local business within seconds.
      In a time when links are posted as if they were supporting depositions or evidence on trial, they should also be transparent as to the source and validity.

      As you can see, I've observed this exact failed business schema for sometime:  http://goo.gl/aCCB4
      Attached are the results of my less formal study into the usefulness of the Yellow-pages.

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