Yesterday we released new data from Burke that showed both strong reach and trust for Yellow Pages products. I thought today I’d explain a little bit more about how and why we collect these data.
YPA has conducted research to understand consumer use of our products for years. We make these data available to our members who use it as competitive intelligence, and we release it to analysts and media to help them understand our role in local search and generating leads for local businesses.
About two years ago, we realized we needed to reinvent our data collection process. Our previous usage study had become antiquated – it only polled consumers via land line telephone interviews and it did not measure the reach of other sources of local business information.
Those two deficiencies were critical. Internet and cell phones have made land line-only surveys unreliable since many in certain demographics no longer use land lines. And as media fragmented, consumers started searching for local information by consulting multiple sources. Add that Yellow Pages companies now partner with search engines, offer SEO/SEM services, and even provide direct mail, and it’s easy to see we needed a much broader perspective on media used for local search.
So we commissioned the research firm Burke to create a completely new survey. And thus, our new Local Media Tracking Study was created.
We wanted the sample to represent the overall population. Here’s how we achieved a fair representation of American consumers:
- Multi-mode data collection with 80% online and 20% telephone participants.
- A balanced-screening method to ensure the survey sample is in proportion to the actual U.S. adult population – including age and geography (urban, suburban, and rural).
- Interviewing spread across all days of the week and all weeks of the year.
- The survey took about 20 minutes, on average, to complete.
- Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.
- Goal was to collect 8,000 interviews over a 12-month period. For the 2009 analysis, we actually conducted 8,062 interviews.
The questionnaire was designed to measure a number of key areas including reach, annual references, and perceptions – data points that we released yesterday.
For reach, the question asked was: “We would like to know when, if ever, you last used some potential sources to look up information to find a business, or to shop or look for a product or service in your local area. Please include your use at home, at work, or elsewhere.” Then we listed a number of options including print Yellow Pages, Internet Yellow Pages, search engines, magazines, newspapers, etc. in a random order, so as not to highlight any one option.
To understand perceptions about the Yellow Pages and search engines, the interviewer read a series of statements. The instructions were as follows: “For each of the statements, please indicate which one of the following media is described best by the statement: Is the source I trust the most for finding local business information; Is the most accurate source for finding local business information.”
To calculate annual print references, Burke uses a formula that estimates the percent of use against the total U.S. adult population.
Future of the Local Media Tracking Study
In addition to the 2009 reach and trust data, we collected other information from consumers that we plan to release soon, including brand awareness at the time of search and post-search actions for Yellow Pages products.
We’re also continuing to collect data in 2010, which means we’ll have a new set of data points next year. What’s most exciting about that is we can trend the year over year data, so we’ll see how print Yellow Pages and Internet Yellow Pages are doing compared to the wider local search universe.
I am extremely pleased with the first Local Media Tracking study. I believe it achieves the objectives we set out to accomplish, providing YPA members and observers with thought-provoking data based on the most acceptable research methodology we’ve ever used.