Verizon Information Services was out of the gate quickly with a press release touting its usage share leadership position in Manhattan, Washington, DC, the Bronx and Brooklyn, citing data from the Yellow Pages Market Reporter, a new syndicated usage service from Knowledge Networks/SRI. Verizon competes in these markets with Yellow Book and Ambassador Publishing (in the New York markets). Verizon's release says nothing about the degree to which it beat its competitors.
This announcement suggests syndicated research may become as much a public relations tool as it is a credible research resource for agencies and national advertisers.
What is interesting about this announcement is that it shows how much the syndicated research game is subject to spin. The syndicated research methodology has undergone tremendous scrutiny, and all participants have accepted it, so the results Verizon is touting do not appear to be in dispute. However, it really isn't necessary for Yellow Book or Ambassador to have a No. 1 market position for either of them to declare their own victory. All that is required is enough usage to make buying an ad in one of their books a good value.
We imagine this announcement will be the first salvo in an ongoing press release battle over which publisher really is the winner in the syndicated usage game. We hope ultimately everyone wins by attracting more advertisers, who now gain confidence in the medium because it has a third-party measurement program in place.