By Frank J. Romano March 30, 2006 -- New audience research methods improve media accountability. TV has its Nielsens; radio has its Arbitrons; and magazines have MRIs. The outdoor media industry and the point-of-purchase media industry have such tools. The Yellow Pages Industry now has Yellow Pages Market Reporter (YPMR), a syndicated audience measurement service. The printing industry needs the same thing. The Yellow Pages approach uses a third-party research organization and is supported by all YP constituencies--agencies, advertisers, and publishers. The printing industry is the last media industry operating without viable syndicated research. Knowledge Networks/SRI interviewed 75,000 Yellow Pages users in 125 geographic regions and 161 discrete directory distribution areas. The new ratings service was backed by 10 major Yellow Pages and directory publishers and 12 Yellow Pages agencies, or CMRs (certified marketing representatives), including Berry Network, CommNet Marketing, Cramer Krasselt, DAC Group, DCG Yellow Pages, Hurrelbrink Advertising, Ketchum Directory Advertising, Nationwide Yellow Pages; SMG Directory Marketing, TMP Directory Marketing, Wahlstrom Group, and YPM. The directory industry is undergoing a transformation as online search challenges paper-based directories. Sound familiar? Of 10 companies named by KnowledgeNetworks as participating in this inaugural study, two merged, with RH Donnelley acquiring Dex Media. Verizon, Ambassador, and Yellow Book all boast preeminence in hot demographics, including the growing Spanish-language markets. They can do this now that they have data to back up such claims. The new YPMR report provides data that allows advertisers and media buyers to target spending more efficiently. Although television advertising is based on national numbers, the Yellow Pages approach is market-by-market. The 2005 study represents 30 percent of the total U.S. adult population and 45 percent of consumers located in major county areas. Printers are being asked to show that print in general and VDP in particular has a better return than the previous way that companies distributed their non-publication advertisements. That leaves the printing industry as the last media industry operating without viable syndicated research. We have few tools to communicate the value of print to buyers and marketers, and we continue to sell print based on technical excellence rather than marketing excellence. Printers are being asked to show that print in general and VDP in particular has a better return than the previous way that companies distributed their non-publication advertisements. As printers, we do not know * how to determine the value of a response to an advertisement. * how much money is being made from the mailing--what the long term value of acquiring new customers is * why marketers do not recognize the related sales value from other products that result from the responses for the initial product/service of the mailing, etc. This is all about determining the value of print for the print customer. Printed material has an ROI. We have never thought of it that way.