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A yearlong test begun last year by major Yellow Pages publishers offered 200 marketers free space, and it appears to be paying off with heavier national ad schedules in '97.

Just 15% of the $10.8 billion in Yellow Pages advertising comes from national advertising, and the Yellow Pages Publishers Association test program was meant to change that.

"I would say about 40% [of test advertisers at TMP] have made a rollout of a good, additional program," said Sarah Bernard, president of Advertising Research Corp., which monitored results for TMP Worldwide, New York, whose clients participated.


She cited Frigidaire Co., now rolling out a new schedule in phases that begins with a 17% increase in Yellow Pages ad spending, as well as Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.

Other TMP clients in the program were Nissan Motor Corp. USA, Pearle Vision, North American Van Lines and Time Warner.

J.C. Penney Co., a client of Ketchum Directory Advertising, reported increased advertising due to positive results from Yellow Pages testing as well.

While Kathleen Heller, marketing manager for Penney's styling salons, wouldn't talk dollars, she did say that before the '96 tests, only 100 of the 960 salons her company owns bought display-size advertising; after testing ads to compare photography vs. line art, layout and other parameters, all 960 salons will buy display ads for 1997-98 Yellow Pages editions.

"It's not so much that we increased our advertising budget as that we've diverted some funds . . . basically from newspaper advertising," Ms. Heller said. "Return on investment made a huge difference. In some of our local salons, people believed in Yellow Pages but couldn't prove its effectiveness. Others didn't believe at all."


YPPA President James Logan said the program also served as a research experiment both for advertisers and the agencies involved.

John Joseph, president of Ketch-um Directory Advertising, Chicago, said his agency launched a similar program for advertisers, including Budget Rent a Car Corp., five or six years ago.

"When you talk to a senior marketing person, sometimes the first two words out of their mouth are 'Prove it!' So we try to. Sometimes we work through MTM [Marketing the Medium, the name of YPPA's program], but other times we go direct to the publisher," Mr. Joseph said.

His agency has seven clients working through the YPPA program.

"We're not competing. We're all shooting for the same objective," he said.

While Ketchum and other Yellow Pages agencies that followed suit have negotiated free ad testing with publishers in the past, said Dan Graham, president of Yellow Pages agency Berry Network, Dayton, Ohio, "MTM took it to a higher level because there's more analysis . . . we didn't go to the level MTM did with prerequisites for testing."


For example, MTM lets advertisers test two forms of creative with two different phone numbers, making the creative that garnered the better response obvious based on phone numbers called.

Mr. Graham said Berry had in the past offered an ad study for its advertisers using similar response testing. Through Marketing the Medium to date, Magellan Medical Services-which acquired Berry national client Charter Hospital-is the first client to complete the program.

Magellan executives could not be reached for comment.

There are, however, obstacles to the return-on-investment testing, said Ms. Bernard and other executives involved with the program. One in particular is troub- lesome.

Because Yellow Pages are published once a year, by the time full-year test results are in, often budgets-and the managers overseeing them-have changed, meaning that both publishers and agencies may have to repitch the concept all

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