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Michael Spalter evidently has a very restricted view of market research when he predicts its "death ... and the birth of market usership" ("Interactive Age will transform market research into `usership'," AA, May 9).

He goes on to quote Jim Birschbach as saying that "Nielsen can tell us about viewership, but we can tell you about usership." Do neither of these gentlemen know that Nielsen and market measurement are not the beginning and end of market research? Long before the information superhighway was a gleam in anyone's eye, advertisers had been getting feedback from the consumer via market research. Market research is exactly the "exchange of ideas between advertiser and consumer ..." that Mr. Spalter preaches.

Mr. Spalter thinks that knowing "when and for how long a consumer viewed a particular image is revolutionary." Market researchers have been able to provide that sort of information-albeit in a simulated viewing environment-for many years. I have no doubt that interactive technology will provide it more quickly and more accurately. But-as with the older technology-it will not provide any better answers to questions like, "Why did they zap the ad?" "How can the advertising be made more involving and more compelling?" To answer those sort of questions, we will have to go on asking consumers questions and listening to what they say. This is evidently the sort of market research that Mr. Spalter doesn't know about. I think its "death" is very unlikely.

Max Blackston

President, Research International Brand & Communications

New York

Michael Spalter joins a chorus of those whose myopic views of advertising lend only the weakest of foundations to their arguments rallying marketers to jump on the information superhighway in order to establish a revolutionary dialogue with consumers.

Mr. Spalter is correct in his apparent perception that nothing could be more valuable to a marketer than a dialogue, an exchange of ideas between advertiser and consumer, feedback from consumer to marketer. Yet it is hardly a revolutionary notion, and certainly not one which awaits the interactive superhighway infrastructure.

Direct marketing has long provided savvy marketers with the basis for a powerful dialogue with customers and prospects and it already delivers, cost-effectively, every benefit Mr. Spalter enumerates-feedback to the marketer, and exchange of ideas between the consumer and the marketer, and accountability to the advertiser. It also delivers something very important that Mr. Spalter neglects to consider, an ongoing relationship with the customer.

Ronald D. Greene

Managing director

Devon Direct

Berwyn, Pa.

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