Trying To Understand PPM ... No Such Thing As A Dumb Question
September 22, 2015
I am encouraged by the number of people who seem to drink up information. Finding out how something works gives me an adrenalin boost and makes me want to know more.
All questions are relevant and there is no such thing as a dumb question. Well, let me correct myself, in my lifetime there was one dumb question and I heard it in fourth grade. This kid's first name was Dury and in case he reads this in the blogger-sphere someday, I will skip the last name.
He had this bizarre habit of asking questions during class which were not related to the subject being discussed. This quirk of his led to him being ostracized and singled out by his peers on numerous occasions. For example, in junior high every weekday morning we would play an individual basketball game called "21." No matter the number of guys playing, the object is for one person to score points and the person who gets to 21 wins. Your opponent is everyone and the number of players can range from 2 people to 15 or more.
If you were known for being good, a couple of guys might guard you, but in Dury's case, everybody would go after him when the ball was in his hands. It was sad in one respect but funny as hell to watch him rebound and shoot so fast before being converged upon. Actually he developed the quickest fade-away jump shot I had ever seen. But back to the reason he was so picked on.
I can't remember the topic, but I do know it was close to lunch time when Dury raised his hand and my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Dixon acknowledged him. He asked "Mrs. Dixon, does baloney hatch?" We all just looked at him and I thought, really? You had to know Dury; he was serious. Mrs. Dixon had this look on her face as if to say, "This poor child doesn't have a clue."
Fortunately, the question I had this week is not dumb, but one that many have asked about when it comes to PPM
Jock: You have written about PPM a couple of times and I have one thing that still confuses me and that is the listener thing.
Coach: Listener thing?
Jock: You have mentioned before exposed and listeners. Doesn't PPM measure what people listen to? I am in a diary market and my PD has only worked here and one other place and I asked him about this and he said he had no experience with PPM.
Coach: The PPM cellphone-like meter devise measures listening of what PPM panelists are exposed to, it does not mean it measures everything they like listening to. In other words, many times consumers are in situations having to endure whatever others are have on, like at work or walking through electronics at a Best Buy.
Jock: So how does that work?
Coach: Okay, here is the deal: A meter recognizes all the coded radio or digital audio an individual PPM panelist is exposed to during the course of a day. Part of the technology built into the meter operates similarly to the electronic ankle bracelets that utilize landline phones to monitor the location of those serving jail time at home. These meters serve two purposes: indicating motion (when a panelist is carrying the meter) and recording the exposed coded silent radio and digital signals. The motion sensor on the meter reveals if a panelist is home or away from home.
As a person is breathing, moving and wearing the meter, a green indicator light will remain on. If there is no motion for 30 minutes, a red light comes on, indicating a panelist is not wearing the meter. A unit battery lasts for 24 hours. Nielsen looks for a certain number of motion hours per day: a five-hour minimum for ages 6-17, an eight-hour minimum for ages 18+.
Panelists can listen as little or as much as they want, but the daily motion minimums have to be met for recorded listening to count for measurement. The amount of motion time is monitored and converted to a number of points earned for the day. These points determine the incentives paid to the panelist.
Jock: Wow, so even if you are not paying attention to what's on, the meter will pick it up, so a lot of listening isn't really listening?
Coach: More or less, PPM ratings are a combination of actual listening and the exposed audio signal pickup of panelist who might not in control of what they are listening to.
Jock: Shouldn't it be all about what the listener's favorite station is?
Coach: Theoretically, yes, but it's a measurement system based on a certain number of selected panelists for a given time to measure radio listening. Anyway, good question and I hope I have helped some.
Jock: You did, now I know enough to have a lot more questions.
Coach: There is a lot to understand, but I will give you the number of other people you can call and here are 3 links which you might find helpful; one goes back to the days of Arbitron and the others are Nielsen links: