Arbitron Says... On Second Thought
December 19, 2011 at 11:50 AM (PT)
After hearing a negative response about ARBITRON's planned total audience measurement service, Pres/CEO BILL KERR and EVP/COO SEAN CREAMER have sent a letter to clients explaining their earlier position, and announcing some changes. They wrote:
"In response to questions from our clients, ARBITRON is releasing the attached document to share our view on the question of whether it is appropriate or accurate to compare ARBITRON's audience estimates for broadcast radio to those of Internet music services.
"We believe this clarification is important in light of recently released audience estimates for Internet music services. Specifically, it raises the issue of whether Arbitron’s radio audience estimates are equivalent to those derived from Internet music services’ in-house server log files.
We strongly advise clients to avoid comparing self-reported audience estimates from Internet music services to ARBITRON radio audience estimates given the following:
The advertising may be presented in a completely different way.
The listening model for most Internet music services is 'one to one.' As an example, a user of an Internet music service will likely not be served an ad until being signed on for a specified amount of time. Additionally, each user may be served a different ad.
The listening model for broadcast radio is 'one to many;' specifically, listeners are exposed to the same commercials at the same time and without regard to how long they have been listening to the station.
The audience estimates for the Internet music service may be derived in a different manner than those of ARBITRON.
At ARBITRON, we publish a formal Description of Methodology -- a summary of the survey methods and calculations we use in developing our audience estimates. Unless the users have the equivalent information for the estimates of Internet music services, comparisons are not advisable.
Internet music services’ audience calculations may not employ an equivalent validation for the presence of an actual listener—or who’s there.
Some Internet music services are comparing time 'served' on a computer to radio's time spent 'listening.' Just because a file is being served, does not mean there is anyone on the other side listening.
ARBITRON employs a number of procedures to determine the probability someone is actually listening, which includes a motion detector built into our PPM to better enable us to determine that we are measuring an actual person’s exposure.
Because ARBITRON estimates and the Internet music service estimates are based on differing methods of deriving 'time spent,' making direct comparisons between the two is not recommended.
Internet music services might not confirm the age, gender, or geographic location supplied by the user.
At ARBITRON, we know who is listening through our various respondent procedures. Internet music services use self-reported registration data. Unless the Internet music service employs some form of validation, it is not possible to know if the information provided is correct. For example, if a person uses more than one account, it could impact any measure of Internet music service reach or Cume because a single person could be counted more than once.
ARBITRON's goal is to assist the marketplace in making the best decisions possible when using estimates to buy and sell access to audiences. Highlighting the differences between estimates, especially those that use the same labels and descriptions as Arbitron radio estimates, is part of our obligation to the industries we serve."
Read the document that was attached to this letter here.