Houston PPM Carry Rates Plummet By 33% ... Now An Arbitron Data Error!
August 21, 2007 at 2:31 PM (PT)
Updating our ongoing story about HOUSTON PPM intab declines, ARBITRON SVP/Press And Investor Relations THOM MOCARSKY has released the following:
There was a data processing error that impacted the sample report and weekly cume estimates in HOUSTON PPM Weekly report for JULY 26th through AUGUST 1st, 2007. There was no precipitous decline in panelist cooperation in HOUSTON for that week.
The file used to process the weekly cume estimates (the unified weekly sample) was incompletely loaded from the data warehouse to the production system. It appears that exposure records for almost 200 panelists who were in-tab 6 of 7 days were not included in that file transfer. This is why the average (unified) weekly in-tab appears to be abnormally low.
Broadcasters are paying a premium for an improved and new currency and Arbitron needs to meet the targets that they have set.
No exposure records have been lost. The error affected the calculation of weekly cumes. We need to find out what caused the processing error. We need to correct the file and reprocess the PPM weekly data.
Please note: The average quarter hour estimates and the daily cume estimates are not likely to change. These estimates are based on the average daily in-tab sample which appear to be correctly reported on the Sample Composition We will provide more details shortly.
ARBITRON ADVISORY COUNCIL Chairman, and COX/GREENVILLE, SC Market Manager STEVE SINICROPI, on hearing this news of the data error, said, "All of my previous comments still stand. Radio is more comfortable with larger samples than smaller samples, and will only be satisfied when target samples are achieved."
What sparked this flurry of activity was that ALL ACCESS had seen some weekly numbers from the HOUSTON PPM that showed intab rates from AUGUST Week 1 were off dramatically, as much as 33%. There are 2,078 installs in HOUSTON, and in AUGUST Week 1, there were only 683 intab for persons 6+, and for persons 12+ there were 620 intab. By comparison in JULY Week 4, there were 910 intab for persons 6+, and for persons 12+ there were 811 intab.
On FEBRUARY Week 1, the highest persons 6+ sample was 1062, and 12+ 952 intab, while only three other weeks have topped over 1000 intab 6+ for the other survey weeks up through AUGUST Week 1. No word on when Week 2 numbers will be available.
According to ARBITRON, those numbers were released by the company, in error.
SINICROPI added, "ARBITRON set intab sample targets and they need to hit those targets. Broadcasters are paying a premium for an improved and new currency and ARBITRON needs to meet the targets that they have set. Their sample targets should be met overall and their demo targets as well, as they are important to broadcasters and our clients.
"Broadcasters are clearly unhappy that intab sample targets are missed and we have a reasonable expectation to meet the targets that they have set. ARBITRON needs to do everything it needs to do to hit those targets and explain to radio broadcasters what they plan to do to hit targets, and what special treatments are being uses to hit the targets, when these special treatment programs will be in effect, and what they plan to do if these treatments don't work."
SINICROPI continued, "ARBITRON needs to be prepared to be accountable if they don't meet these targets. Broadcasters are held accountable when we run schedules and it's reasonable that ARBITRON should be accountable for reaching their targets which have been promoted to subscribers.
"The audio conference call with subscribers last week was a good initial step in transparency and created a forum to allow subscribers to ask questions and voice concerns, and now it's up to ARBITRON to answer those calls, questions, and concerns and to demonstrate some improvement next month."
MOCARSKY commented to ALL ACCESS, "ARBITRON agrees wholeheartedly with STEVE SYNICROPI's statements It is up to us to hit the targets that we've set and we're focused on getting to that point!"
Radio Adds Comments About The PPM Snafu
COX RADIO President BOB NEIL commented to ALL ACCESS: "On top of the continuing sample issues, it's more than scary that ARBITRON let something like this get through their quality control less than a week after they basically told broadcasters that all was well with PPM and to just trust them to work out the sampling issues.
"If we can't trust them to do the same double checking we do on the simplest call out reports, how can we trust them to handle complex issues? If any broadcaster goes to sleep tonight after their explanation today thinking that all is well with the PPM, it means they were dipping a little too deep in the AMBIEN bottle."
Consultant RANDY KABRICH told ALL ACCESS, "Less than one week ago on their subscriber conference call, in response to a question on panel management, PIERRE (BOUVARD) told me to 'handle programming and let them (ARBITRON) deal with panel management'.
"48 hours later, ARBITRON told the NABOB 'PPM ratings are not flawed' and said they 'remain confident in the validity' of the data.
"Less than 1 business day later, ARBITRON put out flawed PPM data with no validity -- passing through all their quality controls without raising a single red flag."
KABRICH concluded, "If I had followed PIERRE's advice, we would have never learned of this error, as ARBITRON was still denying it existed as late as this morning to the press.
"Clearly, their Quality Control is not working nor is their panel management -- and ARBITRON rolls out more live markets in 30 days. ARBITRON is clearly over their heads in this even after 7 years of live tests. We may be told 'not to look behind the curtain' but this should be a wake up call to all broadcasters."