PPM Update: Good News, Bad News ... And Unanswered Q's
December 10, 2007 at 5:40 AM (PT)
ARBITRON held its monthly conference call to update the PPM's progress on FRIDAY (12/7). The call began with an update on PHILADELPHIA, HOUSTON and NEW YORK.
The Good News
SVP/Ratings Services JAY GUYTHER started things off with data showing that both HOUSTON and PHILADELPHIA were above their in-tab targets for NOVEMBER -- noting in HOUSTON, "It's the first time this year we've been above our target." But 18-34, he said, "is still the demographic that remains where we need to continue to put the most emphasis." In PHILADELPHIA , the demo is indexing at 65 -- 232 people vs. a target of 356.
We can't do it in PPM, we're not doing it in the diary service. No measurement service that I'm aware of is doing that consistently across all demographic groups.
GUYTHER said Arbitron is seeing "steady upward progress" among 18-24s since JANUARY, with the demo now indexing at 72. This came from a number of initiatives, he said, including "forcing out more aggressively underperforming households" and increasing the incentives for the age group. In NEW YORK, the total market -- including LONG ISLAND and MIDDLESEX-SOMERSET-UNION -- is 3% over goal, with an average daily in-tab of 4,002, compared to a target of 3,878. But 18-34s are at an average daily in-tab of 575 vs. a target of 919 -- an index of 63.
The Bad News
However, a source who looked at the LONG ISLAND Persons 18-34 weekly numbers, specifically the 4th week in NOVEMBER, which was the last weekly released for NASSAU-SUFFOLK thus far, commented to ALL ACCESS, "If anyone wonders how bad the 18-34 Sample is with the PPM in NASSAU-SUFFOLK, just look at who's #1 -- WCBS-FM -- moving up from #6. Anyone want to believe that DOO WOP, BEATLES and MOTOWN is the #1 music choice for 18-34s, beating the local Top 40 station? Interesting enough, WCBS-FM fell from #8 to #9 in NYC the same week as it went to #1 in this embedded market."
President/Operations, Technology And R&D OWEN CHARLEBOIS discussed ARBITRON's initiatives to reach its research-quality goals. The focus, he said, is on the total panel size and "more consistently delivering the in-tab samples that have been defined by the service, not only for 6-plus, but for 18-54, which was a commitment we made to the RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL earlier this week, in terms of a guarantee." CHARLEBOIS added that ARBITRON is focusing on improving its SAMPLE PERFORMANCE INDICATOR.
"HOUSTON's SPI is at 17.6%," said SVP/Chief Research Officer BOB PATCHEN, with PHILADELPHIA at 13-14% and NEW YORK at 11-12%. He credited HOUSTON's better numbers to in-person recruitment and better incentive programs -- "programs we've been previously told would not continue in HOUSTON or be used in other markets."
PATCHEN discussed the sample guarantee, saying, "The impact of this plan on PPM performance is designed to deliver consistent 18-54 sample sizes above 80% of our market targets."
CHARLEBOIS said, "Our target is to deliver 75% in-tab for all the panels, right across the board. A 75% daily in-tab rate is one of the drivers of our daily sample size."
The term "differential compliance" was explained by CHARLEBOIS, who said it's impossible to reach the compliance goal across all demos. "We can't do it in PPM," he said. "We're not doing it in the diary service. No measurement service that I'm aware of is doing that consistently across all demographic groups." ARBITRON's goal is to "narrow the variation," he said.
CHARLEBOIS said ARBITRON is committed to increasing compliance among 18-24s and 25-34s. But, realistically added, "Are we going to get them to 75%? Probably not. Do we need to? No. But we do believe that we need to improve from the high 50s, low 60s, and we're committed to doing that."
Why doesn't ARBITRON need to get 18-24 in-tab up to 75? CHARLEBOIS explained, "The reason that we don't need to get to 75 is that the data don't become unusable at 74. They don't become unusable at 73 or 66. There is no dividing line between unusable and usable data. What we try to do is get the highest possible in-tab rate in, to support the sample size, but also to deal with this potential non-response concern that customers have."
GUYTHER announced in reporting the NOVEMBER PPM results, ARBITRON changed its minimum reporting standard by doing away with the AQH requirement for a station. The requirement had been carried over from the diary minimum reporting standard, he said, but the lower TSL recorded by the PPM was causing stations to fall out of the listings. "PPM is more a cume-driven methodology," he said, "so we felt it more appropriate to just go with a cume criteria."
Asked about TOM O'SULLIVAN, ARBITRON's newly named "diary czar," BOUVARD said the appointment was in response to concerns expressed by the ARBITRON RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL, which wanted a "point person" for the diary enhancements ARBITRON has in the works, including "second chance" recruitment for households that don't return diaries. He said, "TOM is known to virtually every local market broadcaster, having worked here for more than 20 years." O'SULLIVAN will work with broadcasters to prioritize the various initiatives to improve the diary service, BOUVARD said.
The Unanswered Question
When ALL ACCESS posed a question regarding NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK OWNED BROADCASTERS (NABOB) Executive Dir./General Counsel JIM WINSTON's comments when he testified before Congress (NET NEWS 12/7), and in a surprise, unveiled that ARBITRON has applied for "re-accreditation" for the PPM methodology in HOUSTON, and that "additional factors have been uncovered," by the MRC that would jeopardize the HOUSTON accreditation, CHARLEBOIS responded, "we can't comment" on MRC matters.
When asked if WINSTON's comments were truthful, or if he felt inaccuracies needed correction -- we received no answer. CHARLEBOIS did say "the MRC is just one of many that we consult with as we work through the problems we discussed today."
A spokesperson for WINSTON said he stood by his testimony.
Asked if there is a "silver lining" to the delayed PPM roll-out in terms of the sheer number of things ARBITRON is dealing with, Pres./Sales & Marketing PIERRE BOUVARD said, "Well, no question there are a lot of disappointed customers. We just came out of our agency advisory meeting and what they're trying to do is convince advertisers to come into radio or stay in radio, and the delay doesn't help their efforts."
"If there is a silver lining, it's going to be getting ready for PPM and getting the sales staffs and the planners and the buyers trained."