PPM Hangs In Through The Holidays
February 1, 2008 at 12:05 PM (PT)
While WBEB/PHILADELPHIA and many other all-CHRISTMAS stations made out big-time during the holiday period, ARBITRON had its hands full trying to improve its PPM weaknesses. At its monthly PPM conference call, ARBITRON noted that the disruption inherent to the holiday season made it difficult, if not impossible, for it to make significant improvements in their in-tab response rates for its targeted 18-34 cell.
However, early JANUARY data and the introduction of greater incentive packages give the firm hope that its numbers in the targeted demo cells -- especially in the embedded markets -- will improve in the coming weeks and months.
Data presented by the ratings firm found continued improvement in HOUSTON, PHILADELPHIA and NEW YORK in the total DDI and in-tab, as well as the older demos. However, the improvements in the targeted 18-34 and 25-34 cells were not enough to raise it to the accepted 70% threshold.
SVP/Ratings Services JAY GUYTHER attributed part of the problem to the fact that the 18-34s are more difficult to reach during the holiday period. "We did see larger drop of in-tab rates in 18-34s, potentially because they have most different habits over the holiday period," he said. "Many [in that age demo] are off two full weeks compared to adults, who were off for the CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR's weekends. And if you look at the early JANUARY numbers, their numbers rebounded more."
The Incentives Kick In
On top of the early JANUARY numbers, ARBITRON's optimism is also fueled by the introduction of more incentives geared towards the lagging cells. Although they wouldn't go into specifics as to exactly what those incentives are, they did mention that they are experimenting with things such as "sweepstakes, drawings, special prizes and notices."
SVP/Chief Research Officer BOB PATCHEN added that the new incentives are the same in NEW YORK, its embedded markets and PHILDELPHIA, but HOUSTON's incentives are slightly different because PPM started "at a different point in time, with a different base line ... but they all will be focused on 18-24s."
PATCHEN also addressed the persistent problem with the NYC embedded markets. "We've always had more trouble with proportionality," he said. "In the early '80s, ethnic representation was a problem in the younger demos. [The embedded markets] tend to be smaller in size and less urban, which may have something to do with it. All these different things factor in simultaneously, so when we're looking at the younger demos, it's a far more complex problem. It's certainly doable, but it takes longer to get the performance we see in the main market. This year, our big fix with incentives is coming on right now, and our ability to increase the 18-24s and 25-34s will start moving the needle in all these markets -- especially in NASSAU."
Prepped For July Roll-Out
A residual byproduct of their efforts here is ensuring that the rollouts in other markets start as schedule din JULY. ARBITRON Pres./Sales & Marketing PIERRE BOUVARD noted that the company already built the panels for LOS ANGELES, SAN FRANCISCO, RIVERSIDE and CHICAGO by the end of last year. "We hit the overall sample targets everywhere except SAN FRANCISCO, which is almost there," he said. "We now have six months to top off the panel and focus on the age cells. We're in very good shape and where we need to be when we re-start in JULY. Plus, we start building ATLANTA, DALLAS, WASHINGTON, D.C. and DETROIT this and next month."