Arbitron Sets PPM 'Benchmarks' ... 'Not Guarantees'
February 4, 2008 at 12:12 PM (PT)
As a follow-up to FRIDAY's monthly ARBITRON PPM conference call (NET NEWS 2/1), ARBITRON has released documentation stating that THE RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL and other customer groups have asked ARBITRON to establish benchmarks for PPM sample quality and to share its performance relative to those benchmarks. The purpose of these benchmarks is to enhance confidence in PPM as a currency.
ARBITRON quickly points out that rather than serving as guarantees, "The benchmarks establish the starting point for where ARBITRON’s PPM samples are performing TODAY and the levels they will work toward in 2008 via a program of continued improvement."
Clients can expect that we will strive to meet or exceed these benchmarks. Where this is not happening ... clients can expect that we will implement action plans to address it, and report our action and progress.
Four Benchmarks Set
There are four sample quality benchmarks that ARBITRON currently expects to pursue with its PPM services:
*Total sample size benchmark: Achieve 90%+ (DDI) of total panel sample objective and guarantee greater than 80% among persons 18-54.
* 18-34 sample size benchmark: 70 Designated Delivery Index (DDI) in year one for panels started in 2007/2008 and 80 DDI in year two and beyond. These benchmarks will be applied to the following demos:
* Persons 18-34
* Men 18-34
* Women 18-34
* Black Persons 18-34 (if Black population is greater than 10% of the market)
* Hispanic Persons 18-34 (if Hispanic population is greater than 10% of the market)
* Other Persons 18-34 (if Black or Hispanic population is greater than 10% of the market)
* Daily in-tab rate benchmark: Daily in-tab rate is the percentage of the installed panel that provides more than eight hours of motion each day. The benchmark is 75%+ for the total panel. For 18-34 target demos the benchmark is 80% of the overall in-tab rate (.8 X 75% = 60%) for first two years of a panel. We have initiatives in place to improve average daily in-tab rates among persons 18-34 that may enable us to raise this benchmark in subsequent years.
* Longitudinal response rate or Sample Performance Indicator: We will work with THE MEDIA RATING COUNCIL (MRC) on establishing benchmarks.
A Promise To Be More Transparent
The ARBITRON statement said: "Clients can expect that we will strive to meet or exceed these benchmarks. Where this is not happening and seasonal variation does not explain the gap; clients can expect that we will implement action plans to address it, and report our action and progress to them. We will start tracking our performance relative to these benchmarks starting with the Holiday 2007 survey."
DuCoty Sees Progress
ARBITRON RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL Chairman and NRG MEDIA COO CHUCK DUCOTY commented, "Everybody wants 100%, but right now this is a positive step." He explained the benchmarks were not so low as to be easily made, but not unreasonably high either, adding "if these benchmarks are met, I think we'd all be happy with the progress being made." DUCOTY said the data would be reviewed monthly, and discussed at the regularly scheduled PPM meetings.
Randy Kabrich Asks Why It's Taking So Long To Fix
Consultant RANDY KABRICH added this perspective, "While statements like 'Clients can expect that we will strive to meet or exceed these benchmarks. Where this is not happening, clients can expect that we will implement action plans to address it, and report our action and progress.' sound and look great in the trades, it fails on several issues. First, PPM has been in real world tests for 7 years now. These problems have clearly been known to ARBITRON for that period of time, if not longer. Why were these issues not identified and fixed before roll out? How long does action take? 7 years?"
He continued, "In the case of NASSAU-SUFFOLK, ARBITRON missed at 6 of the 18-34 benchmarks. Furthermore, those who asked the right questions knew they were missing them as early as SEPTEMBER. It's over 90 days later and we have seen no improvement in the NASSAU-SUFFOLK sample. How long should we expect action to take? STEVE [MORRIS, Pres./CEO], PIERRE [BOUVARD, Pres./Sales & Marketing] and OWEN [CHARLEBOIS, [Pres./Operations/Tech/Research] promised BEASLEY Pres. BRUCE BEASLEY in MAY of 2007 that the 18-34 problem would be fixed in SEPTEMBER of 2007. Though the 18-24 is better (driven primarily by Males 18-24), the problem is not fixed even as of today, and my calendar says it's FEBRUARY of 2008.
"Action is a nice word in print, but results to prove its working is an entirely different thing. Radio cannot afford to wait a year on fixes to a product that was tested for 7 years and sold to the Industry at a premium as an improved working product."