Arbitron: Urban PPM Numbers Way Up
March 28, 2008 at 11:11 AM (PT)
ARBITRON's FEBRUARY PPM conference call, while illustrating the incremental improvements the ratings firm is making in meeting its benchmarks, was largely spent on showcasing the efforts it has made to rebut any contention that the PPM is automatically bad for Urban stations.
They certainly did that effectively, trotting out RADIO ONE ratings for KBXX (THE BOXX) and KMJQ (MAGIC)/HOUSTON that showed dramatic improvements -- so dramatic, in fact, that it prompted questions whether they have gone too far in the other direction.
Quite simply, more meters do not mean more listeners, and when sample sizes go up, listening does not necessarily go up
ARBITRON President Sales & Marketing PIERRE BOUVARD and SVP/PPM Marketing JAY GUYTHER took great pains to credit RADIO ONE in HOUSTON and EMMIS in NEW YORK for coming up with ways to improve their numbers, be it through programming, promotion or marketing. Even so, HOUSTON's Black DDI in HOUSTON was 120, head and shoulders above everyone else. What's more, the youth-skewed KBXX finished tied or first in 25-54 in FEBRUARY.
Coincidence ... Not Correlation
ARBITRON officials discounted any correlation between the extra meters given to Black listeners and the improved numbers. BOUVARD cited data from PHILADELPHIA that showed no significant increase in ratings vs. DDI, while GUYTHER noted that may be partially attributed to "mechanical sample balancing," there is no "straight line" correlation.
After the presentation, ARBITRON SVP/Press And Investor Relations THOM MOCARSKY brought up JULY data where "in-tab hit a low point of 105, [but] Black 25-54 PURs peaked at 51,800. You see a lower PUR figure -- 49,900 in JAN. 2008, when the Black 25-54 sample is at its highest -- 140. Quite simply, more meters do not mean more listeners and when sample sizes go up, listening does not necessarily go up ... This is an isolated example, but it does show that audience and sample size don't move in the same direction."
PPM Like A Fine Wine: Better When Older
In regards to The BOXX's terrific 25-54 numbers, they pointed out that all stations are enjoying increased older listenership with the PPM, and not just the BOXX, and that with PPM, the ratings between the #1 and #15-rated stations was described as a "hair-follicle difference."
After the conference call, BOUVARD elaborated further: "Employed persons spend a lot of time with radio, even younger stations and they make younger stations profile get older," he told ALL ACCESS. "I think we're also looking at an artifact of what RAB CEO JEFF HALEY calls 'perception-based measurement' (diary) versus 'behavior-based measurement' (PPM). If I was a 35-54 parent driving my kids all over the place, soccer practice, etc,, they all want 'their station on' ... 'Dad, put THE BOXX on' ... When I get home to fill our my diary, do I recall all the time I spent in the car with the kids listening to 'their' stations? Maybe. But in a PPM world, all of that behavior gets picked up."
Elsewhere, ARBITRON presented data that indicated they are meeting almost all of their benchmarks. 25-34 continues to be the biggest thorn in their sides, but that the implementation of new incentives and other means should start to make its presence felt in the data in mid-MARCH, with steady improvements thereafter.
Read the entire ARBITRON PPM presentation by clicking here.