Arbitron Addresses Sample Initiatives; Randy Kabrich Responds And Finds In-Tab/Ratings Correlation
April 7, 2008 at 2:06 PM (PT)
ARBITRON released a statement TODAY (4/7) regarding the status of their 25-34 sample initiative and the impact that the program is having on the PPM panel in PHILADELPHIA. ARBITRON wrote that the PHILADELPHIA panel had been running substantially over the target of 1,530 panelists among persons 6+, pointing out that in FEBRUARY, they had an average daily in-tab sample of 1,763 panelists -- 15% greater than the target.
Given the desire to increase the 25-34 sample as quickly as possible, and given the large cushion in P6+ sample that they had in PHILADELPHIA, ARBITRON decided to implement an accelerated matching and replacement process as soon as the enhanced sample control software came online.
In the first two weeks of March, we intentionally reduced the Person 6+ oversample in Philadelphia
Wrote ARBITRON, "In the first two weeks of MARCH, we intentionally reduced the Person 6+ oversample in PHILADELPHIA in order to open up sampling points needed for households with 25-34 year olds. The reduction of the oversample at the P6+ level is having an impact on the average daily sample sizes (DDI) for many demographics including (in the short term) Persons 18-24."
Here’s what ARBITRON claims you will see with TODAY's release of MARCH 08 Week 2:
* The Persons 6+ DDI is at 102, down from 110 the week before. (MARCH Week 1 vs. Week 2)
* 18-24 DDIs have dropped in both the Male and Female demographic cells. Men 18-24 went from a 93 to an 80 DDI. Women 18-24 went from an 81 to a 77 DDI. (MARCH Week 1 vs. Week 2).
* 25-34 has improved markedly MARCH week one vs. week two: Men 25-34, 73 to 83 DDI; Women 25-34, 69 to 80 DDI.
* 18-34 DDIs are flat, but now they are much more balanced between the 18-24 and 25-34 demographics.
"As we use our newly enhanced sampling control system to bring into the panel new households with 18-24 year olds, with 25-34 year-olds and with both 18-24 and 25-34 year-olds, we expect to see continued improvement in the 18-34 sample," continued ARBITRON. "We also expect there will be a better balance between 18-24 year-olds and 25-34 year-olds. Since the 25-34 initiatives are being implemented panel wide, you will see similar patterns among the Black sample."
Click here to see a worksheet that covers the highlights of the changes to the sample to date.
Consultant Randy Kabrich Takes Issue With Some Of The Data...
ARBITRON's new 25-34 initiative has erased 28 weeks (seven months) of PPM in-tab growth in the PHILADELPHIA market, said KABRICH. "ARBITRON says this reduction in in-tab sample is 'intentional.' We are perplexed by this -- weren’t those seven months of gains to the sample intentional as well?"
He continues: "Now in the second week of ARBITRON's new 25-34 initiative, where ARBITRON is systematically replacing non-25-34 households with 25-34 households, their 25-34 in-tab shows a nice improvement, but that appears to come at the sacrifice of every other demographic. Overall in-tab has dropped to the lowest level since last SEPTEMBER in the quarter ARBITRON claims to be their 'high-water mark,' before we go downhill through the SUMMER. Many demos have experienced drastic losses. Not only are all demos' in-tabs down (except 25-34), but some are actually lower now than they were in the first week of PPM, more than a year ago."
Some of the specifics KABRICH points out include:
* Total Daily 6+ in-tab is 1,561 in MARCH Week 2. This is the lowest in-tab since the second week of SEPTEMBER 2007.
* We can get a fast before-and-after look by comparing the current week to the last week in FEBRUARY (which was their final week before this new 25-34 initiative):
* 25-34 in-tab is up by 30 in-tab vs. the last week in FEBRUARY, a 23% gain
* However, 18-24 is down by 24 in-tab, a 16% loss
* 35-44 is down by 33 in-tab, a 13% loss vs. the final week before the initiative.
"Even more disturbing is that the important 35-44 in-tab is at an all-time low," KABRICH claimed. "ARBITRON currently has fewer 35-44 in-tab than they did at the beginning of PPM. In FEBRUARY of 2007, they had 238 Adults 35-44 daily in-tab. TODAY, in MARCH 2008, that has actually dropped to 220. Any progress ARBITRON has made in growing the PPM sample in this very important 35-44 demographic (important to Rockers, Country, News/Talk, Smooth Jazz, Urban AC, etc.), has been erased."
"Bottom line," KABRICH concluded, "ARBITRON has paid a very big price for a gain of a mere 30 more 25-34s in the sample; they've erased seven months of solid sample growth and hundreds of in-tab, to gain only 30 in-tab in one cell. We've been calling for gains in this cell for a long time and were told their planned initiative would not hurt 18-24. Well, it not only hurt 18-24, it hurt every other age cell and has erased 100% of their progress in the critical 35-44 demo. ARBITRON claims they 'intentionally' reduced the sample size in order to 'make room' for more 25-34 households. It’s hard to believe they would 'intentionally' erase seven months of growth to the sample, plus entirely delete growth in the 35-44 age cell, ending with fewer in-tab than they started with."
...Then Finds In-Tab/Ratings Correlation In Houston
"As you know, ARBITRON continues to stonewall with their claim that there is 'no relationship between in-tab and ratings' -- specifically, there is no relationship between their growth in Black in-tab in HOUSTON and the steady growth of shares to KBXX and KMJQ," KABRICH wrote. "Take a look at the linked graph, which compares Black in-tab to the growth in AQH for KBXX and KJMQ (putting the two different scales on the same graph). The lines are startlingly similar and the pattern is striking."