PPM Update: 18-24 Drop "Temporary"... But What About Cume?
April 25, 2008 at 3:54 PM (PT)
While ARBITRON took the lion's share of its monthly PPM conference call to illustrate the gains it has made in both DDI and in-tab, the main focus of concern for those in attendance was the drop in 18-24s ostensibly to accommodate the needed infusion of more 25-34 respondents. ARBITRON executives tried to mollify their concerns by calling it a temporary dip and that new, as-yet-unannounced methodology will soon be put into place so that this wouldn't happen again.
First, the good news: ARBITRON trumpeted figures that show the PPM meeting every 6+ and 18-54 DDI benchmark. In fact, they almost made almost every 70% benchmark in the most-difficult 18-34 demos, with the exception of 18-34 Hispanics in NASSAU and 18-34 women in PHILADELPHIA, the latter of which had a higher 80 benchmark. Even then, the numbers were close to the minimum requirement.
The cume loss across the board is 'because people don't like radio anymore' -- give me a break. The losses over the last year are too dramatic -- and the sample is not correct. This is not right.
In-tab benchmarks (75% for all, 60% for 18-34 in the first two tears of currency) were also met, with the exception of black 18-34 in PHILADELPHIA, L.A. and CHICAGO -- and all three markets were less than 4% off. ARBITRON executives cited continued improvement in even the exceptions as proof that their incentive measures for exacting a more representative response are working.
The fly in the ointment, at least during this call, was the dramatic dip in 18-24s (from 92 in FEB. to 80 in MARCH), which ARBITRON described as a one-time repercussion from their effort to goose the 25-34 rate, which rose 68-80. SVP/Chief Research Officer BOB PATCHEN noted that in MARCH, they implemented the same "matching procedures" for 25-34s as they previously did to 18-24s, which "unfortunately had the effect of forcing us remove a few households that had 18-24s but no 25-34s." This "random assignment process" created "some cases where the 25-34 basically trumped 18-24 status ... We see this as a temporary dip; as we go forward we'll continue to pick up both 25-34s and 18-24s, and we'll see both trends moving in an upward direction."
If you're confused by that explanation, you're not alone. EMMIS RADIO Pres. RICK CUMMINGS and RADIO ADVISORY COUCIL Research Chair. JESS HANSON couldn't understand why one demo cell (18-24) had to be sacrificed for another (18-34). "Very rarely do 25-34 households also have 18-24s," PATCHEN explained. "If we were able to keep expanding the panel, it would've been no problem, but the reality is that there is a cap on the size of panel, and spaces that were occupied by 18-24 had to be handed it over to 25-34. However, going forward, we have a new form of sampling starting next month that will have the same positive effect on 25-34, yet avoids this kind of problem." This "re-stratification" process will be unveiled next month.
PATCHEN: 'People Don't Like Radio Anymore'
Consultant RANDY KABRICH brought up another bone of contention -- the sizable loss of cume that has dramatically impacted a variety of music stations. ARBITRON's PATCHEN basically attributed to listener attrition to our diversions. "When we looked at levels of MARCH '07 to MARCH '08 in PHILADELPHIA and HOUSTON, and look at the cume and TSL, you can see drop in TSL of around 5-10% in younger demos, mostly 18-24, which is the cause of it," he said.
That certainly didn't sit well with BEASLEY Top 40/Rhythmic WRDW (WIRED 96.5)/PHILADELPHIA VP/GM LYNN BRUDER, who came away from today's PPM conference call less than pleased, telling ALL ACCESS, "The cume loss across the board is 'because people don't like radio anymore' -- give me a break. The losses over the last year are too dramatic -- and the sample is not correct. This is not right."
WRDW PD LEO BALDWIN added, "PPM is about to go into NEW YORK and L.A.and all these other major markets soon, and they have still not fixed PHILLY and HOUSTON! I am asking ARBITRON: 'How do plan to go forward when you haven't got these markets fixed?
"For BOB PATCHEN to address the 18-34 cume loss by saying 'Old people aren't listening to your station anymore' is wrong. Then he turns around says 'people don't like radio anymore' -- and this is coming from the people we are paying millions of dollars to monitor radio listening? That's a shaky explanation."
For a look at some numbers to illustrate BRUDER and BALDWIN's concerns, click on these links:
Potential For Pre-Currencies
In another topic, ARBITRON SVP/Marketing BILL ROSE responded to a question about releasing pre-currencies of other markets by noting that ARBITRON is "looking at that idea" of release early data for L.A., CHICAGO and other markets, but only if and when ARBITRON resumes its rollout. Ideally, that would happen sometime in JUNE.
RADIOCRUNCH President ANTHONY ACAMPORA commented on the promise of pre-currency data, and told ALL ACCESS, "My hope is that ARBITRON begins releasing the pre-currency data in LOS ANGELES, RIVERSIDE and CHICAGO as soon as possible. The more markets PPM is deployed into, the better we can help troubleshoot. Just like any form of technology, it takes time to get everything correct. However, full disclosure is also important. LOS ANGELES and RIVERSIDE will have their own unique challenges due to terrain and extremely spread out metros.
"I really want to see the PPM rollout continue as scheduled -- and the best way to do that is to share the data for the next batch of markets sooner rather than later. The more markets we have to research will help us fine-tune the product quicker."