Charlie Ferguson: Still No Answer To SmartPlus Problems
May 22, 2008 at 11:56 AM (PT)
NORTHERN BROADCAST/TRAVERSE CITY, MI GM CHARLIE FERGUSON is frustrated with ARBITRON. He contacted ALL ACCESS to say he "still hasn't gotten any satisfaction from ARBITRON on the issue of SMARTPLUS allowing 'illegal calculations' -- their words in a service memo to agency clients. FERGUSON writes:
"It would appear to those of us in Condensed Markets that ARBITRON couldn't care less about MRC accreditation for PPM. This seems obvious, since ARBITRON's SMARTPLUS agency buying program still performs 'illegal calculations.' Those are ARBITRON's own words in a Service Advisory to agency clients using SMARTPLUS.
I'm sure the folks at MRC are way too busy with the PPM pimple to pay any attention to these problems that affect the little people. Arbitron has been stone-walling us for over two years while they diligently try to sweep this whole thing under the r
"This has been happening since FEBRUARY of 2006, when the rolling averages were built into the SMARTPLUS software. On APRIL 3rd, 2008 I sent an inquiry to GEORGE IVIE, MRC's CEO via the MRC staff e-mail address, asking if they were also in charge of accrediting ARBITRON's SMARTPLUS agency buying program. To date, there has been no response.
"Despite promises made by ARBITRON managers on a conference call on NOVEMBER 19, 2007 to fix the problem by MARCH of 2008, the SMARTPLUS program still allows these illegal calculations when buyers ask for a two-book average in Condensed Markets! The STRATA buying program goes 'clank' and won't allow the erroneous calculations, but ARBITRON's own SMARTPLUS program goes merrily on it's way, skewing the numbers (and the buys) dramatically.
"I'm sure the folks at MRC are way too busy with the PPM pimple to pay any attention to these problems that affect the little people. ARBITRON has been stone-walling us for over two years while they diligently try to sweep this whole thing under the rug. We have worked long and hard to bring the problem to ARBITRON's attention, documented the damages to our stations and asked them repeatedly to apply a simple 'fix' to their flawed program. "
In my personal opinion, management at ARBITRON is in CYA mode -- and MRC is a paper tiger."
ARBITRON has not yet responded to e-mail regarding this story, but consultant RANDY KABRICH did offer some insight: "While I feel the pain that CHARLIE FERGUSON is going through, it should be noted that according to the MRC website, SMARTPLUS is not accredited, as the MRC does not certify the software --only process to collect and tabulate that data. It does not Accredit each individual piece of software.
"SMARTPLUS is a program that uses the MRC Accredited Condensed Market Data. It's up to the software code writers to correctly implement the MRC-accredited data -- not the MRC itself."