Arbitron To Increase Sample Size, Benchmarks
July 18, 2008 at 2:22 PM (PT)
In a conference call held earlier TODAY (7/18), ARBITRON RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL Chairman CHUCK DUCOTY noted that the ratings service has made a bevy of promises to improve both its PPM and diary data. Chief among them is a 10% increase in sample sizes by 2010. He also addressed concerns about MRC accreditation, noting that ARBITRON Pres./CEO STEVE MORRIS pledged that it is now the "#1 priority."
DUCOTY took great pains to also note that the sample size increase will be universal and impact "problem" demos such as 18-34. The ADVISORY COUNCIL also challenged ARBITRON to accomplish this task sooner than 2010; "They said they'll come back to us on that," DUCOTY said.
Benchmarks and guarantees are also being raised. The 18-54 guarantee of 18-54 will be raised from 80%-90%; the 12+ PPM sample benchmark will be raised from 90-100%, with 18-34 going from 70-75% at month five, and 80-85% at year 2 and beyond. When the COUNCIL asked for a 100% benchmark in 18-34 and 18-54, ARBITRON responded that the only way to do that is to oversample significantly, which would raise the price for such data.
ARBITRON also pledged to increase monitoring of the cell phone-only households (CTOs) from its currency 7.5%, but would not cite a specific number for that increase. It promised to have that number within 30 days.
Don't Forget The Dairies!
DUCOTY -- who as COO of NRG MEDIA, oversees stations that only have access to diaries -- also spent a considerable portion of the conference call on diary issues, which seems to have been neglected in the major-market spotlight on PPM issues. In his eyes, the sample size problem in "diary markets are way past point of being critical, particularly in 18-54," he said. "The percentage of that demo in the sample size has been getting smaller part in the last couple of years, and the CTO issue has exacerbated that."
ARBITRON has invested in several initiatives to improve that, the results of which have yet to be discerned. It promised to consider having 18-54 And 18-34 benchmarks like it has for the PPM. "We expect to see something from them on that in SEPTEMBER," DUCOTY said.
When asked by ALL ACCESS if ARBITRON's investigation on diary improvements would produce recommendations that would increase the cost of the ratings to subscribers, DUCOTY said no. "ARBITRON understands that particularly in small markets, this is a big expense for us to begin with. We made it clear to them, and I have received a positive response back, that this needs to be an expense-neutral fix on the radio side."