DuCoty: Diary Improvements In A Competitive Atmosphere
July 28, 2008 at 5:04 AM (PT)
One week after ARBITRON announced that it would increase PPM sample sizes and benchmarks--and make a concerted effort to improve the efficiency of the diary--ARBITRON RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL Chairman CHUCK DUCOTY reflected on the ARBITRON's effort to improve the diary amidst the growing competition from CUMULUS' RFP, as well as EASTLAN and BIRCH.
DUCOTY -- who as COO of NRG MEDIA, relies on the diary -- wouldn't say that the competition has spurred. "That's a hard question for me to answer," he said. "A lot of things came out of the JACKSON HOLE ADVISORY COUNCIL meeting, but I can say that many of the ARBITRON's suggested improvements in the diary had been in the works for a while. Many of the improvements have been in the works for eight months, well before CUMULUS offered its RFP, including its cell phone-only efforts.
Like PPM, DUCOTY emphasize the importance of including more cell-phone only households in the sample. He did acknowledge, however, that "it’s difficult and expensive to get CPO households into the sample, especially when compared to land line phones. For example, it's against the law to use auto-dialers for cell phones. Also, with land lines you pretty much know where the person is by the area code. Not so for people with cell phones, who can move somewhere else and still have that area code."
Ratings Rivals Come And Go
When asked if there is room for a couple of new ratings challengers, "I've been around for an awfully long time, and the research highway is littered with people who took a run at the ratings business, but are not in business anymore," he noted. "Maybe it's the right time for another one; I don't know. Competition is always healthy, and you have to give EASTLAN a leg up because they're out there and doing it."
However, DUCOTY added that ARBITRON is not about to give up its diary franchise any time soon. "I know there is a level of dissatisfaction out there in the diary markets," he said. "That's why all these new services are out there and why ARBITRON is intent on improving their product."
When asked just how much can you improve on the methodology of the diary, he concluded. "Improving the diary is a process. Any time you do polling or research, you immediately bring bias into the process as soon as you ask the first question. The bias is different depending upon the methodology and/or questions. It doesn't make one right or wrong, necessarily, just different. I'm not necessarily a person who thinks that proportionately is a be-all and end-all. But the diary is a perfectly acceptable instrument to measure radio. It's inherently different than PPM; each has their own biases. At the end of the day, when you add in all the pluses and minuses, the diary is certainly workable when it's used properly."