Spanish Radio Group, Arbitron Debate PPM Progress
August 27, 2008 at 11:56 AM (PT)
THE SPANISH RADIO ASSOCIATION (SRA) has fired off a salvo rebutting ARBITRON's claims of considerable progress with the PPM and Hispanic listeners. The group took point-by-point issue to the achievements listed by the ratings firm in HISPANICAD.COM on AUGUST 19th, 2008. While ARBITRON refused to engage in a tit-for-tat response, the ratings company did release a statement where it stood its ground on its efforts to generate an appropriate Hispanic sample.
"ARBITRON’s public response did not address our concerns or our research questions," the SRA communique stated. "Because we recognize the dynamics of radio where the only constant is change we strongly support electronic measurement. However, one of our primary concerns is the implementation of this system by Arbitron, primarily related to how Hispanics are recruited and represented, and how the PPM panel is maintained. At this time ARBITRON:
· Is not taking into account the diversity of the Hispanic population.
· Has not shared information on recruitment to ensure that the diversity of the Hispanic community is reflected.
· Is knowingly under-sampling the "cell phone only homes," which impacts Hispanic representation disproportionately.
· Is using the same model across markets and not looking at the diversity and demographics of each in recruitment and measurement models."
Pointing out the discrepancy between the MRC-accredited HOUSTON market and the non-accredited markets, the SRA notes that "It appears that in trying to rush out PPM, ARBITRON is sacrificing the accuracy of the data."
Point / Counterpoint
The Spanish radio group then went after ARBITROIN's claims on HispanicAd.com point by point. Here's a sampling of their rebuttal:
ARBITRON: Today, the Hispanic PPM sample has also improved to a point where, for the past several months in New York, it has consistently out-performed the diary on nearly every measure."
SRA: This is a very broad statement that needs further clarification. Does that include response rates? We expect the PPM measurement service ultimately to be better than the diary measurement service.
ARBITRON: In the wave of markets rolling out now, PPM has the largest local market electronic media ratings panel ever maintained. The Hispanic sample size is more than twice the size of the current NIELSEN LPM Hispanic panels.
SRA: This is comparing apples-to-oranges. NIELSEN meter counts are based on households, not the number of persons or TV’s within a household. There are more local radio stations in a market than local TV stations, therefore it requires a larger sample. Additionally, a fair comparison with NIELSEN would be to look at the same level of detail about the sample they provide. This was one of the SRA’s first requests from ARBITRON and they have set no timetable for delivering that.
ARBITRON: The Spanish Dominant Hispanic PPM sample across all 10 deployed markets including NEW YORK and L.A. is over-representative of the Hispanic population and performs higher than the diary. The average PPM proportionality in JUNE 2008 was 119% where 100 is the goal. The diary method achieved 101% in the last survey available survey for all of these markets
SRA: We have difficulty analyzing and interpreting ARBITRON’s response because their numbers did not take into account the reissue of SAN FRANCISCO and SAN JOSE PPM data due to implementation of "outdated" language usage populations that were used to process the JULY 2008 data. According to ARBITRON, this mistake affected ethnic weighting in these two markets. This is not the first time inaccurate data was loaded for PPM, thus resulting in a reissue. These events do not instill confidence in the PPM system within the ethnic broadcasting or advertising community.
ARBITRON: Hispanic Panelists agree to participate in our PPM panels in higher percentages than non-black, non-Hispanics. We cannot say the same thing about the diary service.
SRA: Agree and participate are two different things. ARBITRON is assuming their Hispanic sample is 100% representative of each market’s Hispanic community. Our research has shown it is not (in terms of proportionality). After numerous requests, we are still awaiting specific information detailing Arbitron’s Hispanic recruitment procedures in the PPM service.
ARBITRON: Spanish Dominant PPM panelists participate in higher percentages each day than any other panelists. We cannot say the same thing about the diary service.”
SRA: ARBITRON is assuming their Hispanic sample is 100% representative of each market’s Hispanic population. Our research has shown it is not (i.e. proportionality). We have concerns with how Hispanics are recruited for PPM.
ARBITRON: Hispanic 18-34 PPM panelist counts in JUNE are at or above target in 8 out of 9 of our panels. Six are over 100%, two are over 97% and only NASSAU-SUFFOLK is below target, but climbing.
SRA: ARBITRON sets its target at 75% of the total installs. In other words, 25% of each market’s meters can fail to report usable data, but that is the threshold ARBITRON has set for 100% in each market. Our concern is that ARBITRON is using a low self-imposed target as their benchmark. This is another example where two separate methodologies are inappropriate for comparison.
ARBITRON: Despite the facts noted above, a concern has been raised that PPM "must be fixed" and "be made right." Those who have not had an opportunity to see the facts but have seen the headlines in trade magazines might assume there is a bias against Hispanics in the ratings. The reality is that in PPM Hispanics have the highest listening levels of any ethnic group.
SRA: We do not disagree that Hispanics listen longer. We disagree with the way Hispanics are recruited. Hispanics cannot be simply classified by language. We have been asking Arbitron for many of their "acts" ... and, we are still waiting.
ARBITRON: Anyone who needs to understand why differences in radio listening exist between diary and PPM need only come to ARBITRON headquarters to view how the American public records their listening in the diaries. The diary gets the job done well, but there is better way to deliver more granular and timely results with accountability that advertisers demand.
SRA: Our issues are not with the principals of electronic measurement but with specific areas of implementation by ARBITRON as it sees to introduce the PPM.
Arbitron Restates Its Case
In response, ARBITRON released the following statement :
ARBITRON has great respect and appreciation for the critical and unique role that and Spanish-language radio plays as a voice for the diverse communities across the country. For those reasons, we have had a long-term commitment to working with Spanish-language broadcasters in a collaborative and supportive manner.
ARBITRON’s role as an independent research company is to provide stations and advertisers with information that is based on the actual behavior of radio audiences. That is what PPM delivers today.
We are confident that a fair understanding of the PPM system will demonstrate that it produces objective, unbiased audience estimates. The PPM is a more reliable survey instrument than the paper-and-pencil diary, which relies heavily on memory and recall. A paper-and-pencil ratings method often allows survey participants to overstate, intentionally or unintentionally, the time they spend with individual radio stations.
Our PPM samples are designed to effectively represent the diversity of the markets we measure in terms of age, sex, race, ethnicity and language preference. Overall, Hispanics and African-Americans have the highest listening levels in the PPM system. Broadcasters that serve ethnic audiences and who have embraced PPM are succeeding with the timely and detailed data that only PPM can deliver.