Another Shot At PPM, This Time From AHAA
September 12, 2008 at 9:03 AM (PT)
THE SPANISH RADIO ASSOCIATION came away from the NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL meeting YESTERDAY (NET NEWS 9/11), still adamant in its belief that ARBITRON's PORTABLE PEOPLE METER (PPM) is inherently detrimental to Hispanic radio. Now, THE ASSOCIATION OF HISPANIC ADVERTISING AGENCIES, a national organization of firms that specialize in marketing to the nation's 46 million Hispanic consumers, has weighed in on the battle between minority broadcasters and ARBITRON over the rollout of PPM in NEW YORK CITY this OCTOBER. The AHAA released this scathing letter:
YESTERDAY, ARBITRON stood in front of the NY CITY Council and made both inaccurate and contradictory statements.
AHAA would like to reiterate that there is NO issue with the PPM INSTRUMENT. The problem is the METHODOLOGY: the accurate representation of the Hispanic radio listening audience.
ARBITRON continues to defend its position by simply stating that they are using the "decades- old methodology" that was applied to the diary instrument. This is the problem. As any good researcher knows, the approach to data collection must be constantly reevaluated to meet the needs of a changing marketplace.
What is even more concerning are the conflicting comments made later in ARBITRON’s testimony stating that this methodology has been improved over the years. Which one is it? Is ARBITRON using decades-old methodology that they are standing by? Or, has it indeed been improved over the years? If so; how? Based on the assessment of the methodology by broadcasters, agencies and other organizations, there remain significant gaps in the accurate representation of the ethnic communities.
In addition, ARBITRON shared samples of diaries with council members to demonstrate the inaccuracies among ethnic population segments in completion of the diaries. If these diaries are the typical responses that ARBITRON has received, what if anything has Arbitron done to better educate respondents? Why did they continue to utilize diaries that they felt were overstating listenership?
Individual stakeholders within the Hispanic advertising industry have identified issues with the methodology; specifically the sampling size and representation for many years: the same issues that are shared by a much wider group of organizations. It is with the introduction of PPM, a more precise measurement tool, that the discrepancies have been exacerbated. ARBITRON’s statement that "broadcasters of all formats including urban and Hispanic who have embraced PPM have improved their audiences and their standing in the marketplace," is completely false. As reported in CRAINS NEW YORK BUSINESS, PPM ratings for AUGUST, which came out WEDNESDAY revealed that Urban station WRKS, which was #1 among persons 25 to 54 years old in the SPRING 2008 survey -- which used diaries -- was ranked fifth in the PPMs. Urban heritage station WBLS fell from #2 in the SPRING to #11, and Spanish language WSKQ, which was tied for #2 in the SPRING, came in at #6 in the PPMs.
We urge ARBITRON to LISTEN AND ACT rather than try to defend current and outdated practices. The Hispanic advertising and broadcast industry is a community that is willing, ready, and able to work with ARBITRON to rectify this damaging initiative. Our time is much better spent working together to solve the problems rather than continuing to restate our positions with the same apathetic response. Our community will step up to the plate to help resolve the issues but our efforts to do so have been met with resistance to change and an unwillingness to invest in changes that must be made to improve the sampling methodology.
ARBITRON states that it is their responsibility to make the transition to PPM with as little disruption as "practicable." The disruption is being caused by ARBITRON’s lack of understanding regarding the gravity of the issue and problems our industry, and in the end, their business, is facing. If a petition to the FCC and a subpoena by the NY CITY Council isn’t disruption, we’d like to know what is. ARBITRON claims that radio is a voice for the communities in NY CITY but they fail to realize that is more than a voice; it is a vehicle for communication and vital part of the Latino culture.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It is our hope that this will be the catalyst to change the pattern.
ARBITRON SVP/Investor And Press Relations THOM MOCARSKY told ALL ACCESS, "ARBITRON was not talking about diary vs. PPM differences when we said 'broadcasters of all formats including Urban and Hispanic who have embraced PPM have improved their audiences and their standing in the marketplace.' We were speaking of initial PPM ratings vs. more current PPM ratings. RADIO ONE in HOUSTON, KLOL/HOUSTON and EMMIS/NEW YORK have been featured in trade press articles, talking about how they have used PPM to improve their audiences. "
MOCARSKY also mentioned the upcoming "PPM On A Roll: Lessons Learned By Urban Stations," set for THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17th at the NAB CONVENTION in AUSTIN as a source of information on this subject.
Should Hispanic Broadcasters Accept The PPM World Is Different From The Diary World?
MOCARSKY pointed to HOUSTON, where RADIO ONE RVP DOUG ABERNETHY explained during a recent ARBITRON monthly client call how the stations got back to the top after dropping significantly in their target demos in early PPM ratings.
"If you look at where we were in a diary world," ABERNETHY said, "we were # 1 or 2, or #2 or 3 consistently, every book, so the diary method was working just fine for me." When Urban AC KMJQ (MAGIC 102.1) dropped out of the top 10 25-54 and Top 40/Rhythmic KBXX dropped nearly out of the top 10 18-34, he said, "that turned into a phase of anger. The next phase we went through was, 'OK, what are we going to do?'"
ABERNETHY then went on to explain they encouraged retailers, sports venues and others to play RADIO ONE stations, "We just looked at the things that we're doing, and what made us successful in a diary world is not going to make you successful in a PPM world. We looked at everything at the HOUSTON stations, including stopset placement, contesting and breaks. Station PDs are now doing weekly aircheck sessions, because in a diary world, you can get away with having a bad break, or a bad shift, or a bad week -- and in recall, people will forgive you, but they're not so forgiving when there's a bad break in a PPM world."
Both MAGIC and THE BOX, he added, "sound completely different from what they did in a diary world, and are now back to the #1 and #2 positions in the market."