SRA, NABOB Unhappy With Arb 'Enhancements'
March 4, 2009 at 12:49 PM (PT)
The SPANISH RADIO ASSOCIATION and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK OWNED BROADCASTERS expressed their disappointment and frustration with ARBITRON’s recent promises to upgrade its PPM sampling methodology (NET NEWS 3/2). The two organizations claim these promises will "not cure the problems that have caused PPM data to be skewed and unreliable."
In a press release, SRA and NABOB write, "PPM is now currency in 14 markets. While all currency markets have been audited, in all but two of those markets, ARBITRON’s PPM service has failed to receive accreditation from the MEDIA RATING COUNCIL. The state attorneys general of NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY and MARYLAND have taken legal action to hold ARBITRON accountable for the flaws in its PPM product. The actions by the MRC and the investigations by the state attorneys general prove that ARBITRON needs to take dramatic steps to fix its PPM methodology before it can deliver reliable and representative audience estimates."
Arbitronâ??s implication that we are satisfied with its latest promises is disingenuous and simply not true. It reflects what we have long feared, Arbitron will exploit its unregulated monopoly position to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants ...
Continuing, they write, "ARBITRON’s announcement that it intends to extend many of the methodological enhancements agreed to in the NEW YORK and NEW JERSEY settlements to all PPM markets is a good first step. However, SRA and NABOB have made clear in recent meetings with ARBITRON that the actions mandated by the state settlements are necessary but not sufficient if ARBITRON is truly committed to transforming PPM into a reliable audience measurement service."
According to SBS/NEW YORK VP/GM FRANK FLORES, "We’ve been working in earnest with ARBITRON to communicate what we view as the most critical shortcomings of its PPM sampling methodology. Therefore we found it odd and quite disconcerting that neither SRA nor NABOB was consulted prior to this latest move from ARBITRON. ARBITRON’s implication that we are satisfied with its latest promises is disingenuous and simply not true. It reflects what we have long feared, ARBITRON will exploit its unregulated monopoly position to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, regardless of the harm it inflicts on its customers."
When contacted by ALL ACCESS, an ARBITRON spokesperson said, "On MONDAY, we issued a letter to (NEW JERSEY) Senator MENENDEZ and filed an 8-K to that effect. We also issued a press release excerpting the key points of that letter to the Senator. NABOB and SRA have sent a press release out in response to that press release."
The SRA/NABOB press release went item by item, explaining their differences with ARBITRON. The SRA and NABOB claim ARBITRON’s promises fall short in four key areas:
Cell Phone Only Sampling
ARBITRON will increase cell-phone only sampling in all PPM markets to 15% by the end of 2010.
SRA/NABOB Response: Cell phone-only (CPO) users are disproportionately young and minority, and ARBITRON’s failure to sample them properly has resulted in an undercounting of these important demographic groups. While we acknowledge that ARBITRON’s CPO target is in line with its agreements with the NY, NJ and MD settlements, both the SRA and NABOB have recently cautioned ARBITRON that its proposed timeline lags behind the realities of the market. Even if ARBITRON meets the new target, CPO users will continue to be underrepresented.
Presently, 18% of American households have abandoned landline telephones, and the latest research predicts that percentage will rise dramatically by the end of 2010. Moreover, CPO use is significantly higher than 18% among adults 18-29 (over 30%) and within minority populations. ARBITRON’s stated goal of 15% CPO sampling by the end of 2010 does not even reflect the current market profile, and it will become even less representative over the next two years.
ARBITRON claims to the general public that its PPM estimates are based on a representative sample of radio users. SRA and NABOB continue to ask ARBITRON to sample CPO users commensurate with their share of the marketplace.
Address Based Sampling
ARBITRON is committing to the use of address-based sampling techniques for at least 15% of its sampling efforts by the end of 2010.
SRA/NABOB Response: ARBITRON only intends to use address-based sampling to reach CPO homes. All landline homes will continue to be approached utilizing a telephone sample frame based on random digit dialing and telephone recruitment. We have repeatedly explained to ARBITRON that telephone-based sampling results in skewed sampling of minority radio audiences. As reflected in current panels, some segments of minority communities are disproportionately likely to decline to participate in the PPM sample when contacted by telephone. Address-based in-person recruiting would allow ARBITRON to better sample these undercounted communities.
In-tab Compliance Rates
ARBITRON is applying its average-daily in-tab benchmark of 75% of installed sample to all PPM markets and is currently implementing methods to minimize differential compliance.
SRA/NABOB Response: ARBITRON’s promise in this area has two key deficiencies. First, an average daily in-tab benchmark of 75% for the overall sample population is insufficient. It represents only the minimum legally required under the MARYLAND settlement. Second, it does not address the key issues for SRA and NABOB which is the differential compliance rates among young and ethnic PPM panelists. ARBITRON's announced commitment would not comply with the NEW YORK settlement, which required a 75% compliance rate for all demographic groups within the sample (ages 6+, 18-34; 35-54, etc.). ARBITRON must take steps to bring the compliance rates among young and ethnic PPM panelists in line with those of its sample overall, and it must increase the compliance rate of the overall sample as well.
Response Rates (SPI)
ARBITRON has committed to improving its Sample Performance Indicator in all PPM markets and has told the MEDIA RATING COUNCIL that it hopes to achieve a 21% SPI average across all PPM markets by the end of 2010.
SRA/NABOB Response: ARBITRON makes no specific commitments by market with regard to SPI. This is insufficient. SPI is one of the most important indicators of the sample’s representativeness to a given population.