Arbitron To Raise Benchmarks Again, Admits To Paying Rebates
April 29, 2009 at 11:29 AM (PT)
In their first press conference together that was just concluded, ARBITRON CEO MICHAEL SKARZYNSKI and RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL Chair LISA DECKER announced that the ratings company will be increasing benchmarks in both DDI and in-tab when it comes to the PPM, and DDI benchmark increases and guarantees for the diary. What's more, SKARZYNSKI admitted that ARBITRON has had to pay out rebates for failing to meet benchmark guarantees in the past.
The benchmark increases in PPM measurement include persons 6+ DDI rising from 90-95% in year 1 and 100% in year 2, with 18-34 DDI increasing 70%-80%. In-tab averages for 18-34 will be lifted from 60-70%. All these benchmarks will be measured on a 13-month rolling average.
Cell phone-only in-tab targets will be increased from 10-15% by the end of 2009. That's an additional bump from the original promise to increase CPO households from 10%-12.5%
An entire day of the ARBITRON/RAC meetings were devoted to diary issues; ARBITRON agreed to a new DDI benchmark in diary markets for 18-34 as 70% in year 1 and 80% in year 2, starting in SPRING 2009. DECKER also noted that the ratings firm agreed to create a 18-54 DDI guarantee for diary markets; it will report back on a suitable benchmark and timing for the guarantee at a later date.
DECKER and SKARZYNSKI also mentioned that CPO response rates in diary markets should eventually fall in line with the PPM CPO increase to 15%.
Willingness To Work With Customers, Pay Rebates
In his opening remarks, SKARZYNSKI noted that because of the "particularly tough times economically due to the recession, with a deep decline in advertising revenue, our customers look to ARBITRON for greater improvements and value from our services." When asked during the Q&A session if ARBITRON made any accommodation to its customers' financial arrangements to help them in these tough times, SKARZYNSKI replied, "We work with our customers on specific issues. If a customer has such issues with us, they will be kept confidential and we will listen to their concerns."
When asked if the benchmarks were being raised because ARBITRON has met all its current guarantees, SKARZYNSKI admitted that "It would be incorrect to say ARBITRON has never paid a rebate" for failing to meet a guarantee. He would not go into specifics as to the nature of the guarantees -- there has been more than one rebate -- and what stations received them; he only noted that the rebates were disseminated to ARBITRON customers in the entire market where the data failed to live up to the specific guarantees.
Last but not least, the hot topic in ARBITRON/RADIO ADVISORY COUNCIL meetings set for later in the year, according to DECKER, will be in raising the sample sizes.