Kabrich Asserts PPM Hurting Urban, Hispanic; A Radio PD Says 'Not So Fast'
July 30, 2009 at 4:48 AM (PT)
Consultant and persistent PPM monitor RANDY KABRICH has crunched ARBITRON's recently released PPM data, compared it to the previous year's diary results and come up with one conclusion: In what he calls the "currency ratings of the top-10 stations in major PPM markets, the Urban and Hispanic stations have more than doubled the loss of the non-ethnic stations.
"I started with the premise of 'what has happened to the diary book market leaders in PPM?' he noted. "So, I examined the top-10 stations in the last diary book for their respective markets and compared them to the current (JUNE) PPM monthly. I used AQH ratings [for] the 18-49 demographic because this is the primary currency for the ethnic stations (and it's close to having the lead again for all general market buys)."
Guys like Randy Kabrich help hold Arbitron's hand to the fire to improve their technology. It is necessary, but trying to make an argument that it is less accurate than the previous system is false
According To Kabrich's Analysis Of That Data
* Hispanic-formatted stations lost an average of 42% of their ratings and dropped 5 ranks.
* Urban-formatted stations lost an average of 34% of their ratings and dropped 2 ranks.
* Non-ethnic formatted stations lost an average of 16% of their ratings, but held their ranks.
Bottom line: from diary to PPM, in currency ratings, the Urban and Hispanic stations have more than double the loss of the non-ethnic stations. The full chart of KABRICH's findings can be found here.
Cat Claims Conclusions Misleading
However, the KABRICH analysis didn't sit well with CBS RADIO/LAS VEGAS Dir./FM Programming CAT THOMAS, who oversees Top 40/Rhythmic KLUC, AC KKMJ (MAGIC 95.5), ADULT HITS KKJJ (JACK FM) and Hot AC KMXB (MIX 94.1). From his perspective, comparing diary data to PPM is largely irrelevant because diary data is heavily distorted by loyalty recall.
"Those facts are correct but not accurate," THOMAS said. "You have to really look at the diaries. One of the biggest farces of the diary system was the voting aspect. You found true Urban, Hip-Hop and Spanish Language P-1s voting for stations that represented their lifestyle, thus giving 200+ quarter-hours to that one station and little to none to any other. While the other listeners to AC, Rock, Top 40, Hot AC, Country, Oldies, Alternative, etc, really spread their listening amongst four to six other stations.
"Diary rewarded the lifestyle image of a radio station that could acquire votes for a brand. We have always known about Phantom Cume and now PPM has proven what we have always known: No one listens for 200+ quarter-hours per week, let alone 250 or 300, Phantom Cume is REAL cume, and listeners have the same pattern of listening to several different stations per week regardless of age, race, language or musical tastes.
"What we are finding in PPM is 'exclusive' listeners to those lifestyle stations, are, as we believed, just like everyone else. If you look at the numbers, the cume on those stations haven't gone down. We're finding that those listeners do tune into Top 40, Rock, AC, Hot AC, Country and other stations that previously never got credit in diary (recall) world.
"In PPM the average listener is spending time with five to six stations per week -- regardless of age, race or language. Even the Spanish-only listeners are listening to English-speaking radio in a PPM world. In a diary world, they rarely wrote that down. We are finding that, by percentage, the PPM panelist -- just like the diary keepers -- are still giving about 70% of their quarter-hours to their 'Favorite' station. It’s just being noted that it’s in 'real time,' not by memory a week later.
"Is this a perfect system? No, but it’s still better than any other system that is in place. You can look at this from many different angles, but the fact remains the same: No one listens to a radio 10-12 hours a day nonstop; people are too busy with their lives. Those of us who work in radio stations day-to-day know that we get calls for something 'our DJ did' or 'something that was said on our station,' only to learn that the listener or client was confused and had the wrong station. People are exposed to messages all day and can be confused where they heard it; PPM alleviates that.
"Even if this system is not perfect, and it isn't, it is a better and a more accurate reading that we got with diaries. Can it be improved? Absolutely. Can we work toward more panelists to help with accuracy? Absolutely. Will we as programmers need to adapt to a new system as we have with new technology to survive? Absolutely. Will those that fight change and advancing technology be doomed by it? Absolutely!
"Sometimes the road is bumpy and it’s guys like RANDY KABRICH that help hold ARBITRON’s hand to the fire to improve their technology. It is necessary, but trying to make an argument that it is less accurate than the previous system is false."
Randy Responds: If The PPM's Not Good Enough For The MRC...
KABRICH responded by emphasizing PPM's sample issues and the diary's winning hand with the MRC-approval trump card.
"I can give you hundreds of situations that show that diary method is accurate," he wrote. "You can see it in the 15-minute ratings of WINS-A on 9/11/2001, WXRK post-HOWARD STERN, WHPT with BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE sign-on, RICK AND BUBBA in BIRMINGHAM, every AC station that does CHRISTMAS music, the WIP FRIDAY pre-SUPER BOWL broadcast, News/Talk stations during the 15-minutes of the OJ SIMPSON verdict, the KHPT sign-on in HOUSTON, the KXGL sign-on in AMARILLO and hundreds more in markets of every size and shape. There are countless examples in CAT’s market of LAS VEGAS if he would look close enough.
"Furthermore the diary is MRC audited and accredited as being correct. PPM is not. CAT has no way of knowing if the PPM is correct or incorrect (in fact, LAS VEGAS has yet to adopt PPM).
"One does realize that the MRC has accredited 1-day, 15-minute periods of listening in the diary as accurate, but the MRC has never accredited the PPM 1 day (much less 15 minutes) of listening ratings as accurate -- even in HOUSTON or RIVERSIDE.
"I have never once stated that the PPM is 'less accurate' as CAT asserted and quite frankly, we have no way to know which is more accurate at this point. Simply put, we have a bad sample, so there is no way to draw any conclusion as to which methodology is better at this point in time.
"Bottom line; Why do the ethnic stations in the two markets that have received MRC accreditation score better than the markets without MRC accreditation? Perhaps one should ask that question, along with why the MRC has turned down accreditation of N.Y., L.A., PHILADELPHIA and the other markets?
"When radio is given...
1) Full MRC accreditation for all markets (Not the partial MRC accreditation as we currently have in HOUSTON and RIVERSIDE for full dayparts, 28-day listening periods).
2) A full sample.
3) Working with the respondents to make them record their listening 7 days a week by actually undocking the meter so the Weekly Cume looks more in line with the Daily Cume.
"... Then perhaps we can tell if the methodology is correct or not.
"Until that time, CAT is just speculating and has no facts to back him up.
"I'd love for PPM to be more accurate than diaries. However, at this point, there is no evidence of that with a sample that is so inaccurate and a system that the MRC has turned accreditation down on multiple times in most markets."