Citadel/S.F. Pres./GM Pleads For Arb To Fix PPM
August 13, 2009 at 4:44 AM (PT)
ARBITRON has it's fans and detractors -- and then there's simply radio executives who have to live and deal with PPM. CITADEL/SAN FRANCISCO Pres./GM for News-Talk KGO-A and Talk KSFO-A, as well as a former member of ARBITRON's Advisory Council, MICHAEL LUCKOFF falls into that third catagory, but has some issues with the PPM service -- so many issues apparently, he's written "An Open Letter To: MICHAEL SKARZYNSKI, President, ARBITRON." In it, he writes:
MICHAEL, you have stated your aim is to make ARBITRON services "an asset to customers, and not simply a tool."
Arbitron services by virtue of the PPM have become next to worthless if not actually destructive to many radio broadcasters.
I must state in response, ARBITRON services by virtue of the PPM have become next to worthless if not actually destructive to many radio broadcasters.
While serving my last term as President of The Advisory Council we were introduced to "The People Meter" and were positively assured there would be as many meters in each market being surveyed as there were (then) diaries in each market. With this unmistakable assurance the council encouraged ARBITRON to proceed with the new technology.
The number of meters being placed in each market is far short of the number originally promised and as a result some of the very same irregularities are beginning to appear as we had been accustomed to seeing in the "diary era."
Unfortunately for the radio broadcasting industry and the advertising community, not only was this promise never kept, but in fact only a fraction of that guaranteed number were ever placed. In the SAN FRANCISCO Metro for instance, approximately 7200 diaries were distributed every quarter. Now, there are but 2000 meters -- 800 households surveyed for what ARBITRON hopes to be for a 2-year period. While there is approximately a 6% turnover in PPM households every month (which is nice for Arbitron) enabling them to maintain their expenses it is very destructive for radio broadcasters, advertisers, etc.
One of the main sales advantages ARBITRON used in their sales campaign to radio broadcasters was represented to be the ability to measure program elements, tune-in as well as tune-out features. Moreover, when the scant numbers of meter response information is "sliced and diced" the available numbers, trends etc. are of absolutely no value in making any such decision with any degree of accuracy or reliability.
Meanwhile, the broadcasters are paying far more for much less usable data input than was ascertained in the past. Having so few meters stymies the ability to measure any aspect of programming at any particular time. Therefore, the promised advantage to programmers to make decisions based upon "PPM" input is virtually non existent. And for this, our expense for this service increased by 50%!
This situation will continue to be magnified as ARBITRON rolls out the PPM into smaller markets.
I eagerly look forward to your response.
You can download a copy of the letter here.
ALL ACCESS has contacted ARBITRON for their response.
Just YESTERDAY (NET NEWS 8/12), ARBITRON announced that the samples for its SPRING 2009 Diary Local Market Report "met or exceeded several key quality metrics that the company established as part of its continuous improvement program."