Harker: Some PPM Respondents Only In It For The Money
Are Too Many Gaming The System?
March 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM (PT)
In a recent posting on HARKER RESEARCH's Radio Insight blog, GLENDA SHRADER BOS and RICHARD HARKER highlight one-on-one interviews of PPM respondents conducted by BROADCAST ARCHITECTURE’s ALLEN KEPLER, which depict panelists of being more interested in making money from ARBITRON and playing contests than actually listening to -- or even hearing -- the radio. Reportedly, cash incentives and contests can bring a PPM family up to $1,000 a month.
KEPLER, who was interviewed by MARK RAMSEY, which can be seen in RAMSEY's Area 51 column in ALL ACCESS, cited one PPM panelist who said she attached meters to ceiling fans to earn extra cash. "She knows it is technically 'cheating' but she was motivated by earning points for cash. 'I know we shouldn’t do it, but we wanted to make sure our numbers were still there.'"
While the column does note that KEPLER (whose company promotes the Smooth Jazz format that isn't considered to be particularly PPM friendly), only interviewed 13 people for this survey and relies on anecdotal evidence, it also noted that British broadcasters "reached the same conclusion six years ago in 2005. It is a key reason they unplugged the meters: 'Ultimately, we had to concede that the methodology was measuring people’s interaction with the methodology itself, and not with the media we were supposed to be measuring.'
"HARKER RESEARCH staffers also talk to PPM panelists," the blog continues. "The panelists we talk to tell us they too game the system ... As far as the participant is concerned, ARBITRON is measuring movement, not radio. There is no incentive to wear the meter visibly, somewhere it will pick up the sound of a radio station. Stuff it away. Compliance is all about keeping the meter moving.
"As British broadcasters concluded six years ago, ARBITRON is now in the business of measuring people’s behavior, their willingness (and creativity) to keep a pager in motion through the day ... If it picks up a radio station or two, it’s just a bonus."