10 Questions with ... Jay Krakowitz
May 31, 2011
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
First radio job was volunteering at Towson University's WCVT. Then on to internship at WIYY/ Baltimore. Denise Oliver and Chuck DuCoty were my bosses.
2) Your company, Research Concepts, provides both diary analyses and PPM analyses for radio stations. How long have you been providing these services for diary-based stations?
I've reviewed diaries for 30 years and PPM for four years. How can programmers validate information contained in PPM? You cannot audit Arbitron's PPM data at its Maryland facility. Why is that important? With a diary review, one can see the data from every in-tab survey participant and likely get answers to specific ratings results questions. However with PPM, you can only use the data Arbitron provides (Analysis Tool, Weeklies, PDAdvantage.) It is so important to have access to un-weighted data from each survey participant, but Arbitron does not make it available. I believe better programming and marketing decisions can be made with access to un-weighted participant data.
3) The biggest change from a diary-based survey and PPM seems to be much higher cume and lower Time Spent Listening, but is it more accurate?
For sure, PPM shows the majority of stations with significantly larger cume, yet most suffer from lower TSL estimates. I guess it is accurate. However, keep in mind that the meter will detect a station counted towards your station's cume even if the station is heard only five minutes. The person wearing the meter may have absolutely no idea he/she was in the signal range of the meter, yet it counts in ratings that this person "listens to the station." It could be a person walking in a convenience store to purchase a soda and the meter records the station counting as cume. In the diary world, I would never expect the person to write down the station heard at the convenience store. Is it an accurate awarding of cume to the station? Yes. Is it really listening? No.
4) How do you feel about the emergence of PPM as the primary Arbitron measuring system? With so much immediate data now available, do you see that as an advantage?
Any way to provide more reliable and accurate measurement is an advantage to radio --especially when comparing reach estimates against other media. There are sample issues with PPM, plus the discrepancy over the length of time a household can be in the survey. With these issues still unsolved, the PPM system needs more time to be evaluated. When you say there is so much immediate data available, I assume you are referencing the quick Arbitron turnaround in providing estimates. That is an advantage. But everyone still must remember the sample sizes are small compared to diaries and limited un-weighted data to review.
5) How you account for the fact that your company has continued to have success, while others have been forced to switch their focus or step out of the business altogether?
From day one, I always said my company will be known for its integrity, professionalism and quality work. No station has ever called and complained over the report. In fact, we get compliments many times for delivering quality reports. We constantly market, seeking new business so that helps keep us top-of-mind.
6) Did coming from the consultant side of the business help prepare you for the realities of providing answers in a PPM world?
When stations call you, frantically wondering why they lost 25% of their audience in one diary survey, you become a consultant overnight to provide explanations and offer advice. Although I do not market my company as a consultancy, our reports offer data that acts like a consultant's perspective. With PPM, ratings estimates are more stable because likely over 80% of the participants the month before are participating in the current month. We can provide guesses as to why stations went up or down in PPM, but without access to the un-weighted data, these are just guesses.
How do you feel Research Concepts is poised for the future, given the problems Arbitron has experienced with sampling in PPM, particularly with African -Americans and other minorities?
My company will review PPM data for any station regardless of format. We see no change in our future because of the "problems" Arbitron has or had with various groups.
7) What's the biggest misconception about consultants?
The biggest misconception about consultants is they are the "magic" to bring higher ratings and revenue. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't work, it doesn't necessarily mean the consultant is not good. It really depends on what resources the consultant is provided and the consultant's knowledge of how the diary and PPM systems work.
8) How should Arbitron go about doing a better job of getting younger demos in their PPM samples and what can they do to get better responses from cell phone-only households?
I believe Arbitron is doing the right things to get younger demos in the sample and cell phone-only homes. It is tough to recruit younger persons. Cell phone meter chips seem like a good bet for the future.
9) What would you say are the unique properties and features your company offers and what do you see as your biggest challenge?
We offer an analysis of Arbitron and Nielsen data. I am present for every diary review conducted by my company. I also oversee all operations in our office assuring the reports are delivered accurately and timely. Our biggest challenge is the poor economic conditions. So many people want my service, but can't get money for the reports. It amazes me that when livelihoods and millions of dollars in operating budgets are predicated on Arbitron results, stations do not make a small investment to assure they are receiving all the credit they deserve and to provide PDs with data to help them make more accurate programming decisions.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No regrets. If it wasn't for my internships I would not know how the ratings are compiled.
What do you think ratings companies such as Arbitron could do to better serve the needs of their customers?
Provide more education on diaries and PPM. Many people claim they know enough to get by, but few really do. When PDs call you asking questions, you would be amazed as to the terms they use which are completely wrong. This could be why PDs claim Arbitron is always to blame for bad ratings. Also, provide un-weighted PPM data.
What's your favorite reading material?
I use a computer all day at work and at night when doing reports, so I usually do not want to get on it for fun time. I'll occasionally look at some websites for fun, but that time is very limited. I like to read business magazines and local newspapers.
Do you feel consolidation has hurt radio? If so, how?
In some ways. When only two or three groups control 75% of the market's ad revenue, that is unfair to advertisers. Jobs are lost, which is a bad thing, but a good thing in the eyes of owners to save money. I remember the days when there were six or so owners and each diary survey; you would see each owner doing tactful promotions. Those were good, interesting, fun radio days for the listeners.
How do you feel about weighting to achieve balance?
I am in favor of weighting, but still believe Arbitron needs bigger PPM sample and needs to shorten the length of time one home can be in the PPM sample.
What's your favorite meal?
Barbeque chicken and rice