A critical view


After reading Arbitron’s explanation of its second straight week of in-tab declines in Philadelphia, consultant Randy Kabrich questions whether the trade-off makes sense as Arbitron tries to boost 25-34 PPM performance, while seeing other demos decline. The RBR/TVBR Blog Log lets you read his analysis and judge for yourself.

Arbitron’s new 25-34 initiative has erased 28 weeks (7 months) of PPM intab growth in the Philadelphia market.   Arbitron says this reduction in intab sample is "intentional".  We are perplexed by this; weren’t those seven months of gains to the sample intentional as well?

Now in the second week of Arbitron’s new 25-34 initiative, where Arbitron is systematically replacing non-25-34 households with 25-34 households, their 25-34 intab shows an nice improvement, but that appears to come at the sacrifice of every other demographic.  Overall intab has dropped to the lowest level since last September in the Quarter Arbitron claims to be their "high water mark" before we go downhill through the Summer .  Many demos have experienced drastic losses.  Not only are all demos’ intabs down (except 25-34), but some are actually lower now than they were in the first week of PPM, more than a year ago.
Some specifics:
* Total Daily 6+ intab is 1561 in March week 2; this is the lowest intab since the second week of September 2007
* We can get a fast before and after look by comparing the current week to the last week in Feb (which was their final week before this new 25-34 initiative):
* 25-34 intab is up by 30 intab vs. the last week in Feb., a 23% gain
* However, 18-24 is down by 24 intab, a 16% loss
* 35-44 is down by 33 intab, a 13% loss vs. the final week before the initiative (more on this age cell below)
* All other cells are down as well (specifics on chart below)
* Even more disturbing is that the important 35-44 intab is at an all time low.  Arbitron currently has fewer 35-44 intab than they did at the beginning of PPM.  In February of 2007, they had 238 Adults 35-44 daily intab; today, in March 2008, that has actually dropped to 220.  Any progress Arbitron has made in growing the PPM sample in this very important 35-44 demographic (important to Rockers, Country, News/Talk, Smooth Jazz, Urban AC, etc. etc.), has been erased. 

Bottom line:  Arbitron has paid a very big price for a gain of a mere 30 more 25-34s in the sample — they’ve erased seven months of solid sample growth and hundreds of intab, to gain only 30 intab in one cell.  We’ve been calling for gains in this cell for a long time and were told their planned initiative would not hurt 18-24.  Well, it not only hurt 18-24, it hurt every other age cell and has erased 100% of their progress in the critical 35-44 demo.    Arbitron claims they "intentionally" reduced the sample size in order to "make room" for more 25-34 households.  It’s hard to believe they would "intentionally" erase seven months of growth to the sample plus the entirely delete growth in the 35-44 age cell, ending with fewer intab than they started with. 

The following charts will provide detail:



Randy Karbich

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