Arbitron Advisory Council meeting unveils new subcommittees


The Spring 2010 Radio Advisory Council (RAC) meeting was held in Annapolis, MD 5/11 and 5/12. Bill Rose, Arbitron SVP/Marketing and Doug Abernethy, RAC Chair and Radio One RVP/Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis held a press conference 5/13 to discuss highlights:
• The 10% PPM sample target increase is about to begin—in the middle of this year.
• Benchmarks were discussed: The way that Arbitron grades itself for its sample performance. The system is now in place at the RAC’s request and was instrumental in Arbitron’s implementing cell-phone sampling, now in all of their markets.
• The Council talked about its recent reorganization, adding new members/positions including for digital, network spot, rep firm, public radio, multicultural, diary market reps, etc.
• There were separate track meetings on PPM and Diary for the first time
• They also put the Agency and Radio Councils sessions together to share ideas and info.
• They discussed digital rights rules on playing the same spots online as on-air—and the agency accountability issues involved.

Said Abernethy: “The key theme was ‘Welcome to the bigger is better council’. The council is up to 34 members. There’s a new CEO with Bill Kerr. I’m really encouraged by his comments. I believe he has a full commitment to becoming better partners with the radio industry. He sent a message that sample size and quality is extremely important. He wants to be an advocate to grow our revenue and create top-of-mind awareness for radio. He wants to be very active in public dialogue w/r/t PPM and the Diary and he really sees the Council as a key component in reaching these goals.”

Other highlights from Abernethy:
• The meetings focused on sample increase and quality. Arbitron shared with RAC some innovate ways in reaching both of those goals, including making them more qualitative.
• They also created subcommittees to discuss the redefinition of markets and total line reporting (report their audience estimates for several properties as a single number vs. individual stations’ numbers). Those subcomms have not been filled yet.
• Tom Skinner, RAC Vice Chair, leads up the Diary sessions; Abernethy leads up the PPM sessions.
• Three hours were spent with the Agency Council on how Arbitron may be able to help the industry. Electronic Avails were talked about; a rep link to insert orders directly was discussed.
• Gordon Borrell discussed opportunities for radio to partner with the Internet to generate additional revenue.

Added Rose: “The nature of the dialogue was very positive, helpful and direct. I think speed is really the key theme – we want to work with as much of a sense of urgency as we possibly can about bringing these changes in sample size and quality…[on market redefinition subcommittee goals] The policies in place relating to metro redefinition are such that more than half of the listening needs to be to the home market in question—the county and commuting data from the census. At least 15% of the people living in the county need to commute to the metro in question. That census data for commuting is quite old. A number of clients had mentioned a need to take another look at the policy and see if it needs to be updated. We found the council has been very helpful in giving us guidance on how we adopt new policies and we wanted to make sure we had client feedback on that, so that’s the purpose of that subcommittee.”