Arbitron and PPM Coalition settle their differences


Arbitron and the PPM Coalition announced that they have settled their outstanding disputes. They say they plan to move forward collaboratively, having already worked jointly with the Media Rating Council (MRC) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) to enhance the recruitment methodology of the Portable People Meter ratings service.

The enhancements, announced over the past few months, include the addition of address-based sampling with targeted in-person recruiting to increase PPM panelist participation in key market segments.

Chairman Towns applauded the settlement. “I am pleased to announce that Arbitron and the PPMC reached an agreement this week to address methodological and other problems associated with the Personal People Meter.  They have worked collaboratively to establish a plan of action that includes viable solutions and a realistic timetable for addressing the issues associated with use of the Personal People Meter,” the Congressman said. “I also want to applaud the Media Ratings Council for their able stewardship in helping to improve the Personal People Meter methodology. The Media Ratings Council is a creation of Congress and they have lived up to their congressional mandate through this entire process,” he added.

“Undercounting minorities has plagued urban radio stations since Arbitron began using the PPM in 2007, threatening to dismantle diversity on the airwaves and the financial viability of minority targeted radio stations whose advertising revenues depend on the size of their rated audience.  Now, with this agreement, I believe that minority listeners will be counted and minority owned radio stations will work more closely with Arbitron in a collaborative effort to ensure the accuracy of ratings. My Committee will closely monitor progress on implementing this agreement,” said Chairman Towns.

“Arbitron remains committed to the continuous improvement of our PPM ratings service. We have worked with the PPMC and the MRC to design these initiatives, and we believe they will help Arbitron deliver the quality data that our customers expect. These initiatives, together with other elements, are part of a larger ongoing program by Arbitron to obtain and retain MRC accreditation. We appreciate the leadership of Chairman Towns and his team for helping move this dialogue forward,” said Arbitron CEO Bill Kerr.

“We believe that this agreement represents a positive step that moves both groups forward in a spirit of collaboration,” said Charles Warfield, Chief Operating Officer, ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Inc., on behalf of the PPMC.  “This has been a long and difficult journey, but we are committed to working closely with Arbitron and the MRC and seeing the implementation of these initiatives.”

“Reliable ratings data is vitally important for all stakeholders in the radio marketplace. Arbitron’s commitment to evolve its methodology is a step forward in achieving that goal,” added Univision CEO Joe Uva.

“We are very pleased with the settlement. We hope it marks the beginning of a new kind of partnership with Arbitron where we all work together to continuously improve the PPM service which we believe will instill a new level of confidence in its results,” said Frank Flores, Chief Revenue Officer of Spanish Broadcasting System.

The initiatives include the addition of targeted in-person recruitment to Arbitron’s PPM panelist recruitment approach that currently includes mailings and phone calls. Arbitron said in-person recruitment benefits all broadcasters as it targets population segments that are more likely to be reachable only by cell phone – including youth and minorities. Arbitron will also use address-based sampling to select landline households to further improve geographic proportionality.

This enhanced recruitment approach is scheduled to begin in July 2010 with targeted in-person recruiting. In-person recruiting would initially be deployed in the high density Black and Hispanic areas across the top 25 PPM Markets by year-end 2010; with implementation of address-based sampling and the addition of targeted in-person recruiting across all geographies of all PPM Markets by the end of 2011.

Additional initiatives undertaken by Arbitron to help support minority and all broadcasters include:

Launching a previously disclosed engagement metric in 2010;

Increasing the PPM sample size for people 18-54 by approximately 10 percent by mid-2011 as previously disclosed;

Forming a minority leadership council in 2010 to bring the leadership of broadcasters and agency communities together; and

Expanding current initiatives directed toward advertiser outreach for minority radio.
“We hope that this agreement has placed us on the road to the improved audience measurement,” said Jim Winston, Executive Director of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.  “We have been talking with Arbitron for more than three years about PPM, and I am pleased that we have been able to come to an agreement for moving forward.”

“In order to effectively reach and connect with minority populations, quality data and audience representation is imperative for agencies and advertisers,” said Jessica Pantanini, Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) chair-elect and COO of Bromley Communications.

“The MRC has been focused on seeking more in-person recruitment, meter-installation and respondent coaching, as well as improved sample distribution, in Arbitron’s PPM methodology as part of our accreditation proceedings. We are pleased to see Arbitron agree to add these enhancements, which we believe can improve the quality of Arbitron’s currency ratings, and the MRC is proud to have been an independent and neutral component of this ongoing dialogue as requested by the House Oversight Committee,” said George Ivie, CEO and Executive Director of the Media Rating Council.

To date, only three of the 33 markets where PPM has been made currency for ad buying and selling have been accredited by the MRC.

RBR-TVBR observation: Since Bill Kerr took over as head of Arbitron the company has been moving aggressively to settle this dispute over minority recruitment for PPM panels. But even with this resolved, the bigger issue remains: Getting some more PPM markets, particularly top 10 markets, accredited by the MRC.