You may recall the recent exchange in RBR between Northern Broadcast, Traverse City, MI General Manager Charlie Ferguson and Arbitron VP Thom Mocarsky over two books per year Condensed Market ratings issues. Now, at least one of the issues has been resolved.
Ferguson’s complaints have resulted in Arbitron agreeing to modify its SmartPlus software for ad buyers so that they can no-longer pull two-book averages in Condensed Markets, which they aren’t supposed to be doing anyway. “We intend to remove that capability,” Mocarsky confirmed to RBR.
Ferguson is happy about the change, if not how long it is taking to get it done. Arbitron has told him that the fix will take effect in March of 2008. “Considering that Arbitron’s SmartPlus summary data program has been performing non-MRC accredited calculations for Condensed Markets since late 2005, how much money do you think your Condensed Market stations have lost due to buyers using inaccurate ratings information? For over a year and a half, Arbitron has tried to sweep this under the rug as a ‘training issue with the agencies using SmartPlus.’ That’s simply not true – it was a mistake that has cost our company a small fortune – and we’re supposed to celebrate because they’re going to fix it at the end of the first quarter of 2008,” Ferguson said in an email to RBR. And he added this kicker for folks in larger markets: “I’m thrilled – and can’t help but wonder if they’ll use the same timetable for the big markets to fix PPM.”