Arbitron details PPM sample increases and guarantees


The improvements designed to boost client confidence in PPM were unveiled at last week’s meeting of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council (RAC). Now Arbitron has provided some additional details. To boost the 12+ sample by 10% at no cost to customers, Arbitron says it is looking at several possibilities, including “an increase to the cell phone only household sampling rate, redistributing children 6-11 sample and/or the introduction of sample stratification. The specific combinations of approaches are pending the outcome of methodological tests and further industry consultation.”

Arbitron President and CEO Steve Morris declared the PPM sample improvements “a significant step forward” and thanked the RAC for its input. “The Advisory Council deserves credit from the industry for providing Arbitron with insights and input over the last few months which enabled us to raise the bar regarding these key PPM sample metrics,” said Morris.

Key components of the PPM sample plan debuted at the July 2008 RAC meeting include:

–Increasing the Persons 12+ sample target by 10%

–Increasing the threshold for the Persons 18-54 sample size guarantee from 80% to 90%

–Raising the PPM sample benchmarks for total Persons 6+ from 90% to 100%.

–Increasing the sample benchmarks for 18-34 from 70-75% at month six, prior to the 80% benchmark for year two and beyond.

Arbitron plans to increase the Persons 12+ sample target in current and future PPM markets by 10% at no additional cost to customers, with the exact measures yet to be determined, as detailed in the first paragraph of this story. Arbitron plans to implement the increase in Person 12+ sample target in phases, beginning in 2009, with completion currently expected by the end of 2010.

Arbitron also announced two changes to its previously disclosed Persons 18-54 PPM sample size guarantee.  First, the current guarantee threshold of 80% will now take effect in each PPM local market with the first month of PPM currency in that market instead of the fourth.  Second, starting on the first anniversary of PPM currency in the local market, the threshold for the Persons 18-54 sample size guarantee will be raised to 90% of the sample target as determined based on a 13-report monthly rolling average.  

The company plans two changes to its persons 6+ benchmark.  The current benchmark of 90% of the sample target for persons 6+ will take effect in the first month of currency instead of the fourth.  Starting on the first anniversary of PPM currency in a market, the Persons 6+-sample benchmark will be raised from 90% to 100% of the sample target based on a 13-report monthly rolling average.
Arbitron’s new sample plan involves three elements for its 18-34 benchmarks.  First, the current benchmark – 70% of target – will take effect with the first currency report instead of the current approach, which begins on the fourth month.  Second, the benchmark will be raised to 75% of target with the sixth currency report.  Lastly, the 18-34 benchmark will increase to 80% of target effective with first anniversary of PPM currency in a market based on a 13-report monthly rolling average.

The 18-34 benchmarks apply (depending on market population) to the following gender, race and ethnicity breaks: Persons, Men, Women, Black, Hispanic and Other.

Industry feedback will be sought. “We will review the specific methods by which we plan to achieve these enhancements with the Media Rating Council and the NAB Committee on Local Radio Audience Measurement (COLRAM),” said Morris.

Arbitron said it intends to provide a more detailed summary of the plan along with milestones and timelines in the weeks to come.