Arbitron February PPM client update: The good and the questionable


Arbitron delivered its February PPM client update Friday, with President of Sales and Marketing Pierre Bouvard mentioning they are continuing to exceed benchmarks set by The Radio Advisory Council late last year around total sample in 18-34–the age cells that clients had been complaining about most last November regarding data and sample size.

“Four months later we can say we’re getting results,” noted Bouvard in the call. “We’re meeting or exceeding 87% of the benchmarks across the eight markets.”

Jay Guyther, SVP/Ratings Services, noted one of the benchmarks was to deliver a 6+ guaranteed DDI of 90% (Designated Delivery Index), which compares the actual daily in-tab sample for a given demo by the target sample size demo. Against the 6+ target, currency markets Houston & Philadelphia; pre-currency markets Philly, NYC, Nassau-Suffolk and Middlesex, LA; and sample markets LA Riverside and Chicago are all actually well above 100.

He also noted their report indicated the strength of Urban Radio in a PPM world.

Houston’s Black DDI was 120, well above other stations. Urban KBXX-FM actually tied or was first in 25-54 for the month.

The assumption was that Black listeners were given an inordinate number of PPM devices to show such an improvement, however that was dismissed, noting that all stations getting better older demo numbers with PPM–not just KBXX.

Consultant Randy Kabrich begged to differ on the call, and with RBR: “The issue is Radio One was late to the table, and Radio One has performance guarantees of ethnic DDI levels/ratios in their contracts with Arbitron that no one else has. Everyone else has this stupid 70% guarantee. So that’s why Arbitron is oversampling and they will not talk about moving the DDI down from 120 because they don’t want to screw up the Radio One contract along the way—but that’s giving all the Urban stations an unfair advantage now! Why are they going up? Because the DDI is like over 120%!”

He elaborated more: “If you go back to February 1st of last year and you go 56 weeks into this, it’s only up to 60 daily in-tab and that is all Urban and Hispanic. In fact, the Anglos and others in the markets have actually decreased by another 60 daily in-tab along the way. The Black DDI, which [they] are touting as their magic formula is averaging as high as over 130 the second week in February and averaged 125—it was 25% oversampled! You take this with the 18-34s and other cells they can’t even get close to 100 DDI on, it’s just like what we saw with ESF 15 years ago–when you increase the diaries 50% you have more stations make the cut and you have people showing up in different demos. That’s where the Top 40 listeners start showing up in the 25-54 demos.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The good news is that Arbitron has the ability to get sample rates and DDIs up. While they may have over-shot the mark here with Urban, the goal now is to keep the sample up in all demos and stabilize the numbers to get and keep MRC Accreditation in PPM markets. It’s a process, but hopefully they will get it right and gain the confidence back from broadcasters.