Arbitron introduces no-docking station PPM


Arbitron is taking its Portable People Meter (PPM) system wireless. The new PPM 360 meter uses cellular telephone technology to send in its data, so panelists will not have to dock the device at night for data to be transmitted via a landline phone.

The new device is not, however, a consumer cell phone. It will not let panelists talk to anyone or send text messages. It will display text messages that Arbitron sends out to the panelist.

PPM 360 is now in the field testing phase. It will be several months until the new devices will be placed with panelists and gradually replace the previous generation of PPM meters, which require docking.
“This innovative approach further liberates audience measurement from the home and enables media, brands and marketers to follow the mobile consumer more closely – which is particularly important for brands appealing to younger demographics,” said Arbitron CEO Bill Kerr. “This platform is designed to be an integrated component to our existing radio services and drive future innovation for media measurement.”

Here is how Arbitron describes the new PPM 360:

“The new device design resembles a simple cell phone and is sleeker and smaller than the current meter. The inclusion of cellular wireless technology in the meter eliminates the need for an in-home docking station and a communications hub, creating an enhanced, streamlined experience for a panelist. The meter is ready out-of-the-box and can be charged with a simple USB cord. Arbitron can communicate with panelists through a text screen on the meter. It also retains a motion detector to monitor compliance, similar to previous versions of the PPM meter.”

“It’s a very, very simple plug-and-play technology,” Arbitron Chief Technology Officer Taymoor Arshi said Monday afternoon in the company’s monthly conference call with PPM clients. He noted that fewer pieces of equipment will have to be sent to PPM panelists, making set-up easier.

RBR-TVBR observation: Certainly a logical improvement. We’ve been comparing PPM meters to “pagers” for many years, but pagers are now ancient technology and no longer used by most of the population. The new device looks much more modern and, most importantly, is able to communicate wirelessly – like other modern devices.