Arbitron PPM panelist shares some views


Arbitron / PPM 360An Arbitron PPM panelist of nine months reached out to RBR-TVBR and had a few things to say about the whole process. The panelist met all of the overall criteria of Arbitron’s placement—the person did not work for, nor had they had any social contacts with any agency or radio personnel in the city in which they lived. However, the person did work with some banks and financial institutions that deal with radio stations, but these banks do not have an equity or ownership interest in the stations. Arbitron found the person to be qualified.

The positive thing the panelist noted is that within a short period of time, the ability to help one’s ‘favorite station’ by listing it on a diary all day long for two weeks, per se, is harder to do in the PPM world (the person had been in a diary sample, too).

The panelist did note that since the PPM picks up everything you listen to continually, they tended to leave a station on in the background for longer periods of time, even though they weren’t really listening.

The panelist also noted the PPM methodology is probably fairly sound. However, considering the money that the clients of Arbitron pay in a given market, it bounds upon “abuse” by Arbitron for how the panelists are compensated: “For the first month, there’s a $50/month one-time carry your meter for 10 hours per day average for 7 days. After that, though, Arbitron takes things for granted in that if you look at what the cost is for placing the meters in a household (refurbishment of equipment, all the cold calling) a lot of people won’t make the commitment to carry these beeper-looking devices 10+ a day, vs. what the panelists are paid.”

It gets down to the point where the panelist that’s already done six-nine months of carrying the PPM (Arbitron actually shoots for 12-18 months on panelists) only gets $12-$15 per person per month in the household, the panelist said.

In the end, the panelist decided it wasn’t worth the hassle because of the “total lack of appreciation on the part of Arbitron.”

The panelist did note Arbitron was sending congratulatory and praising emails every couple of weeks and offered sweepstakes entries for $10,000 or $20,000 prizes.

RBR-TVBR observation: Does Arbitron “abuse” its meter panelists? Hard to say. The more you pay the panelists, the more it costs the stations and agencies. Panelists already carry a load each day, from keys, to smartphones, to iPads, etc…so it might be annoying to carry one more thing—which looks like a beeper. If Arbitron is having problems with panelist retention, then they should up the monthly payment—and that already varies per demographics. Bottom line though, they sure pay more than they used to for diaries!


  1. Interesting! The part about leaving the station on all day even if the guy wasn’t actively listening because he knows how the system works so he “works” the system.

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