Arbitron puts more “Feet on the Street”


In its latest move to boost survey participation in young ethnic demos, Arbitron is expanding its in-person Portable People Meter (PPM) training. The new program, “Feet on the Street,” is scheduled to have bilingual Arbitron representatives knocking on the doors of newly-recruited Hispanics and African-Americans age 18-34 in the top 10 PPM markets by the end of April 2009. It was deployed as a pilot program last April (2008) in New York and Philadelphia and boosted in-tab rates by double-digits.  

Feet on the Street is designed to reach out to African-American and Hispanic respondents, age 18-34, who have not developed good carry habits within the first eight days of their time on a PPM panel. If the in-tab rate during those first eight days is below a pre-set threshold, a Feet on the Street representative will attempt to schedule the in-person visit for a time that is within the first 28 days of the respondent’s tenure in the panel.

The targeted panelist will be offered a gift card for agreeing to and keeping the appointment. The respondent is also offered a bonus for improved performance over the next four weeks after the visit. The Arbitron representative can also provide a travel recharger, carry accessories or even decorative “skins” for the PPM itself. The trainer can also highlight the “My Meter and Me” website that allows respondents to track their compliance hours and their bonus points every day.

The in-person training program was first deployed as a pilot in New York and Philadelphia in April 2008. It was also introduced in Dallas and San Francisco in June 2008 and in Los Angeles during the Holiday 2008 survey period (12/11/2008-1/7/2009). Subsequent deployments are scheduled for Houston in February 2009 (2/5-3/4), Chicago and Washington D.C. in March 2009 (3/5-4/1), and Boston and Atlanta in April 2009 (4/2-4/29).

“Our pilot tests in New York and Philadelphia showed a double-digit gain for in-tab rates among the young African-Americans and Hispanics that we visited for this extra training,” said Bob Patchen, Chief Research Officer, Arbitron Inc. “The improved in-tab rates also resulted in a large decrease in the turnover rate due to poor compliance. We expect the net effect to be improved representation of ethnic young adults in our PPM panels,” he added.

RBR/TVBR observation: We had to laugh when we read this quote in the Arbitron announcement: “Your mother would want you to marry one of our ‘feet on the street’ trainers,” said Nancy Weissman, director, PPM Panel Relations. They’re described as “charming, engaging and persuasive bilinguals.” We really didn’t think they were sending out thugs to threaten people who forgot to carry their PPM devices.