Despite the tough ad market for radio stations, Arbitron CEO Steve Morris told analysts that the company was able to get rate increases in 2007, with revenues for the year up 6% to 338.5 million bucks. Q4 revenues rose 5.4% to 80.1 million. With the PPM rollout going slower than originally planned, bigger gains are seen in 2009, following a projected revenue increase of 6-8% in 2008. Another variable is whether or not Project Apollo moves from the test phase to commercial implementation and Morris said a go or no-go decision in consultation with the big agencies and advertisers assessing the rather costly national panel will be made soon. The guidance for 2008 was better than Wall Street had been expecting, so Arbitron’s stock rose yesterday.
With the rollout of PPM slowed down, but due to take off again come September, one analyst wanted to know whether the data being produced right now by PPM measurement are good enough to go ahead with the rollout in September. Morris replied that it all about “confidence in the numbers,” which he admitted was an intangible. “I think the numbers we have today are very, very solid and we have a lot of confidence in them in terms of being valid. We’ve also said that we really intend to use this delay period to improve a whole series of metrics,” Morris said, noting particularly that the company is now focusing on improving representation of 25-34 year olds in the PPM sample.