Arbitron set to measure out-of-home TV viewing


The Portable People Meter (PPM) isn’t just for radio anymore. Arbitron today announced the “ARB-TV Suite of Video Measurement Solutions” which will use its PPM panels in radio markets to also track TV viewing, primarily out-of-home viewing.

Arbitron Executive Vice President Alton Adams told RBR/TVBR the new service already has clients and announcements will be made soon. The video measurement service will be offered in all PPM radio markets and use the same panels. The initial focus is on signing clients in the broadcaster space and having stations encode their signals for PPM measurement. A number of TV stations are already encoding, he said. “We would expect we would have some interest from advertisers and agencies as well,” he noted.

Adams said that while PPM will also receive encoding from in-home viewing, the service is not designed to compete with the incumbent in-home service, which he didn’t name. (OK, wild guess here – Nielsen.) “We see this as much more a complement, however, to existing in-home measurement services than as one you would look at as a substitute,” Adams said, although clients may want to use the in-home data from PPM for comparison to the other service.

How big is this business going to be? “It’s a little early to tell,” Adams said, noting that there is client interest, but the current economy is pressing on budgets. “Clearly it will not be anywhere near as big as our radio business, which will continue to be our primary business and our primary focus,” he added.

So, is this a response to Nielsen entering the US radio ratings marketplace? “We don’t consider this to be a Nielsen response or a Nielsen story for Arbitron. This is a request that we’ve had – a number of requests – from customers over the years once we’d introduced PPM. We saw this as a way to measure a mobile consumer in a way that other technology couldn’t. So out-of-home really does represent a natural extension of what PPM is good at, which is tracking the consumer regardless of where they are consuming media,” Adams said. He noted that Nielsen had offered an out-of-home measurement service, but discontinued it a few months ago.

RBR/TVBR observation: Arbitron insists this isn’t retaliation for Nielsen launching a US radio measurement service, but rather a natural extension of PPM’s capabilities. Indeed, TV was included when Arbitron and Nielsen were jointly testing PPM in Houston. We wonder, though, whether Arbitron would have been hesitant to challenge the larger TV-focused ratings company if the giant hadn’t already invaded its turf.

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