Arbitron touts 25-34 efforts for PPM


With the release of its March data for Portable People Meter (PPM) markets, Arbitron is claiming success in raising numbers for 25-34 year-old panelists, part two of its pledge to broadcasters to increase 18-34 participation. Part one, obviously, was boosting 18-24. With 25-34 numbers up, some other categories are down – but Arbitron says that’s good because it’s managing all demos closer to goal and reducing oversampling.

Arbitron Sr. VP of press and Investor Relations Thom Mocarsky yesterday sent out a summary of where the various demos stand in the four PPM markets where the company has been implementing the 25-34 initiative: Philadelphia, New York and the two embedded markets of Nassau-Suffolk, NY and Middlesex-Somerset-Union, NJ. Arbitron said it was intentionally reducing its Persons 6+ oversample in those markets to “open up sampling points” for households with 25-34 year olds. Houston, the first PPM market, uses a different recruitment method.

Here’s what Arbitron says happened last month in Philly, NYC and the two embedded markets:

Person 6+ DDI: Above goal in all four markets

Persons 18-54 DDI: Above goal in all markets and well above the guarantee (DDI=80)

Persons 25-54 DDI: Above goal in all four markets

Persons 18-34 DDI: At an all time high for all markets, with better balance between the 18-24 and 25-34 segments. We exceeded the 70 DDI benchmark in all four markets.

Person 18-24 DDI: Month over month declines in all four markets, but still with solid DDIs: 80 or better in all four markets; 94 or better in two.

Persons 25-34 DDI: At all time highs with solid gains of 12 to 19 DDI points in all four markets. Two out of four markets are now at a DDI of 80 or better.

“There’s still more work to be done. It is also important to remember that we are now managing our DDIs closer to goal and not using oversampling at the 6+ level as one of the primary tools for improving DDIs in the 18-34 segment. Over the next weeks and months, we’re likely to see individual metrics among the narrow segments both rise and fall as we continue our efforts to improve the quality of our PPM sample,” Mocarsky said.

When Arbitron CEO Steve Morris said this week in his quarterly Wall Street conference call that he hadn’t heard much criticism of PPM lately, he obviously wasn’t including radio consultant Randy Kabrich, who has criticized Arbitron for reducing sample for other demos instead of just adding more 25-34 households. “It’s a good thing Arbitron doesn’t run the VA Hospitals. Using their logic, Iraq War Veterans missing limbs would have the remaining limbs removed to create ‘better balance’ instead of simply adding a prosthetic to the missing limb,” Kabrich quipped yesterday.

RBR/TVBR observation: Arbitron CEO Steve Morris was sounding very confident in his Wall Street conference call this week that broadcasters’ concerns have been dealt with and the PPM rollout can be resumed in September as planned. That confidence is reflected in the company’s decision to allow the press on its monthly PPM update conference call this Friday, instead of having a separate call for us press types.

One focus of the client calls is now to have real, live broadcasters share PPM success stories. Thus, Arbitron made last month’s call available to the press to hear after the fact – and this month wants us listening live.