Disagreement on PPM accreditation


All four participants in an RBR/TVBR panel on Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) agree that getting accreditation by the Media Rating Council (MRC) is an important goal, but they differ on how important, or at least how quickly that has to be achieved. MindShare President of Local Broadcast Kathy Crawford joined Cox Radio CEO Bob Neil in insisting that PPM needs to have MRC accreditation before it becomes currency for buying and selling radio ad time in any more markets. But Janice Finkel-Green, Initiative Media EVP of Local Broadcast, disagreed, insisting that PPM is so much better than diaries that there is no reason to hold-up the roll-out while waiting for the mRC stamp of approval. As you would expect, Pierre Bouvard, President of Sales and Marketing for Arbitron, agrees with Finkel-Green.  

“We think accreditation is a goal but not an obstacle. Our customers have told us repeatedly through the Advisory Council to pursue accreditation but don’t wait.  Radio is surrounded by competitive media that have a very thriving buy/sell currency that are not accredited,” said Bouvard.

Neil suggested that Bouvard should be talking to radio group heads, many of whom he said are less enthusiastic about resuming the roll-out, not just the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council members. Neil repeated his often-heard view that getting MRC accreditation will show that the science is right for PPM and give everyone more faith in the currency.

Certainly we would like to think the PPM would be head and shoulders above the diary.  However, there are issues with the PPM that we feel that since the accreditation set standards by which Arbitron needs to be able to deliver that we feel that since there is a change from the methodology of Houston and we have some other issues with the PPM we believe it needs to be accredited before it becomes currency,” said Crawford, whose firm is one of the nation’s biggest buyers of radio ad time.

According to Bouvard, what is more important than MRC accreditation is making continual progress in the PPM panels and data. He noted that Arbitron now exceeds its targets for its PPM sample in nearly all demos for the markets where the new technology is now currency or in the testing phase.

“Yeah, but Pierre those sample targets were set by you. The 70% level that you often trumpet on your calls were set by Arbitron, not by broadcasters.  I don’t think there is a single broadcaster that thinks a 70% number against a sample target is acceptable,” said Neil.

Bouvard responded that Philadelphia is now well beyond that. “Six months ago we were in the 60s – you know we’re now in the 80s. We’re blowing past the 70, we’re blowing past the 80, 18-24 is in the 90s. We did not set the benchmarks as kind of easy lay-ups. We set them as kind of minimums with the full intention to keep working at it,” he replied.

Finkel-Green asked Bouvard whether improving those panel numbers made any difference in the radio ratings that came out of the PPM surveys and Bouvard replied that they do not – the ratings stay basically the same. So, Finkel-Green is ready to go full-speed ahead with PPM.

“I have no confidence in the diaries. How can I possibly go forward after I’ve seen what the PPM is yielding and not use it in some way? It seems irresponsible to me to turn my back on what I think are more accurate ratings that are probably not going to change substantially,” she said.

RBR/TVBR will have more on this interesting discussion by our panelists. To hear the entire session, please go to the Media Center on RBR.com. The audio file runs approximately 50 minutes.