Arbitron’s Michael Skarzynski said that Arbitron was following accepted industry procedure in putting PPM on the market prior to receiving accreditation. The opinion was seconded by an MRC witness, but the decision was not.
Skarzynski said that the decision to commercialize PPM was made only after an exhaustive audit by Ernst & Young, and that in so doing it was following precedent set by Nielsen when it switched from diary to electronic measurement.
MRC’s Mike Ivie said that while it was true that using a 3rd party audit was within the rules, MRC recommendations hold that rollout should not occur until accreditation is achieved, and the old system should remain operational until accreditation. He noted that using Nielsen as a precedent may not be wise, as that particular rollout resulted in two Senate hearings.
Ivie said that Arbitron has been working hard to improve the product, and that it has indeed been listening to suggestions. He said he believed the ratings company was trying to find the balance point between accuracy and cost. He stated that it is MRC’s opinion that more person-to-person contact with young panelists, including training, was necessary. But it’s expensive.
Skarzynski noted many of the special efforts Arbitron makes, including using Spanish-speaking recruiters to sign up Hispanics, sending panelists coaches to markets and providing extra remunerative incentives.