Happy Holiday report for Arbitron


Ratings data for the 13th month of the year, as measured by the Portable People Meter (PPM) system, was released yesterday – the so-called “Holiday” ratings period. And, since Arbitron has now settled its litigation with the Attorneys General of New York and New Jersey, the company had planned a conference call/webcast with clients and the trade press to tout its PPM metrics and talk about the recent move to add more cell phone-only households. That was the plan, anyway. But audio gremlins kept Arbitron officials silent as 180 clients and reporters waited patiently. Now, the call/webcast has been rescheduled for Friday afternoon. But here are some highlights from the PPM metrics.

First off, the careful observer will notice new language in the Arbitron report resulting from the legal settlements. “PPM ratings are based on audience estimates and represent the opinion of Arbitron. PPM ratings, like all audience estimates however derived, should not be relied on for precise accuracy or precise representativeness of a demographic or radio market,” read the bold-faced paragraph.

With both the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods in the monthly report, Arbitron said to expect lower Designated Deliver Index (DDI) numbers, since in-tab rates historically drop during holiday periods.

Nevertheless, Arbitron said it hit its targets – and more. Across the 14 PPM markets, the Persons 6+ sample averaged 101%. Persons 18-54 was at 95%, delivering well over the 80% guarantee in all first year markets and the 90% guarantee for second year markets. In those second year markets, Philadelphia had an 18-54 DDI of 105 and Houston 103.

The only shortfall was that the 6+ in-tab rate for the Holiday book was 74%, while Arbitron had hoped for 75% despite the obstacles of dealing with changing patterns of panelists over the Christmas-New Year’s period.

Arbitron said it is continuing to work on quality improvements for its sample delivery. “Arbitron has recently noted that it has been over-delivering the sample for total Persons 6+ in an effort to boost sample size in key demographic groups. The company has implemented new initiatives designed to help it manage the panels closer to the target for Persons 12+, while continuing to achieve average sample benchmarks for young adults and Black and Hispanic persons. Arbitron currently anticipates that the PPM sample sizes for Persons 6+ will average closer to the target (100 DDI), and that the average DDI will be near 85 for Persons 18-34 within the next few months,” the company said.

Arbitron officials had also planned to discuss the recently announced initiative to add more cell phone-only households to its PPM sample in all markets. No doubt, we’ll hear more about that tomorrow – if the audio connection works.