The scary subhead to yesterday’s story in the Wall Street Journal was "Philly Stations Cut Ad Rates." The story actually quotes an ad buyer as saying radio stations will eventually be able to raise rates under Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) because advertisers will have more faith in electronic ratings data than diaries, but she told the WSJ that some stations have cut rates in Philadelphia because they dropped in the rankings under PPM. What’s not mentioned in the WSJ article is anything about the current turmoil over in-tab rates, with Arbitron now committing to a money-back guarantee if it doesn’t hit PPM sample size targets (9/6/07 RBR #174).
RBR/TVBR observation: It’s not likely that people in radio who’ve been following PPM issues for several years now will find anything new in the WSJ article, but for some executives at companies which advertise on radio, it may be the first they’ve heard of a change in ratings systems. It notes that PPM has been showing generally higher ratings for Rock and Classic Rock stations and lower for Urban formats. "Perhaps most important, radio stations typically pull in a bigger audience than they thought, but the audience spends less time listening to them," the WSJ reported. We just hope that those company execs read the entire article and didn’t stop at the "Philly Stations Cut Ad Rates" line.