PPM hits targets in March


Arbitron execs reviewed March PPM data Friday, assuring clients that the drop in 18-24 sample numbers is only temporary, due to the focus on increasing 25-34 performance. The ratings company also says panel build-up is right on track for PPM markets firing up later this year.

Once again, the live and pre-currency PPM markets were all above their DDI benchmarks 6+ and above Arbitron’s 18-54 guarantee – so there’s not yet been any rebate payout by Arbitron for missing that guaranteed delivery. Sr. VP of Marketing Bill Rose also noted that the company hit 42 of 46 of its 18-34 age cell benchmarks across the eight markets in March. The problem market continues to be Nassau-Suffolk, the Long Island embedded market within the New York Metro.

There has been broadcaster concern about 18-24 sample performance dropping as Arbitron focuses on improving 25-34 as part two of its effort to get the entire 18-34 demo up to par. Arbitron Chief Research Officer Bob Patchen showed the numbers for Philadelphia, where the 18-24 in-tab went from 92% of target in 80% in March. “We’re pretty confident it’s going to be temporary,” he said, noting that both trends are now moving up.

Some broadcasters have been urging Arbitron to jettison 6-11 year olds from PPM panels, but Natalie Conner, VP/GM of Beasley’s WXTU-FM Philadelphia – this month’s conference call guest to describe real life with PPM – is a big fan of having 6-11 numbers, saying her Country station has used it to pitch its “family” appeal to advertisers.

After using PPM data for real world sales for over a year, Conner was asked what she might have done differently. She said she wished her station had gone out to talk with ad planners along with Arbitron representatives before the PPM launch to explain the coming change. Conner said some buyers were handcuffed by their budgets when the new math of PPM began. But despite the higher CPPs, Conner said WXTU has fared financially better under PPM, although the overall Philadelphia market is down in the current economic downturn.

Next month’s PPM call guest star will be CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason, with the call set for 10:00 am ET on Thursday, May 22, a day after the April PPM data is released.

Also, Arbitron Radio Advisory Council Chairman Chuck DuCoty, COO of NRG Media, announced that the first client conference call for Arbitron diary subscribers will be June 18th at 2:00 pm ET. Those diary calls are to be conducted quarterly.

RBR/TVBR observation: Broadcasters are still wondering why Arbitron has to lose 18-24 households to add 24-34 households. Few broadcasters are more up on ratings methodology that Emmis Radio President Rick Cummings and he was still asking that question on Friday. Bob Patchen’s explanation was that there are a finite number of households in each PPM panel and randomly dropping households without a 24-34 year old member means that some 18-24 households will be taken out. In fact, it is unusual to find a single household with people from both of those demos. But Arbitron has been tweaking its recruitment methods and Patchen says that should improve the balance for both demos going forward.

If your market is getting geared up for PPM, you may not have to wait long for a sneak peek at local data. PPM panels for San Francisco and the embedded San Jose market are essentially finished, so KGO-AM GM Jack Swanson suggested that folks in his market get to see data on a “test basis.” Bill Rose said Arbitron is looking at that idea, but first wants to be sure of its confidence in the data for each new market. But a decision on early test release of data could come after Arbitron makes an official announcement in June whether it is ready to resume its PPM rollout, as targeted, in September.