PPM sample size increase slowed down a bit by Arbitron


Broadcasters had been urging Arbitron for some time to increase the size of panels in its Portable People Meter (PPM) markets and a few months ago the company agreed to a 10% increase in the key 18-54 demo for 2010. But the company announced Friday that the deadline has now been moved to mid-2011, with a lesser increase, 8%, by the end of 2010.

Speaking to RBR-TVBR on Friday, Arbitron Sr. VP of Marketing Bill Rose noted that the total increase will still be the same – 10% – but it will come six months later than previously planned. And while he understands that some broadcasters will be disappointed, the company is also working to increase its cell-phone-only (CPO) household representation in PPM panels, as well as diary markets, and Arbitron has to decide how best to allocate its resources to get all that done.

“We’re trying to address the quality of our sample overall. And certainly the [PPM sample size] increase is an important element of that, but it’s not the only one. With the increase in the cell-phone-only population, we felt we do our clients well, and do well by our sample quality, by accelerating our plans for increasing our cell phone only sample,” Rose said. He emphasized, though, that Arbitron is still committed to getting the PPM sample up by 10% – with no increase in cost to subscribers – but completed six months later.

The Chairman of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council chose to look on the bright side. “The positive is Arbitron said they would increase the sample targets by 10% and they are reaffirming that commitment. While there is a difference of six months, Arbitron is making it happen and we are getting our full 10% increase in the money demo of 18-54, said Lisa Decker, SVP/Market Manager for CBS Radio Seattle/Portland in an email to RBR-TVBR.

Arbitron had announced in August that it was increasing its CPO targets for both PPM and diary markets. Those targets stand. What has changed now is the implementation schedule for increasing PPM panel sizes.

The details were spelled out Friday by Arbitron:

The Company now plans to increase sample targets by ten percent in the important advertising demographic of Persons aged 18-54 by mid-year 2011.

Arbitron has designed these sample improvements to address the needs of broadcasters and advertisers. Using a phased approach, the Company plans to: 
— Increase its overall sample targets for Persons aged 18-54 by eight percent by year-end 2010;
— Increase its overall sample targets for Persons aged 18-54 by an additional two percent by mid-year 2011, representing an aggregate increase of 10 percent by mid-year 2011; 
The Company also plans to maintain a minimum sample target of at least 750 active panel participants aged 6 and older by mid-year 2011 in substantially all PPM markets.  Arbitron plans to increase the minimum sample target for Memphis and Providence to 675 by year end 2011.* [See note below]
Arbitron plans to:
— Increase its minimum local market sample targets for Persons aged 6+ to 700 active panel participants by year-end 2010, and;
— Increase the minimum local market sample targets for Persons aged 6+ to 750 active panel participants by mid-year 2011.
[Note] * Minimum sample targets for Persons 6+ in Memphis and Providence, will be increased to 630 by year end 2010 and 675 by year end 2011. Clients in these two markets did not elect to take advantage of a previously offered sample increase proposal.  Both markets will have options to increase minimum sample targets further.
The total PPM sample across all markets is expected to increase by approximately 10 percent in the aggregate for Persons aged 12+ by mid-year 2011 as a result of this plan.

RBR-TVBR observation: Certainly you’d like to have both as quickly as possible, but which is more important to you: more cell phone only households in the mix or a larger overall sample? Post your comments on RBR.com.