R.I.P – P.P.M.


At this thanksgiving time we should all be thankful the PPM train is leaving the station and hopefully no one is aboard except the progeny Apollo and Prism, as it is out bound to a familiar destination of no return on investment.  I am sure some will suffer PPPMD, post partum people meter depression. It was not that the PPM was a concept far ahead of its time; rather it was a concept whose time had past, more comfortable in the era of white belts, knit pants, pocket protectors and supply side economics.

However the concept was a great success if you were love marked by the vampiric gods of technology. If you believe that technology is the end in it self, then PPM’s promise was all you needed to hear to become one of the chosen. The power and confidence of blind faith, where the new math of 70 GRPS can equal 100 GRPS, enabled mid level management zealots of the radio industry to high jack a whole industry by invoking the chant of “it’s the future, it’s the cure, it will deliver us from the sins of diaries, the PPM is the sign and the signal of the coming of the digital industry”.

There were no questions from the zealots, does it work, how does it work and have we heard about any miracles.  No, this would be heresy. It is merely enough that a promise was announced. Of course it had it missionaries and there was corporate tithing blindly made, yet it was enough to legitimate PPM to those who live under the sign of advertising revenue.  Those who challenge the authority and the promise of PPM were rebuked by the zombie zealots of agencies issuing bewaring responses to the industry — “you will be sorry”.

The electric Koolaide has been passed and its time for sobriety:

1. Where were and are the consumer centric advocates of holistic measurement to hold the PPM promise accountable???

2. Does merchantability count in the industry where products should work before they are sold? At least should not the PPM carry a surgeon general’s warning that smoking the promise IS hazardous to your business merchantability? It certainly has not been lost on the attorney general of California regarding other unsafe toys.

3. How does the Electronic Ratings Media Council account for the anointment of the PPM? Is it not the watchdog on accountability?

4. Will the radio industry jump aboard and ride the funeral train ……?
Advertisers want consumers, not signals.  Advertisers also want consumers to buy their products.  Advertisers want ROI and that means consumers who listen and buy.  PPM has no listeners, just exposures.  Ratings have out lived their usefulness and they are not needed for consumer centricity and accountability.  I would suggest a call to ACTION in the name of freedom to choose consumer centricity, create the right measures for the industry and work directly with the advertisers.  Maybe it is time to rethink this whole ratings thing and go about the business of selling to consumers rather than buying ratings and hoping a consumer gets caught in the crossfire…But listen, is it the death knell?  No, it’s the whispers of advertising mavens sipping cocktails at yet another love marked soiree, walking to and fro singing the praises of the coming of yet another digital-angelo.  

Joe Pilotta

Vice President