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Pierre Bouvard
President, Sales and Marketing
Arbitron, Inc.

ppmThe rollout of Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) may just be the pivotal turning point the radio industry needs to help boost declining sales. In fact, since its introduction, PPM data shows that radio delivers far more reach than previously thought, which contradicts the industry’s long-held belief that frequency rules the ratings. As PPM continues its rollout to the top ten markets in 2008, advertisers can look to gain further evidence supporting that this new measurement device just might fulfill radio’s need for accountability.

The device automatically measures a panelist’s radio listening and even identifies breaks and changes in listening for more accurate results. This is because PPM follows the media consumer and is based on a person’s measurement as opposed to being household based like many other devices. Due to a clever motion detector in the PPM, Arbitron knows minute-by-minute if the respondent is carrying their meter. Every day, Arbitron gets detailed compliance data on PPM respondents. In the history of advertising, it is the only media measurement service where you actually know if the respondents did exactly what was asked of them.

Here is how PPM stacks up against the standard diary method:

The Radio Diary The Portable People Meter
  • Person records listening
  • Person carries meter for about for one week. 9 months.
  • 4 Reports a year.
  • 13 reports a year.
  • Diary records listening recall.
  • PPM tracks actual station exposure.
  • Average diary has 3.2 stations
  • Average PPM records 6 per week.. stations per week
  • Diary reports 70% of listening
  • PPM reports 70% of listening to one station. to one station.

If advertising in the top 10 markets, your 2008 media plans will need to account for two kinds of radio gross ratings points: “DIARY GRP” and “PPM GRP”. Cost per ratings points will be either ‘DIARY CPP” or “PPM CPP”. Media plans will need to assume this conversion from diary to meters. Just as 10 kilometers translates to 6.2 miles, 100 Radio Diary GRP’s equates to about 70 Radio PPM GRP’s. Assuming the same schedule and budget, PPM CPP’s will be about 40% higher than Diary CPP’s. For advertisers, PPM brings to the table:

  1. Enhanced credibility. The PPM automatically detects the stations that panelists are exposed to, stores the information and sends it back to Arbitron each night.
  2. Faster data makes radio more relevant. With 13 reports a year, PPM results are available within weeks following measurement.
  3. More stable survey-to-survey trends.
  4. PPM measures a new demographic for radio: Children 6-11.
  5. PPM measures all radio platforms: Online streaming, HD Radio multicasts.
  6. Radio commercial audiences are much larger than suspected. Radio holds more than 92% of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks.
  7. Working persons drive radio listening. PPM shows that working persons are the core of radio’s listening base. Full-time employed Americans represent about half the population but nearly three quarters of the radio listening audience!
  8. Radio is a powerful method to reach African-Americans and Hispanics. PPM shows consumers have strong loyalty and high time spent listening to Urban and Spanish formatted stations.

Time will only tell if radio now has the most accountable media measurement service. But, one thing is for sure, radio now has a new measurement scale that enhances confidence in the radio ratings. Welcome to Radio in 2008! Exciting new measurement. Impressive accountability.

PPM will hit the top ten radio markets in 2008:

  • Philadelphia and Houston are already commercialized.
  • New York launches Fall 2007.
  • Chicago and Los Angeles Q1 2008.
  • San Francisco/San Jose and Dallas-Ft. Worth Mid 2008.
  • Washington DC., Atlanta, Boston Q4 2008.

Radio markets 11-50 roll out in 2009 and 2010.

Media Watchdog