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Arbitron to Pitch PPM to CEOs

Arbitron to Pitch PPM to CEOs

Realizing that the cost and measurement issues of PPM versus diaries are beginning to overshadow all talks about the new ratings technology now in trials, Arbitron President/CEO Steve Morris plans to meet with radio group CEOs next week. Morris told analysts this week the ratings firm recognizes that while the switch to PPM wouldn’t be such a change for TV or cable, for radio, it’s huge.
“Radio has been measured by diaries for 30 years,” said Morris, while TV and cable have been using meters for ratings measurement for 20+ years, which makes TV and cable “more comfortable with this change”.
The radio groups “have legitimate issues,” he said. “We believe the PPM has the potential to bring real change to radio…and it’s up to us to make that case.”
Morris said Arbitron is in parallel discussions with Nielsen Media Research about whether to form a joint venture to commercialize the PPM. They’re discussing how a business deal would be structured as well as research issues.
He said there are about 20 areas so far the two companies don’t agree on. Nielsen won’t commit, he said, until it’s convinced its customers want the PPM and both firms settle on methodology issues.
The Arbitron Radio Advisory Council has asked the ratings company to do another PPM trial in Philly, and one in a different market that includes Hispanic listeners.
When asked how such an extension might affect commercialization of PPM, Morris said, “If radio wants to go slower, that’s OK. Personal, passive, portable, are the right descriptors for measurement in the future.”
He couldn’t answer whether the company was prepared to go ahead with a TV/Cable PPM if radio rejects it, only to say, “It’s possible”. Arbitron has been contemplating developing the PPM for non-broadcast use in the U.S. if Nielsen or radio won’t go along.