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Enhanced CBET Will Change PPM Ratings — Now What?

Research consultants consider the programming and advertiser implications for stations

If Personal People Meter data has been undercounting audiences since its debut in 2007 — as implied by Nielsen’s recent update announcements — and if its Enhanced Critical Band Encoding Technology encoding algorithm corrects that in limited tests — as appears to be the case — what does this mean for stations’ future programming choices?

“We all know real listening didn’t change from the final Wednesday of Diary measurement to the first Thursday of PPM measurement,” company partners Marc Greenspan and Charlie Sislen write today in a blog post at consulting firm Research Director Inc., recalling the earlier roll-out of PPM. That didn’t stop stations from making programming adjustments in an effort to maximize ratings. The assumption was that the audience reported in the diary was inflated, so it must be that more talk drove listeners away — despite perceptual research that showed that personalities are one of the reasons listeners tune into their favorite stations.

So, the researchers ask, “How much did the industry hurt itself by believing the PPM data and minimizing the personalities?” And, he wonders, “More importantly, is it fixable and can we get the audiences back that were driven away when we literally removed the personality of the medium?”

With the rollout of Enhanced CBET from Nielsen, many stations should see an average AQH Persons increase, he says. But what does this mean for stations’ relationships with advertisers?

Greenspan counsels stations first to keep an “eye on how Enhanced CBET impacts your ratings” and remember that advertisers’ “cost per points should not change.”

Next, he says that stations should be prepared to answer questions about the ratings changes and to remember that “advertisers did not adjust cost per points when Arbitron rolled out PPM” and to emphasize to those who ask that “broadcasters just want to get paid for what we are delivering.”

The last step he says is to remember to take steps to get credit for your entire listening audience, based on the new knowledge that some content encodes better than others.

Read the “What Enhanced CBET Means to Broadcasters” post.

You can also read what Research Director wrote earlier this year about Voltair.