Not revealed at the fall Radio Show in the Arbitron and Jacobs Media "Goin' Mobile" presentation I sat through was the research conducted involving Arbitron's next-gen Portable People Meter, called PPM360. "Goin' Mobile" is an ethnographic study that looked at how consumers use smartphones.
But during the Arbitron meeting here in Baltimore this week, Jacobs Media head Fred Jacobs said that the basic design of the new meter, smaller than the current model, went over well. As part of the study, meters for 16 out of the 18 participants were replaced with the new meter.
"We asked what it was like to carry the meter. This may be the first and last time" this information is shown, he said, because Arbitron is using the results as part of proprietary research.
One of the general themes that emerged from most of the participants age 18–49 was that they forgot they were carrying the new meter, which Arbitron has designed to enable PPM panelists to send their audience data back to Arbitron wirelessly, rather than needing to dock it each night.
In several video clips, participants said the question they were asked the most about the device was whether it was a pager. Some said that it was so small they worried about dropping it. Some of the male participants were accustomed to carrying a pager and treated the meter the same, perhaps clipping it to their belt. Women clipped it to their purse or somewhere on their clothing.
Some younger participants wondered if it could be made smaller and "cooler" looking. One young female said a girlfriend asked her: "Seriously? You have a beeper? Seriously?" Then she rolled her eyes, suggesting Arbitron still has some work to do on the coolness of the meter design.
Participants also suggested that Arbitron text them to remind them to wear the meter each morning before they leave the house.
We've reported Arbitron has begun beta-testing the new units and hopes to place some in the field in 2011.