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Updates to Arbitron Radio Diary Planned

‘Project Leapfrog’ plans web/mobile-based diary platform

While Arbitron’s intentions to update its Portable People Meter get a lot of play, the audience research firm also has plans to go beyond paper and pencil diaries.

“Project Leapfrog” is a week-long web/mobile-based survey with which Arbitron is experimenting.

Some history: The company tested an e-diary in the mid-2000s, giving instructions to survey participants that stated they could either fill out the paper diary or go online and fill out a form. That effort confused some diary-keepers, according to Arbitron SVP Marketing Bill Rose, who says many participants chose to do nothing. With response rates less than hoped for, Arbitron quickly pulled the e-diary.

The name “Leapfrog” is meant to convey that the company’s latest web/mobile approach is an “entirely new” effort. This time, said Rose, web/mobile participation would be the first choice offered to survey participants, not an option. The audience research firm recently updated its Radio Advisory Council on the progress of the experimental project.

Council rep Tom Skinner said the group has encouraged Arbitron to share more about the project with radio clients when possible. “We don’t want to overhype it. We’ve got a lot of questions,” he told reporters, but said the council remains cautiously optimistic about Leapfrog. “We think they’re onto something.”

The council also discussed progress of Arbitron’s new-generation Portable People Meter, PPM360.

Rose said Arbitron plans to implement the new device sometime this year. The smaller and more slim device doesn’t need to be physically docked each night to send data back to Arbitron; the device will be able to send that data wirelessly. Rose said the company is eager to get PPM360 into the field and plans to release more details publicly later.

— Leslie Stimson

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