Arbitron Plans PPM Improvements


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Columbia, MD - Mar 2, 2009 - Arbitron is extending to all PPM markets a number of the key methodological enhancements that the company committed to in its agreements with the Attorneys General of New Jersey, New York and Maryland. While there is variation in metrics and milestones based on particulars of the local market environments, all of Arbitron PPM customers are in the process of receiving enhancements to the PPM methodology in four key areas: Cell-phone-only sampling, address-based sampling, in-tab compliance rates and response metrics (Sample Performance Indicator or SPI).

In addition, Arbitron says customers in all PPM markets will be seeing an increase in transparency for more of the sample metrics of in the Arbitron PPM survey research, including the distribution of sample by Zip Code and by cell phone status. Arbitron will also continue to share with all customers any current and future findings of the impact of nonresponse on the PPM service.

Cell-phone-only sampling
Arbitron will increase the sample target for cell-phone-only households in all PPM markets to an average of 15 percent by year-end 2010. In an interim step, the current target of 7.5 percent will be raised to 12.5 percent in PPM markets by year-end 2009. (Monthly milestones within each year will vary by market.)

Address-based sampling
In keeping with the commitment to increase cell-phone-only sample in all markets, Arbitron is committing to the use of address-based sampling technique for at least 10 percent of its sampling efforts by late 2009 and for at least 15 percent of its recruitment efforts by the end of December 2010 in all PPM markets. (Monthly milestones within each year will vary by market.) Arbitron has already begun using addressed-based sampling for cell-phone-only households in PPM markets.

Daily In-Tab Compliance efforts
Arbitron is applying its average-daily in-tab benchmark of 75 percent of installed sample to all PPM markets. Arbitron is currently implementing in all PPM markets many of the techniques and methods that Arbitron is using to minimize differential compliance rates in order to fulfill the terms of the New Jersey, New York and Maryland agreements. (Specific programs and techniques are being applied based on an individual market’s in-tab performance.)

Response metric efforts
The PPM markets that were first recruited in 2008 have received the benefit of the latest response rate and compliance programs starting with the very first recruitment contact. In these markets, SPI metrics are already above the commitments to New Jersey, New York and Maryland.

Arbitron commitments to greater transparency
The company’s commitments to New Jersey, New York and Maryland include greater transparency in terms of information regarding PPM sample composition and other metrics of PPM services. Arbitron intends to provide this additional information in all PPM markets that many of its clients have indicated they would find useful and would help their understanding the strengths and limitations of PPM samples.

Sample distribution by Zip Code
Arbitron is providing in all PPM markets installation and in-tabulation data by individual Zip Code, along with market population data for Blacks, Hispanics and others (non-Black or non-Hispanic) for each individual zip code.

Sample composition by cell-phone-only status
Arbitron will continue its practice of publishing the percentages of installed and In-Tab cell-phone-only sample in the front of all monthly Arbitron electronic PPM market reports.

PPM response studies
The company intends for all PPM markets to benefit from the findings of a nonresponse bias study that it will conduct in the New York market by July 15, 2009. Should the findings indicate any measurable statistical bias, Arbitron will inform all clients of the  identified sources of that statistical bias in the PPM methodology and will take reasonable measures to address those sources.

Additional initiatives in the continuous improvement programs
The option to see the current composition of the Hispanic sample by country of origin has been a topic of discussion with Hispanic broadcasters. Arbitron has conducted a test of three markets selected by the Spanish Radio Association (Houston-Galveston, Los Angeles and New York) to determine if asking the country of origin question during one of the regular status calls to PPM households would have an adverse impact on the PPM sample. Early results from the test are indicating that Arbitron would be able to collect and track country of origin without affecting the quality of the sample. The decision about moving forward with country-of-origin tracking is pending a full analysis of the test.

The Spanish Radio Association and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters said in a joint statement that the actions mandated by the state settlements are necessary but not sufficient if Arbitron is truly committed to transforming the PPM into a reliable audience measurement service.  Both groups have been at the core of the opposition to the PPM saying that the system does not accurately represent the listening habits of their constituent groups, which will affect the ad revenues of these stations because of less-than-accurate ratings reports.




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