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This is the fourth installment in a series on electronic measurement for radio, digital audio platforms, and advertising agencies.
The Portable People Meter (PPM) is Arbitron’s attempt to modernize the radio
ratings system with electronic measurement. This installment in our
series will explain how information is transmitted through the PPM. It
will also correct a misconception about morning radio, expectations for and removal of panels, and accreditation.
Uploading and Editing
Sometime between the docking of the PPM, and the household hub
collection of daily data, there is an upload to a central computer at Arbitron.
The uploading can occur anytime up until 4 AM. Once the information
reaches Arbitron, there is an editing process of coded audio, to
properly assign credit to individual radio stations. Remember, stations
only get listening credit from an individual panelist if the person
meets the minimum motion requirement: a panelist aged six to seventeen
has to carry the meter at least five hours a day; eighteen and over,
it's eight hours a day.
There has been some confusion about morning radio
measurement; many have said that much of the listening is not being
reflected in ratings. Here is an example to clarify how it actually
works. The alarm clock radio goes off at 6 AM and the meter, still
docked, begins to record the coded audio. Though the panelist
does not indicate motion until 7:30 AM, all the recorded exposure prior
to motion will count for ratings, as long as the panelist meets the
minimum exposure requirements for the Arbitron broadcast day of 4 AM to
For a family to remain a Portable People Meter
survey household, participants must maintain a solid record of
compliance with the rules. If successful, a household could conceivably
serve the two-year panel maximum. However, if any one member of a
family does not regularly carry the meter, the entire household will be
dropped from the panel and replaced.
Causes for Panel Removal
There are numerous reasons for a household to be removed as
panelists from the PPM survey. Reasons include a family's request for
removal, a move out of the metro area, constant disconnections of the home phone (or cell phone, in a cell phone only family) by the phone company, a radio station employing a member of the household, and others that may yet be determined. Panel relations specialists stay in communication with survey households to encourage proper usage and answer any questions.
Arbitron’s guinea pig markets for test marketing Portable People Meters
have been Philadelphia and Houston, the latter being the first city to receive accreditation from the Media Ratings council (MRC). It is the only market combining telephone solicitation with addressed based, person to person, door-to-door canvassing. About one third of Houston panelists are still recruited using this method. Recently, Riverside-San Bernardino was awarded accreditation, like other PPM cities, only utilizes phone recruitment, referred to as “Radio First,” for panel selection. Apparently, due to cost factors, Arbitron has no plans to mirror Houston.
The next installment in this series will address concerns of the
broadcast industry with political pressure, legal issues, and