Friday, February 09, 2007

I Am Not Surprised

Inside Radio's bulletin: A second bombshell at the RAB - The Media Audit/Ipsos get millions from broadcasters for a full-market test in Houston.

I think this is all about $$. Arbitron had to know this was coming, even as they got MRC Accreditation for PPM last week in at least the market PPM is online right now, given their insistence on a 65% rate increase for the Portable People Meter. I still don't understand why they've haven't been pricing for market share while they had the exclusive.

Now, it gets very interesting. It would be great to see, as good as ARB and its people are, some real competition in the radio ratings business! Unfortunately, it means at least one more year of uncertainty, but (fortunately) we've all become very good (of necessity!!) at adaptation, flexibility and change in the business climate of this last decade...

1 comment:

--josh-- said...

Given historical rate increases in TV audience measurement when a market goes from diary to meters, perhaps Arbitron's +65% is, in fact, aggressive pricing. The context for radio is existing diary rates, so of course +65% seems steep; but other metered media probably provide a better context for evaluation.

While TMA has made claims about metered measurement at diary rates, in fact they cannot know what their operating costs will ultimately be. In live tests they will discover how their methodology and technology are functioning; they wiill start to get a handle on things like user carry time and compliance. And only then will they start to get a handle on how much the modifications to methodology will end up costing, in order to produce the high quality estimates the industry demands.

For example, the PPM device provides feedback on user carry time; a cell phone has no means of providing similar feedback, making user compliance an unknown, and the costs lurking in compliance management a bigger unknown.

This is not to disparage the good folks at TMA. But Arbitron has been workling with metered radio measurement since 1992, and with metered measurement in general since 1959. While not all that institutional knowledge remains relevant, I think it would be unwise to dismiss the tangible lead time Arbitron has in applying meter technology within a high quality methodology to generate radio listening estimates.