Thursday, February 05, 2009

Does ARB Like Minority Listeners More Than Country Fans?

As Inside Radio's Frank Saxe reports Arbitron will knock on more doors to boost PPM compliance with young Hispanic and African-American panelist participation, Arbitron’s “Feet on the Street” in-person PPM training program will expand to ten markets by the end of April and I have been nervously watching country's PPM cumes drop in the markets where the program has been implemented.

Are the two developments related?

ARB chief researcher Bob Patchen
says New York and Philadelphia pilot tests showed a double-digit gain for minority in-tabs. “Improved in-tab rates also resulted in a large decrease in the turnover rate due to poor compliance.”

Houston, where the whole panel was placed by streeet teams two years ago to the MRC's pleasure will get a minority street team this month, with Chicago and Washington set for next month; Boston and Atlanta will be deployed in April. Dallas and San Francisco have already been added to the program. If country drops in those markets in the coming months, you have to wonder if 1 + 2 will equal 3.

Teams are made up of bilingual Arbitron representatives who knock on doors of newly-recruited (18-34) Hispanic and Black panelists. Their goal is to show respondents how PPM works and to encourage them to carry it every day from “rise to retire.” PPM Panel Relations director Nancy Weissman says the “most charming, engaging and persuasive bilinguals” have been hired to help panelists do a better job of carrying their meters. Her team targets panelists who have fallen below their goal during their first 28 days. Those agreeing to keep an appointment with Arbitron’s coach are given a gift card and then offered a bonus for improved performance in the four weeks following the visit. Patchen says, “We expect the net effect to be improved representation of ethnic young adults in our PPM panels.”

Wouldn't it be nice if MRC required ARB to hire some "charming, engaging and persuasive" country radio listener lookalikes to wander through the neighborhoods of our hot zips too? Or, do we have to band together at CRS and hire a lawyer or two as well and start lobbying our state AGs too?

One good sign to the contrary: ARB's Gary Marince will be doing two "country PD clinics" in Nashville next month, one at the A&O Pre-CRS Seminar and the other at the CRS the next day. Hopefully, he'll have some insights on this for us.

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