Sunday, December 06, 2009

The 2010 U.S. Census Count Will Drive Your Ratings For The Next Decade

Writer Lornet Turnbull really got me to thinking of THE question to talk about at this week's Arbitron Fly-In, arguably even more fundamental than sample sizes, diary measurement or PPM:

Where will you be on Census Day — living in your RV, couch surfing at your friends', squatting in your parents' basement? The U.S. Census Bureau is preparing to count the more than 308 million men, women and children living in the country April 1, 2010. With just 10 questions on next year's form, this would seem simple enough. Yet the count is likely to be not just the most costly but possibly one of the most difficult ever staged.

"We are studying a population that is harder to count than the 2000 population," -census director Robert Groves

Both ARB and Nielsen need reliable census data if we are to hope that their audience estimates in the next ten years will be accurate and representative.

What are we all going to do if any group in the general population feels that the 2010 Census is suspect?

Future budgets .. from advertising to even federal revenue sharing, depend on getting it right!


Lewis Lazare Chicago Sun Times said...

Some Chicago radio executives wondering whether Arbitron, to avert any unwanted action by Congress, might in recent months have been reallocating its portable people meters -- and/or weighting the data from those meters -- in a way that skews the results more heavily in favor of minority-oriented formats.

Arbitron was quick to defend itself Thursday. "We're absolutely not doing anything different -- our people meters are distributed to reflect the census data in each market," insisted Deirdre Blackwood, Arbitron senior vice president of corporate communications. "We have not made any changes in the way we weight the data from those meters."

Derrick Brown, director of urban programming at Clear Channel Radio Chicago, also quickly dismissed any connection between the congressional hearings involving Arbitron and WVAZ's dominant performance in the Arbitron November book.

Instead, Brown pointed to Steve Harvey's significant investment in developing his Chicago audience base as a major reason for WVAZ's strong showing. "Steve was here twice in recent weeks, and we have invested more in marketing his show," explained Brown. Harvey catapulted to third place in the November Arbitron book from a tie for eighth place in October among adults 25 to 54.

joeknapp said...

I'm detecting a little, " depends on what the meaning of 'is' is..." in Arbitron's statements. "We're absolutely not doing anything different." Does this mean you've always been doing something wrong -- and you're still doing it? Also, when someone adds unnecessary emphasis words like, "absolutely" and "to be perfectly honest," it can mean they're not being honest with you -- or they haven't been honest with you in the past. Finally, "We have not made any changes..." means nothing if they've been doing things wrong in the past. You NEED to make changes if your methodology is flawed in order to correct it. Why does Arbitron need to keep ANY secrets? Congress should demand they disclose every aspect of their methodology to the public as a matter of discovery. We can clearly see that there were major shifts in measured audience habits from diary to meter, and now we need to find out why. Was the diary wrong? Is the meter wrong? Or, are both wrong?

I'm not putting a high probability on the government getting the next Census correct, by the way. They can't seem to do anything right these days...