I have been seeing this movie a lot in the last year: station is disappointed in its initial PPM rank, so they commission a major radio research company to do a perceptual to see what's wrong.
The research comes back that the station is very healthy and pronounces that the station's brand is strong but the problem is "execution."
Could this be because the researcher is asking the same questions in the same ways which were so predictive of success in diaries, weekly cume and favorite station + importance of parameters + key image ownership?
Shouldn't we be asking in the major markets where PPM is going to be currency in 2010 about daily cume? Daily occasions? Key personalities and programming elements which drive listeners to use a station more days per week and more times per day?
In the U.S., Arbitron is planning a first quarter update of PD Advantage web and promises new reports to be added. Hopefully, one of them will be a day by day report of how many panelists use each competitive station each day of the week and how many times per day for each daypart as well as how long the exposure is for each of them.
Sadly, from my perspective, Canada's BBM is another story completely.
Their InfoSys software (a report from it is pictured) was developed in Spain (for TV, not radio). I have as yet to encounter a Canadian programmer who even fully understands how it works, let alone how to begin to extract info like ARB's current Vital Signs report, which has been available to both diary and PPM stations in PD Advantage software for years now, let alone anything more sophisticated to assist programmers in understanding what they need to do to grow their shares.
Hopefully, BBM includes a New Years resolution to look very hard at the Programmer's Package ARB provides online each month and come up with something as helpful.
Also, would it be wise to reconsider the decision to show only "average minute audience," rather than "average quarter hour," the standard for comparison we've all used since radio audience measurement was created? Not only is BBM comparing apples to oranges in its diary reports vs PPM studies, but audience sizes appear to go down. Who thought that would be a good idea?
We all have a lot to gain if radio programmers can quickly understand the differences between ratings driven by memorablity and behavioral research.
I wish ARB and BBM would both step up their efforts to help stations figure out what's going on and what they need to do about it.
So far, I'd say that ARB is running faster in the right direction than either BBM or radio's longtime perceptual researchers across North America, but we all have plenty of catching up to do if we expect advertisers to see us as "programming experts," let alone our ratings as credible and useful.
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