The company now known as Nielsen Audio has been using diaries to measure radio and television audiences for 55 years now and it's unquestionable that the memorability, partisanship and top-of-mindness which make a person remember a listening occasion long enough to write down when it started and when it stopped as well as the station's "call letters, dial setting or name" can be predicted accurately by measuring listener perceptions. However, this is prone to mistakes and forgetfulness, as well as subjectivity.
So, along came PPM, with its promise of more granular actual usage data of a panel that remains fairly consistent for several years.
A compelling case for moving to PPM has been driven by many factors - beyond the mere fact that today's audiences are increasingly unwilling to take time to fill out and send back printed diaries - not the least of which is that almost every single radio station's weekly cume audience almost doubles when actual usage is the measure rather than just the ability to be remembered.
PPM proves a long-held belief that Phantom Cume exists. Roughly half of radio usage is simply not measured by diaries because either the sample doesn't think that their usage was significant enough to take time to report or because they just didn't recall doing it.
Diary success is driven by something one major radio researcher terms "The Image Pyramid." The stronger the most important images, the better you do.
PPM panel success requires an even higher stakes game. Not only must you strongly hold all of the key brand images compared to the other radio stations and media choices available to your potential audience, you also have to execute in a granular level down to the minute.
You may be a person's favorite radio station, personality or program, but if at this very minute you tune them out and another station starts doing something they love, you lose.
Everything that was important yesterday is still crucial, but now minute-by-minute usage has increased the stakes.
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