Arbitron Begins Second Phase Of PPM Market Trial

January 14, 2002

New York - Jan 14, 2002 - Arbitron announced that it has begun recruiting consumers for the planned second and final phase of the U.S. market trial of its new radio, television and cable TV audience measurement device, the Portable People Meter (PPM). Over the next 12 to 16 weeks, Arbitron expects to recruit a representative panel of 1,500 consumers, age 6 and older, in the Philadelphia Designated Market Area (DMA).

Results from the first phase of the test indicated that the PPM system is capturing TV viewing and radio listening that is not being measured by current audience measurement systems. This second phase is designed to give the industry its first direct look at individual station ratings for radio and television as well as individual cable network ratings generated by the Portable People Meter with audience estimates. These estimates will be compared with individual station and cable network ratings delivered by current audience measurement systems.

Arbitron expects that this second phase will provide an increased sample, which will provide the company with the needed momentum to continue its efforts to refine the quality and capabilities of the new audience measurement system.

As Arbitron begins the second phase of the PPM trial, eight TV stations, 38 radio stations and 22 cable networks serving the Philadelphia market are participating in the trial by encoding their signals using the latest generation of Arbitron encoders. Many of these outlets have been using Arbitron PPM encoders since August 2000.

Nielsen Media Research is providing financial support as well as its television survey research expertise in this trial of the Portable People Meter. Nielsen also has an option to join Arbitron in the commercial deployment of the Arbitron Portable People Meter in the United States.

The PPM is a pager-sized device that is carried by consumers. It automatically detects inaudible codes that TV stations, radio stations and cable networks embed in the audio portion of their programming using encoders provided by Arbitron. At the end of each day, the survey participants place the meters into base stations that recharge the devices and send the collected codes to Arbitron for tabulation. The meters are equipped with a motion sensor that allows Arbitron to monitor the compliance of the PPM survey participants every day; a quality-control feature unique to the Arbitron Portable People Meter in the realm of media research.

The successful first phase, conducted from December 2000 to November 2001, included three separate comparisons of total radio, TV and cable audiences generated by the PPM and existing audience measurement systems. Arbitron found that, compared to ratings reported by current TV and radio audience measurement systems, the Portable People Meter reports higher total-day average quarter-hour (AQH) estimates for consumer use of electronic media - radio, TV and cable. At its peak, 300 individuals were carrying Portable People Meters in the Wilmington, DE, radio metro, which is embedded within the Philadelphia DMA. From this test, Arbitron concluded that this first phase effectively demonstrated that:

  • Broadcasters could encode their audio with no adverse effect on the quality of their signal;
  • Arbitron could recruit a representative panel of consumers for the PPM system;
  • Consumers would regularly carry the meter, on average, 15 hours a day;
  • The total radio, TV and cable ratings indicated that the PPM system is capturing television viewing and radio listening that is not being measured by current audience measurement systems.

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