Two Iconic Business Models That Failed — 2
Once a day, you insert your Portable People Meter into another gizmo that (1) recharges it and (2) sends the day’s listening record over the phone lines to Arbitron.
Presumably, this new business model allows not only for much more accurate information from fewer people, but gets this data to Arbitron quicker.
The Philadelphia Story
The beta site for the new PPM system was Philadelphia. And the results of the test show that radio audience measurement was shaken to the core.
For starters, my radio listening habits are not an anomaly. Like me, a lot of people not only dial-switched, but also had a tough time with the hand-written diaries. In a May 9, 2007, story in the Inquirer titled “Phila. dial-flippers churn radio ratings,” Michael Klein wrote:
The initial report, covering March 8 through April 4, showed little change in rankings among rock, oldies and news formats. However, the time spent listening sank dramatically; the weekly average among listeners ages 12 and older dropped from 20 hours last fall to 12-1/2. PPM indicated that Philadelphians listen not to two or three stations, as paper diaries said, but to five or six. This dial-switching has sent audience sizes soaring. Under diaries, only all-news KYW-AM (1060) claimed a weekly cumulative audience of greater than one million people. Now, according to PPM figures, nine stations had a “cume” of more than one million. Light rock WBEB-FM (101.1) had the largest cumulative audience - just over two million people - followed by classic hits WOGL-FM (98.1), KYW and classic rock WMGK-FM (102.9).
Blaise Howard, general manager of Philadelphia’s WBEB-FM, called the new system “a complete paradigm shift in the way radio is measured.”
Arbitron’s Thom Mocarsky told Alex Mindlin of The New York Times that the changes reflected a refinement in the data.