PPM may have increased granularity to the numbers, but it’s hard to claim that PPM brought stability or precision to radio when ratings are too often based on one or two meters.
Now Nielsen intends to use PPM to measure local television promising, wait for it...greater stability, precision, and depth.
If you think you’ve got problems with PPM, take some solace that television broadcasters in 44 markets will soon feel our pain and then some.
While Nielsen’s plans may not seem to have a direct impact on radio, the move has implications that do not bode well for radio.
According to Nielsen’s press release:
The addition of PPM panelists to the local TV service will...provide local clients with ratings that reflect precise measurement of local viewing behaviors and insights, and boost ratings fidelity....
The inclusion of PPM measurement into the Nielsen Local TV service will bring additional stability and depth to local TV ratings. The integration will advance Nielsen's ability to provide clients more granular data while measuring consumers wherever they watch.
We hope TV people talk to radio people before they get too excited.
Radio people were given those same assurances as Arbitron rolled out PPM.
Radio may have been sold a bill of goods with PPM, but at least Arbitron replaced the diary with PPM in the top markets.
Nielsen isn’t even going to do that.
Nielsen apparently intends to combine data currently gathered via other means with PPM data, much like the company’s RADAR studies for network radio combine PPM numbers from large markets with diary numbers from small markets.
How’s that worked out for radio?
Radio’s RADAR was stripped of MRC accreditation in 2010 when Arbitron started combining PPM and diary data. The MRC has a problem combining different measurement methods.
Local television diary measurement is Media Rating Council accredited. However, the MRC is warning that local television too may lose MRC accreditation.
Every time the MRC refused accreditation to one of Arbitron’s new products executives quickly reaffirmed their commitment to accreditation:
We will continue to focus on obtaining and maintaining Media Rating Council accreditation in all of our PPM and
Diary markets. (Michael Skarzynski, CEO Arbitron 2009)
MRC accreditation for our PPM markets is a company-wide priority at Arbitron. (Gregg Lindner EVP Arbitron 2013)
Nielsen, in contrast, barely acknowledges the accreditation process, perhaps because so many of the company's products are not accredited.
In fact, no new radio PPM market has been accredited since Nielsen acquired Arbitron, and today nearly half of PPM markets remain unaccredited a decade after PPM launched.
Even the number one market in the nation—New York—is not accredited!
Nielsen pays lip-service to accreditation and then rolls out another unaccredited product.
If Nielsen is willing to compromise television ratings to save money how likely is it that Nielsen will invest to improve radio ratings?