Arbitron has unveiled a new phase in their PPM technology which extends measurement onto a wireless platform. Called the PPM 360, it lays the foundation for the development of future applications for the patented, proprietary PPM technology on multiple consumer devices.
“This innovative approach further liberates audience measurement from the home and enables media, brands and marketers to follow the mobile consumer more closely – which is particularly important for brands appealing to younger demographics,” said William Kerr, President and CEO, Arbitron. “This platform is designed to be an integrated component to our existing radio services and drive future innovation for media measurement.”
The Arbitron Portable People Meter technology tracks consumers’ exposure to media and entertainment, including broadcast, cable and satellite television; terrestrial, satellite and online radio as well as cinema advertising and many types of place-based digital media.
Arbitron has had the capability to detect streaming listening all along with their PPM technology. Thusfar, they have chosen to only use that technology to measure listening to broadcast stations who are adhering to a 100% simulcast rule (and are therefore not monetizing their online ads except as add-ons to broadcast campaigns). It’s basically sidelined Arbitron as a viable option for streaming radio audience measurement.
Arbitron used to measure Internet radio station audiences, first with their own server based technology, then with the acquisition of Measurecast. They eventually shuttered Measurecast and opted for a partnership with comScore, using comScore data and producing audience estimates that were panel based and inadequate for measuring most individual stations.
The PPM 360 press release hints at an interest in extending audience measurement more seriously to new media, and with their already existing capabilities, streaming radio audience measurement is a natural place for Arbitron to head. I’m staying tuned…
As discussed yesterday, PPM data is available on AM/FM stations that are encoding and meeting certain standards. Arbitron will measure AM/FM Streaming stations in either one of two ways – if the station is simulcasting 100% of the content, including commercials, then the data measured can be combined with broadcast station numbers as one audience. PPM measures in-market listening, so it makes sense that stations that are completely simulcasting on the internet should get credit for the streaming portion of that audience.
If the station is not simulcasting 100% of its audience – and is instead inserting different commercials on the stream (or different content for that matter) – then its stream is measured as a standalone station and must meet the minimum reporting standard of .495 for a weekly cume rating in order to show up in the report.
Should stations simulcast their streams?
This raises an interesting dilemna for broadcasters who are streaming. Should they simulcast their streams to earn additional credit in their Arbitron market report, or sell and insert different commercials on the stream? Some broadcasters are choosing to simulcast, hoping that credit for their online audience will lessen the ratings drop they’ll see as a result of PPM measurement. Knowledgeable sources such as RAIN’s Kurt Hanson agree – it’s unlikely that any station’s online audience will at this point significantly increase its market share.
What’s best for advertisers?
More importantly, Internet radio’s best asset is that the audience is online – and can react to an online call to action in an ad, while traditional radio commercials – often reaching people in cars – mention phone numbers or physical addresses or even texting as a call to action. Accountability and Return on Investment are so critical to advertisers these days. Broadcasters of AM/FM stations should develop a streaming business model that encourages advertisers to create ads for online listeners.