Arbitron accelerates cell phone-only sampling for diary markets


Arbitron customers in some diary markets won’t have to wait until the Fall survey next year to get what PPM markets already have – people in the local sample from homes with only cellular telephones. 50 diary markets will have cell phone-only sampling for the Spring 2009 survey, six months ahead of the previous plan. Also, Arbitron has announced an 18-54 sample quality benchmark for diary markets, beginning with the Fall 2008 survey going on now. That benchmark is 80% of the perfect sample size for the demo.

“The Radio Advisory Council and the Diary Market Owner Operator Caucus, which have been working closely with Arbitron on these matters since last year, deserve credit for encouraging Arbitron to speed up the introduction of cell-phone-only sampling in diary markets and to introduce a sample quality benchmark for 18-54 year olds, the demographic on which most radio advertising is focused,” said Arbitron CEO Steve Morris.

Chuck DuCoty, COO of NRG Media and Chairman of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council applauded the moves. “I’m very pleased that Arbitron has responded positively to the request from the Advisory Council to accelerate the timeline on instituting the Cell Phone Only initiative.  Adding CFO to the sample frame is the single biggest change that can be made to improve the diary sample and speeding up the process is good for the industry.  Additionally, establishing benchmarks for 18-54 moves the focus of the sample off 12+ and on to the demographic range where the majority of the radio buy/sell process occurs.  I am convinced that the establishment of benchmarks in PPM markets helped speed the improvement of PPM sample and the transparency and accountability of benchmarks can only help us improve the diary sample as well.  I am hopeful that the establishment of an 18-54 diary sample benchmark is the first step toward moving the diary guarantee from one based in 12+ to one based in 18-54,” DuCoty told RBR/TVBR.

Here’s what Arbitron says it is doing to improve samples in diary markets:

Accelerates introduction of cell-phone-only sampling in diary markets
Arbitron now plans to accelerate the introduction of cell-phone-only sampling in diary markets by six months sooner than the company had announced earlier this month.

Beginning with the Spring 2009 survey, Arbitron will add cell-phone-only households to the sample frame in 50 diary markets. Arbitron also plans to expand cell-phone-only household sampling to a total of 125 diary markets with the Fall 2009 survey. (Specific market lists not yet finalized.)

“We believe that cell-phone-only sampling will help improve sample quality for young adults in diary markets and we are pleased to be able to start sooner than we originally anticipated,” said Owen Charlebois, president, Technology, Research and Development, Arbitron Inc.

Establishes diary-market sample benchmark of an 80 DDI for Persons aged 18-54

Starting with the Fall 2008 survey, Arbitron plans to establish a sample benchmark for persons aged 18-54 in all diary markets equal to a Designated Delivery Index of 80.  

This new benchmark will be based on the same metric the company uses to gauge its PPM sample quality performance–Designated Delivery Index. DDI is defined as the actual sample size for a given demographic (persons aged 18-54, in this case) divided by the target sample size times 100. Should the actual sample performance fall below an 80 DDI in a given market/survey, the company will focus its efforts to bring the sample performance above that threshold in subsequent surveys.  

“The progress we have been making in our ongoing sample quality programs gives us the confidence to introduce a sample benchmark for Persons 18-54 in diary markets,” said Steve Smith, executive vice president, Survey Operations, Arbitron Inc.  

Other Diary Market Sample Quality Initiatives

Earlier this month Arbitron announced the following planned diary market sample quality initiatives in addition to its now revised cell-phone-only sampling plans:

–Redistribution of survey incentives from older respondents to 18-34 year old respondents in all diary market starting in Spring 2009; and

–Acceleration of the company’s work to design web-based data collection and test whether it could replace the paper diary as the primary means to collect data.

RBR/TVBR observation: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. After seeing Arbitron focused for years on making PPM work and making promises to big market broadcasters about the PPM sample, folks in diary markets finally rose up and demanded some attention. Over the years, diary samples have gotten heavily weighted to the older demos, with 55+ greatly over-indexed, so radio operators have justifiably called for measures to improve the sample in 18-54, where most radio ad business is written. Arbitron heard the squeaky wheel and went to work.