Canada launches record PPM panel


Arbitron says the world’s largest combined radio/TV panel is up and running in Canada, using Portable People Meters (PPM). BBM Canada, the non-profit broadcast ratings consortium, announced Monday that PPM has replaced its previous technology nationwide.

Some 9,000 people across Canada are now carrying PPM devices to automatically detect the encoded, inaudible codes transmitted by radio and television stations across the nation.

“The launch of BBM Canada’s radio and television PPM service is a huge step forward for the Canadian television and advertising industries,” said Jim MacLeod, President and CEO of BBM Canada. “BBM led the world with PPM technology in Montreal and Quebec regional television measurement in 2004.  With 5 years of experience we know PPM is reliable, that BBM panelists like to use the device, and that portable measurement is much more in tune with today’s mobile lifestyles,” he added.

In addition to national ratings, BBM will report PPM audiences in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, for radio and television, and Edmonton for radio. PPM replaces Mark II technology for TV in all areas outside Quebec, which has used PPM for the past 5 years. Radio markets had previously been measured using BBM’s paper diary service (with the exception of Montreal which began using PPM measurement in December 2008).

BBM selected a joint bid by Arbitron and TNS Media Research in April 2008 to launch the new service utilizing PPM technology.

“Arbitron is excited to be a key component of this innovative approach to audience measurement; and pleased to showcase the distinctive capabilities of our PPM service. The PPM technology is designed to measure exposure to all audible media and is easy-to-use, mobile, flexible and language-agnostic,” said Arbitron Chairman and CEO Michael Skarzynski.

RBR/TVBR observation:
We know many US broadcasters who are envious of the idea of what the neighbors to the north have – a non-profit ratings company controlled not by a third party, but by broadcasters and advertisers. Would that model be workable in the US?

That was the vision that Clear Channel and several other broadcasters had a few years back when Clear Channel Radio issued a request for proposals for a radio ratings system to succeed the Arbitron diaries. Several other major broadcasters joined in evaluating the proposals, but the coalition didn’t hold and once CBS Radio signed for PPM Arbitron moved ahead with its rollout and the RFP process sputtered out.

We would also note that the countries around the world which have industry organizations in charge of broadcast ratings haven’t produced any technological advances that we are aware of. Rather, they adopt and license those from the for-profit ratings companies, such as Arbitron and Nielsen. So maybe there is something good to be said for the profit motive.