AHAA DENOUNCES ARBITRON'S ADVANCE LAUNCH OF PPM
Arbitron’s Indifference to PPM’s Flawed Methodology and Misrepresented Cultural Sampling Will Undercut Hispanic Radio Stations
McLEAN, Va., October 7, 2008 — Leaders of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) expressed disappointment and concern over today’s premature launch of Arbitron, Inc.’s Portable People Meter (PPM), which was not scheduled for commercialization until October 8 th. AHAA joins the cultural broadcasting community in criticizing the new PPM radio ratings system citing flawed methodology and sampling issues. Despite numerous attempts at resolution, and increased political and legal pressure, Arbitron moved ahead with its planned rollout of PPM without reform, which may cause devastating financial effects on Hispanic broadcasters and agencies, and eventually may mean the demise of many cultural stations.
“The reckless, irresponsibility of Arbitron’s release of PPM without addressing the methodology and sampling issues is reprehensible,” says José Lόpez-Varela, chairman of AHAA. “It is an economic travesty to consider that an entire industry of cultural radio broadcasters may be wiped out because Arbitron executives wanted to collect their reward for an on-time launch rather than improve ratings accuracy. Minority stations are feeling the pressure of Arbitron’s monopoly on radio ratings and today, the company flexed its corporate muscle again creating even more problems and issues for cultural stations by insisting they begin using PPM today. The deceitful and manipulative move to strong arm stations and the advertising community again is shameful.”
AHAA is the national trade association representing 98 percent of the country’s Hispanic-specialized agencies. As stewards of their clients’ money and generally the professionals who place the media buys for corporate marketers, agencies voiced their collective concern over the validity of PPM through AHAA’s PPM Task Force chaired by Isabella Sánchez, senior vice president of Tapestry.
Arbitron’s today stated that the move to commercialize PPM was, “to meet obligations to customers and to the radio industry.” But AHAA agencies are frustrated because the move to PPM currency before resolving sampling concerns indicates the exact opposite: the company’s lack of obligation to Spanish-language broadcasters and the listeners they serve.
“The rights of Hispanic listeners are at stake,” says Lόpez-Varela. “AHAA agencies are accountable to advertisers and the consumers our clients serve, and we understand the risks invalid ratings may have on the entire community. Many U.S. Latinos rely on Spanish-language radio for essential information about their health, welfare and well-being. It’s a vital link to Latino communities in the U.S. and the move to PPM without accurate representation of Hispanic listeners will cause stations to lose ratings and skew market rankings.
“Some Spanish-language stations in PPM pre-test markets have experienced decreases in ratings and revenue of 50 to 70 percent and these are the numbers our clients – marketers - use when buying media. Arbitron executives have failed to acknowledge the severity of our concerns. If Arbitron executives spent as much time and effort trying to resolve the sampling issues as they have ensuring an on-time launch to reap the financial incentives dangling in front of them, this issue could be resolved.”
The Hispanic advertising and broadcasting industries stepped up in April to work together with Arbitron to address the gaps in accurate representation of ethnic communities. Rather than listening and acting, Arbitron executives defended the PPM methodology and refused to consider suggested changes. “As an industry, we support the move to a more precise measurement tool in PPM,” says Sanchez. ““What we don’t support is the misrepresentation of Latino listeners and the potential downfall of Spanish-language radio should Arbitron not improve the sample. We will continue pushing Arbitron to solve the issues so that they do get the sample right. In the meantime, we will all be working closely with our clients so that they don't get the impression that the new PPM numbers are reflective of what is happening in radio listening.”
AHAA will continue to support the PPM Coalition efforts, as well as legislative and legal action against Arbitron that is already in process.
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