AHAA’s Position on…
Portable People Meters (PPM)
Proposed Changes to PPM Sampling Methodology Too Little, Too Late for Hispanic Advertising Industry
Compliance with Attorneys Generals’ Mandates Won’t Yield Accurate Representation of Hispanic Radio Listeners...
Substantial Changes are Required
The Portable People Meter (PPM) electronic radio measurement device Arbitron rolled out last year to replace diary panel data in select markets is driving Hispanic radio stations out of business and inhibiting Hispanic-specialized agencies from effectively planning and purchasing radio for their clients. Despite Arbitron’s minimal improvements resulting from the legal settlements with New York, New Jersey and Maryland Attorneys General (AG) the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) contends that issues remain with the PPM Hispanic sample size, composition and confidence levels for specific demographic cells within the sample.
The industry has voiced concerns over the move to more precise measurement using inadequate methodology for more than a year and until recently were met with Arbitron’s defensive posturing to protect the imprecise data. Hispanic broadcasters and Hispanic-targeted radio comprises less than 15 percent of the radio ratings giant’s business and meaningful change has been slow and arduous for Hispanic media buyers and broadcasters. Arbitron has been focused on trying to improve the numbers without improving the sample. For example, based on the AG mandates, Arbitron is:
- Increasing the number of cell-phone only households, which is critical in sampling Hispanic households (timing)
- Raising the (DDI) benchmark from 70 to 80 within two years
- Increasing the Sample Performance Indicator (SPI) from 20 to 21 but AHAA agencies are requesting an SPI of 25 on average
- Including country of origin in the reporting
- Working toward MRC accreditation
While this is a step in the right direction, AHAA agencies assert the timeline for change is too long and resolution of the core issue seems unachievable based on Arbitron’s data collection premise established two years ago. Hispanic listeners fall out of a broad general market demographic of persons 18 years to 49 years with a 90 percent confidence and a +/- .2 interval.
The data doesn’t allow for deep analysis into sub-sets of the broader demographic, which is essential to Hispanic-specialized agencies when developing targeted radio campaigns. Reaching a narrow sample of a large and very diverse population segment during a very specific time period is essential in connecting with Latino consumers. The Hispanic sample skews old and does not accurately reflect the ethnic composition of the Latino population in a given market. In addition to the broader problems as addressed in the AG settlement, PPM doesn’t provide the granularity for AHAA agencies to effectively recommend radio plans with confidence.
Inaccurate ratings are forcing agencies to recommend radio for advertisers based on historical knowledge of the stations’ performance rather than their clients’ objectives and are causing devastating financial problems for Hispanic broadcasters. Advertisers are beginning to question the reliability of radio to deliver sales because the PPM ratings are not representing the buying audience.
AHAA leaders met in June with Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski and his senior management team to attempt resolution and gain a better understanding of the chasm between the high station rankings and ratings reflected in the diary sample versus the abysmal decline using PPM technology. Prime time Hispanic radio, for example, has shifted from morning drive to 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. overall and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. for men, which is completely contradictory to years of historical performance using the diary methodology.
Although there appears to be willingness for transparency AHAA does not believe there is significant, two-way dialogue or partnership in correcting the problems. On the surface, the monthly presentations to agencies seem to indicate improvement but when the AHAA PPM Task Force, led by Isabella Sanchez, senior vice president of Tapestry and AHAA Vice Chair Jessica Pantanini, COO of Bromley, digs deeper into the results questions and issues remain unanswered.
Stations are suffering, agencies responsible for planning and buying media are shackled, and ultimately Latino consumers will lose a lifeline to their communities. Many U.S. Latinos rely on Spanish-language radio for essential information vital to their health, welfare and well-being. If these radio stations fold because agencies and advertisers are obligated to make purchasing decisions based on flawed data, ultimately our communities and an entire industry will be devastated.
Members of the AHAA Board of Directors met with members of Congress in Washington recently to urge representatives to drive PPM change through their respective AG offices. Additionally, AHAA leaders met with Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Robert McDowell to petition further investigation and pledge the industry’s support of the FCC inquiry into PPM.
“We will continue to work cooperatively with Arbitron to achieve significant resolution; however, our members need help to stimulate results so we will continue to flex political and legal pressure to ensure accurate representation of Hispanic radio listeners,” said Gisela Girard, AHAA chair and president/COO of Creative Civilization. “We have a duty to protect the interests of our agencies, our clients’ budgets, and Latino communities across the country. What’s happening to cultural radio broadcasters and our businesses is a travesty and AHAA is committed to challenging the validity of PPM data in earnest.”
For additional information, contact Elinor Kinnier, AHAA Communications Manager, 703-610-0204, email@example.com.