People Meters Causing Static for Advertisers

Research: Radio Ratings

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NEW YORK ( -- Hispanic radio stations and ad agencies fear a huge drop in ratings when Arbitron moves from paper diaries to Portable People Meters to measure radio audiences.
Isabella Sanchez, VP-managing director at Publicis Groupe's Tapestry
Isabella Sanchez, VP-managing director at Publicis Groupe's Tapestry

Compared to the general market, Hispanics spend more time with radio, and advertisers allocate a bigger chunk of their budgets to it -- almost 20% of their spending, about $726 million, according to Ad Age's Hispanic Fact Pack.

The new measurement system has already been put into effect in Houston and Philadelphia, but panic only set in when the first numbers came in from New York.

"The preliminary numbers ... were drastically down," said Isabella Sanchez, VP-managing director at Publicis Groupe's Tapestry, the biggest multicultural-media buyer. "Listenership to Spanish-language stations was 50% down, and it's causing quite an uproar. That big a difference translates into [ad] dollars."

Ms. Sanchez will chair a new PPM advisory council set up by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies to represent Spanish-language broadcasters and Hispanic agencies. She said a drop was expected in the move from the subjective diaries participants fill in themselves to the electronic measurement using a beeper they carry with them.

"The concern is to make sure the sample and methodology are what they need to be," she said. There could be issues with the ages and number of the sample, and with compliance, or whether participants always carry the device, she said.

Rich Tunkel, Arbitron's VP-national group services and regional manager, said Arbitron has addressed concerns about sample size and representation, compliance and response rates.

The plan was to roll out Portable People Meters to more markets this fall, but Mr. Tunkel said Arbitron will decide in June on the rollout schedule.
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