Agency Giant Signs for Electronic Audience Monitoring Via Portable People Meters

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NEW YORK ( -- Interpublic Group of Cos. is the first media client to sign up for Arbitron’s portable people meter (PPM), the passive media measurement device that Arbitron is rolling out to measure radio audiences electronically.
Arbitron’s portable people meter.

The deal, for which terms weren’t disclosed, will provide PPM data to all of Interpublic’s planning and buying agencies, including Deutsch, Initiative, Mullen, Universal McCann, Hill Holiday and ID Media. Interpublic’s clients include Home Depot, Coca-Cola Co., Dunkin’ Donuts, AOL and Arby’s.

Two trials
Arbitron has conducted two trials, in Houston and Philadelphia, and has said it will roll out the service more broadly in the next five years.

As with Nielsen’s TV measuring service, the bulk of the fee is paid by media sellers. While the planning-and-buying agencies have shown strong verbal support for the new technology, Interpublic is the first media company to put its money where its mouth is.

Nielsen and PPM
Arbitron is still evaluating two bring-to-market approaches for the PPM, either independent commercial deployment or one in which it would partner with Nielsen Media Research on a joint venture to measure local market broadcast and cable TV viewing as well as radio listening. Nielsen is examining whether to participate in PPM. At the moment, the main currency for radio audience data derives from paper diaries consumers fill out.

While Arbitron’s agreement with Interpublic doesn’t commit it to a specific deployment timetable, it hopes to commercialize PPMs in the next year and roll them out to the top 50 markets in the five years.

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