Arbitron Misses Ethnic 18-34 Benchmark In Multiple Markets
By Mike Boyle
Updated 1 Hour(s) 36 Minute(s) ago
As hard as it says it is working to restore credibility to its struggling electronic ratings system, Arbitron continues to find itself in misstep after misstep.
In the latest PPM snafu, the company missed several ethnic benchmarks in its April ratings reports, not a good sign for a company under FCC scrutiny and under attack by minority groups who claim the PPM undercounts minorities. Arbitron's PR nightmare could worsen if the company doesn't do a better job of meeting benchmarks in May, which is traditionally radio's biggest revenue month.
Arbitron's Designated Delivery Index among Blacks 18-34 is 70+ in months 1-6 of the service, 75+ in months 7-12, and 80+ in year two. In Los Angeles, where the service was commercialized last September, the DDI for Blacks 18-34 was 64 in April. In Detroit, where 21.8% of the 12+ population is black, it was only 59. Detroit converted to the PPM in December. In New York, which adopted the PPM in September, Arbitron slightly exceeded the benchmark (76) as it did in Chicago (74) and Dallas (71). Chicago went live with the service in September, Dallas in December. The average DDI for Blacks 18-34 in April was 83.
DDI, which is based on 13-month average, is defined as sample size for a given demo divided by the target sample size for the demo.
Among Hispanics 18-34, April's DDI was 57 in Nassau-Suffolk and averaged 103 in all PPM markets. Arbitron has the same benchmarks for this demo as it does for Blacks 18-34.
Ethnic demo targets weren't the only benchmarks where Arbitron missed the mark in April. In the "Other 18-34" demo, San Francisco scored a DDI of 68. San Jose (74), Los Angeles (76) and Chicago (79) each registered DDI's significantly lower than the monthly average of 89.
Arbitron says that in the months ahead it "currently anticipates that the DDI for persons 18-34 will be close to 85." The company is counting on its plan to increase cell-phone-only sampling to 10% of the sample by July and 15% by December 2009. The company accelerated those targets from a previously communicated 12.5% by year end 2009.
Last week the company admitted to a data entry error that caused it to delay by one week PPM results in New York for April and the first week of May. But that was only part of the story, as the company then told customers earlier this week that the error -- where one of the manually entered population numbers was transposed -- also occurred during preparation for the October 2008 report processing and appears to have affected New York audience estimates for the Holiday 2008-March 2009 report periods enough to warrant their re-issue on June 8.