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Arbitron: Sympathy for the Devil

I have to admit, this is the first time I actually feel sorry for the folks at Arbitron.

Here’s an NPR story (listen here) on Arbitron’s decision to slow down PPM rollout (I share this particular link with you because it represents the face of this story to the average listener).

There’s not much I can add to this story that hasn’t been said, but I want to leave you with this:

If anyone expects PPM numbers to resemble diary numbers, forget it. There is almost no measurement methodology under the sun more flawed than the notion of a listening diary. And the fact of all research is that changing the methodology will change the outcome (that’s why how you pick your methodology is so important). Assuming that PPM meets basic levels of representativeness (which is what this debate seems to be about) it will then be time for us all to accept the outcome and deal with the consequences. Besides, radio’s future is less about ratings than it is about revenue. And if you think those two are inextricably linked you don’t understand how the radio world is changing.

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