It’s hard to argue that Portable People Meters (PPM’s) won’t be more accurate reflections of listening than diaries are since just about anything is more accurate than a diary for measuring listenership.
Here’s something you should consider as we bravely and boldly go forth into the darkness of a new measurement scheme:
Right now in a market like Tampa there are about 3,200 diaries per quarter to measure listenership to 36 “above-the-line” stations, or about 89 diaries per station.
How many meters will be placed in a typical market?
I’ve heard there will be fewer.
Let’s say there will be 2,000 meters in this market (and that’s more than the estimates I’ve heard – but you tell me if you’ve heard differently). The cost difference will be such that it’s unlikely the industry will support the same level of measurement that exists now.
Now let’s say that we’re in the world of HD Radio and there are six stations for every currently existing station. In Tampa, that’s a theoretical 216 stations – let’s call it 200.
Under this scenario, it means we have 10 meters per station, compared to 88 diaries per station.
How do you feel about counting on ten meters for your station’s ratings?
Now obviously, once the number of radio stations multiplies the job of measuring their listenership gets tougher no matter what methodology we use, but that difficulty is compounded if we have fewer measuring instruments actually in the market at any given time.
No matter how faulty my estimates are, one essential fact remains: In a world with more stations and fewer measuring instruments the accuracy of ratings will get worse, not better.
A lot worse.