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The War against PPM is a Big Mistake

From Inside Radio:

Taking a page from Cold War generals’ playbook, Arbitron launched a pre-emptive strike Monday aimed at attempts to stop it from further commercializing PPM in eight additional markets. But New York’s Attorney General warns broadcasters, advertisers and agencies they could be drawn into the growing legal battle if they use the PPM-based ratings data to buy or sell airtime. By day’s end the FCC was closing its comment period on whether it should join the fray, leaving the marketplace to wonder whether the next shoe would drop in Washington. Arbitron executives declined to be interviewed, but in a statement CEO Steve Morris says they pulled the trigger “in order to meet our obligations” to the radio industry. Morris says that’s particularly critical since “Advertisers are in the process of planning their ad budgets for all media including radio.” But opponents such as NABOB’s Jim Winston accuse Arbitron of turning the PPM issue “into trench warfare.” Others are telling their salespeople to ignore it altogether — saying it’s deeply flawed. “We can only fight for what’s in the best interest of our audience, our community and our stations” says Inner City Broadcasting COO Charles Warfield, who tells Inside Radio “Our battle has been just as much about the impact on the entire industry.”

Let’s step back from this debate and be rational for a moment.

First, it is clearly not in Arbitron’s interest to foist upon the radio industry, its clients, a measurement system which is crap.

Second, it is clearly not in the interest of the radio industry to air its dirty laundry in public, let alone do so with the assistance of federal and state governments.

Third, it is clear that the people who are most opposed to PPM are those who perform proportionately worse in this methodology compared to the diary-based one.

Fourth, is there any question in anyone’s mind that what we have under PPM is more accurate than what we have under a methodology where people can and do draw straight lines down entire pages to “reflect” the “fact” that they “listened all day”? Are we really arguing that the diary-based methodology – one loathed in every corner of the radio universe across this entire country – is better?

This is a case of the interests of the radio industry and its advertisers being hijacked by a small number of selfish parties who don’t like PPM because PPM doesn’t like them as much as diaries do.

Pure and simple.

So, at a time when radio’s slice of the pie is shrinking, go ahead and confuse the advertisers and provide them disincentives aplenty to use radio at all. Well done.

PPM is “deeply flawed”? Compared to diaries?! Are you kidding?!

And please don’t suggest that this battle is about the entire industry. These are the interests of the few dragging down the interests of the many.

And the radio industry at large will be worse off for it.

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