Arbitorn Exec Pierre Bouvard has now declared 2008 as the 'The Year of 25-34s.' This after declaring that Arbitron's recent campaign to get 18-24 returns up was improving. But, most of that was centered around the PPM markets in Philly and Houston. Even after PPM rolls out there will probably be around 200 markets still looking at diary returns, with it's weak data collection system, and need for more annual sample (remember the PPM sample mostly stays around for a year or more and diary keepers are only in for a week).
So let's take a look at the Spring 2007 National Sample report from the Arbitron Radio Nationwide pdf on their website (look at it here). In the sample report here are the Spring 07 sample results:
Arbitron has a long ways to go even if the goal is only to get into the 70 index range for Men 18-24 and the news is even worse in 25-34 Men. Realize that that means they are only delivering a C- sample (if we were grading it in a High School format where 75 is a C). Just barely passing the class and being able to stay on the team - not enough to get accepted at anything but a trade school.
Pierre claims that the PPM sample in Philly is now above 70 in 18-24 Men but there they are pulling out all the stops. They are going door to door!!!! Also adding a lot more cash to carry the PPM and calling and calling till it hurts. Will they make this level of effort without PPM on the line? In your market?
The sample index problems we see here are not new. It's been an issue since the 80s - over 20 years. At first it was just those pesky 18-24 Men, but now it's even worse in 25-34 and Women have also joined the non response team.
You have to reach out beyond the land line telephone. This group are the first to move to cell only or ignore the land line households. They are quickly heading to 50% unreachable by Arbitron's land line sample system.
It's time for new answers and I bet Chuck would agree that we are not seeing many options that have much of a chance to impact this crucial area.
Regular readers here have see a few posts on some ideas - I'm sure there are more out there. Somehow they have to get to the surface very soon. The agencies are already looking at Arbitron with a raised eyebrow (to say the least) and all the PPM developments and publicity only make the diary system even more suspect. Add the bad sample to the weak diary data collection and this is quickly becoming a guess - not an estimate.