Allen Kepler (Pres of BA Research) announced a big move for BA with the launch of his PMM (Personal Mix Master) on line music research this week. While Allen sells the new product as part of Earth week since his staff will no longer be polluting the planet zipping from market to market in planes, trains and automobiles the real advantage here is lower cost, more convenience for the participants and better research. You can read the release on the BA site.
Some of the highlights include random placement of the songs. The order is no longer fixed for the songs in the online testing world. We all seen the first 25 or so songs in an auditorium test come back with nice scores then the fatigue starts to set in and little by little the scores fall off.
The other is careful panel management. We've mostly relied on using panels recruited from the station's database or pleas on air and on line to sign up. While we usually ended up with a big panel there really wasn't much screening and you would rarely see P1 listeners from competitors in the sample. BA feels they have the screener down to be able to fine tune the panel and represent the target.
The panel can take the test on their schedule and pause the test when they get fatigued or distracted. They can also slow down the pace of the hooks to their liking and re-listen to songs if they want a little more time to make up their minds.
With all the data collected on line it's a lot easier to build a quality panel with people from any market. In fact given the short comings of phone listings and the burden of random number generating to even get close to a sample the is open to the market it's a lot better. You also have a world with cell phones, VOIP lines and other systems where you can live in a market and have numbers from area codes thousands of miles away.
All of these are great advantages in music testing.
A lot of researchers have been a little skeptical of on-line research. Not being able to 'see' the sample in a room, lack of screening, and the concern that you are using a different recruit than the telephone based sample we see from Arbitron are all concerns. But, the paper and pencil days are ending for the top Arbitron markets and really doing paper and pencil research with almost anyone under 40 is so yesterday.
I'm a fan of going on line, as you may have read in past blogs. Working with Solutions Research in Canada we've done on-line perceptual and music tests for over 2 years and the results are great. The costs are also lower and the results come back quicker.
Having also worked with BA on a number of projects over the years and watching their innovation years ago with the Mix Master dials system they do good work. We can expect to see quality data.