Portable People Meters Perform Prettily in Philadelphia

17 April 2002

US specialist in TV and radio audience measurement Arbitron on Tuesday released data from its second trial in the Philadelphia market of its new gizmo – the Portable People Meter.

Overall, reports Arbitron, the new device delivered bigger numbers than current audience measurement techniques for all media segments, especially for cable and broadcast TV.

The PPM, a pager-size recorder, is carried or worn by panel members. It automatically tracks inaudible codes embedded in TV, cable and radio signals, allowing greater accuracy in measuring consumers’ exposure to media sources, Arbitron claims.

In the first Philadelphia trial, completed last November, three hundred residents in Wilmington, Delaware (part of the Philadelphia TV market), utilized the PPMs. In the second month-long phase in February, the panel was increased to 1,500 users producing media estimates similar to those garnered in the earlier trial.

Cable TV estimates more than doubled from a 3.4 rating to 8.1 with the PPM. TV stations were 34% higher – from 12.9 (using Nielsen's meter/diary system) to 17.3 via the PPM. Radio was better still, from 11.0 using Arbitron's diary methodology to 11.8 with the PPM.

The higher viewing levels, Arbitron believes, can be partly attributed to increased viewing by men and people under 35, as well as substantially higher cable viewing overall. In addition the PPM registers out-of-home viewing, otherwise unmeasurable via current methodologies.

Nielsen Media Research will also participate in future PPM analyses.

Data sourced from: MediaWeek.com (USA); additional content by WARC staff