Cross-Media Contributions of Arbitron's Portable People Meters (PPM)

Roberta M. McConochie
Arbitron Inc.
Beth Uyenco
Optimum Media


Increasing media fragmentation challenges consumers as well as media planners and buyers. For example, in 1985, the average television home received 19 channels vs. 74 channels in post-cable 2000.1 The portion of total channels actually viewed in an average week on the base of channels available has dwindled to less than one in five, 18%. Additionally, active, out-of-home lifestyle trends further exacerbate the challenge of reaching consumers effectively and cost efficiently. The most active, on-the-go consumers of media are often young and upscale.  These people have limited time and inclination to participate in traditional surveys.

Clearly trends in media, lifestyles, and demographics challenge any sort of media measurement that relies on the active reporting of individual consumers. Not surprisingly, previous transitions from active-measurement to passive, e.g. household – tuning reports in diaries vs. household or people meters, show spectacular differences for dayparts, program genres, and for individual programs. In the past, the key beneficiaries of change to more passive measurement have been young adult and teen targets; less-used or less salient media such as independents and small stations; and off-peak media times, e.g. late nights and weekends.3