Audience measurement using RFID and PPM

Pat Pellegrini

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has moved from relative obscurity to mainstream press attention in recent years. RFID successes in helping speed the handling of manufactured goods and materials, from warehouse-size packets to individual-item level tagging, continue to bring this technology greater acceptance. This article focuses on the future of this technology for marketing and multimedia research – an area previously largely ignored.

Experiments combining RFID and the Arbitron Portable People Meter™ (PPM) for multi-media audience measurement are presented as examples.

The PPM uses an inaudible identifying code and time stamp in a broadcaster's output (i.e. encoded audio) to properly credit listening or viewing and, in turn, it calculates radio or TV audience ratings. The innovative use of a passive portable device (about the size of a cellphone) to capture media exposure overcomes respondent burden and recall errors while measuring media consumption anywhere and anytime (1, 2, 3). The PPM has been widely tested around the world and is now in commercial use in the US, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Kazakhstan and Denmark.