The Difficult Balance of Media Measurement

Roberta McConochie
Arbitron

Media measurement balances three marketplace forces: consumers, media and the buyers of media – advertisers and agencies. In the first decade of the 21st century, the balancing act has become strenuous. Maintaining integrity, utility and value in the service of all three masters may be approaching a level of difficulty beyond that of any single media-measurement organisation.

THE CONSUMER ANGLE

Consumers in many nations no longer unequivocally welcome researchers into their lives. In the 1940s and 1950s, when survey research was in its infancy in the US, researchers were able to achieve nearly 100% response rates (1). A few decades later a discussion of non-response in audience research stated: 'A high standard for completed respondent records in tabulation is 75%' (2). Maintaining 21st-century response rates in the 30–40% range requires ever-increasing ingenuity and multiples-more per in-tab investment than decades ago (3).