The Future Is Now

The latest findings from the market launch of the portable people meter in Philadelphia

Robert H. Patchen
Beth M. Webb
Arbitron Inc.


Starting this year in Philadelphia, the users of radio and TV ratings will confront an important fork in the road regarding the future path of media research. Down one path lies, more or less, a continuation of the current audience measurement realities. These include a continued dependence on respondent cooperation with burdensome active reporting systems like diaries, interviews and push-button people meters; separate methodological and reporting 'silos' for radio, television and Internet audiences; an inability to track consumers' media use throughout the day, wherever they happen to be, both at home and away; and a growing inability to foresee and adapt quickly enough to new technologies (like digital) that may require new, complex and very costly solutions with each new wave of innovation in media delivery.