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Tom Taylor, writing in his blog Taylor on Radio-Info (TRI), interviewed Cox Radio’s Bob Neil about Arbitron’s new, improved people powered meter (PPM). Bob says “This brings the technology from the late ’80s to about 1993.” Says he:

I asked Bob “Is the new PPM 360 better?” and he says “The hype exceeds the substance. What you have is a new-shaped device that calls the data in, instead of using a docking station. So what?” Neil says “The real issues haven’t been dealt with — sample size, that it’s another device that people have to remember to carry everywhere, the fact that studies done by RAJAR [in the UK] showed the device only captured station code about 70% of the time, and costs that don’t add up for stations.” On the question of costs, Neil says “I think people forget that radio stations have had their revenues reset to 1999 levels in many markets, yet this service costs 65% more than what was already often the largest operational expense for a station. With this methodology decreasing ratings by 30% out of the gate, the cost versus the benefit does not add up for the industry.” He also recalls suggestions “as early as 2000 that Arbitron consider cell phones to wed the software to, so that’s 10 years and nothing has happened.” Bob Neil’s been a hardcore (and outspoken) skeptic about PPM for years. Arbitron believes it’s taking a pretty major step forward with PPM 360 — so what do you think?

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