Arbitron Diary Invitation Issues Surface Again:
Remember the recent story about two WSRT/TRAVERSE CITY, MI employees resigning over participating in an ARBITRON survey (NET NEWS 10/22)? Well, it's happened again -- almost -- in the same cluster. WSRT, WKLT and WFCX GM CHARLIE FERGUSON told ALL ACCESS, "For the third time now, some of our employees were invited to participate in the ARBITRON FALL 2007 survey. One was WKLT afternoon talent J.J., then Chief Engineer DENNIS MURRAY got one, and the third came this week addressed to "Resident" at the station's address."
"I've suggested to ARBITRON's DAVE WILLINSKI, through our rep DAVID RICE, that they should send stations access to a database to list our employee addresses and phone numbers. DAVID's response was: 'You expect us to do this?' My response was, 'Yes -- we're paying you a ton of money to get this right."
"If my staff has gotten three separate invitations to fill out diaries, how many of my competitors have received them as well? What if they didn't turn down the opportunity? We can't be the only stations whose staff is being contacted, can we? ARBITRON has a real responsibility to insure the integrity of the ratings and that radio station/company employees don't participate in the survey, but the opposite would appear to be happening."
FERGUSON goes on to say, "ARBITRON's troubles don't stop there. The Small Market Initiative is a disaster in progress. The idea is to average two books to 'control the bounce' in Condensed Markets. We found a huge problem with their secondary providers like SmartPlus that use 'Summary Data.' Buyers at agencies are used to pulling two-book averages for Standard Markets. When they get to Condensed Markets they continue to pull two-book reports when the single book option in the software is already averaged. The result is double-counting the oldest sample -- and rounding the numbers twice! This caused several of our competitors to show a full rating point higher and cost us literally thousands of dollars in lost business."
ARBITRON has been contacted for comment. (Tue, 11/13)