Northern Michigan / UP: November 2007 Archives

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)

Ferguson Reignites Diary Flap In Traverse City
NORTHERN BROADCASTING AC WSRT, Rock WKLT and Classic Hits WFCX/TRAVERSE CITY, MI, GM CHARLIE FERGUSON has taken issue with ARBITRON's efforts to downplay the sampling and improper distribution of diaries in the market.

FERGUSON told ALL ACCESS that "ARBITRON Sr. VP THOM MOCARSKY's comments about the issues we've had with ARBITRON in NORTHERN MICHIGAN [were] pure double-speak. ARBITRON has a responsibility to insure the purity of its data sample and provide software that works properly. ... The addition of a database for employee addresses and phone numbers would not be an undue burden and since employee names would be omitted the privacy issue would be non-existent. ... ARBITRON's current system of outsourced telemarketers asking if people work in the media has, regrettably, proven to be insufficient.

"Mr. MOCARSKY's statement that 'the sampling rate is so high in TRAVERSE CITY' is truly laughable," FERGUSON continued. "When three diaries were thrown out and the book reissued in TRAVERSE CITY, WSRT/WSRJ went from a .6 rating in Persons 12+ to a .4 rating -- a drop of 33%! In our Female target demos, the ratings dropped over 21%. When ratings-driven revenue accounts for 40 to 45% of a stations total sales, the value of three little diaries in our size market is overwhelming. The remarkable honesty of the majority of media people is outweighed by ARBITRON's obligation to provide reliable ratings data that both buyers and sellers can use with confidence."

FERGUSON conluded by noting, "The 'warning on the front page' of Summary Data software is nothing more than a legal disclaimer and has little or no effect on its use. Averaging the averages yields incorrect data -- period. ARBITRON did issue a 'Service Advisory' to help make agencies aware of the problem. As you might imagine, when we brought it to buyers' attention, the reactions ranged from minor irritation to 'don't tell me how to do my job!' Since 2005, 'averaging the averages' has cost our company nearly as much as we have paid ARBITRON -- and it was business we deserved had the software functioned properly. This is happening to someone in every Condensed Market and it's just plain wrong." (Fri, 11/17)







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This page is a archive of entries in the Northern Michigan / UP category from November 2007.

Northern Michigan / UP: October 2007 is the previous archive.

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