Arbitron uses PPM (Portable People Meter) for audience measurement in the top 50 markets. There are advantages and disadvantages to the new methodology, and tactics a station can successfully use to maximize PPM ratings are different from those that work well in a Diary market.
In Diary markets Arbitron selects panelists to keep a Diary for one week (Thursday through Wednesday), and make notations as to which stations they hear, where they are listening (home, work, car, some other place) and the time they started and stopped listening to each station. The panel is zero-based every week and respondents are paid on average two dollars for their participation. Studies have shown that panelists overwhelmingly do not carry the Diary with them all day, but fill it out when they get home in the evening. This actually makes it a recall survey, and panelists can be inaccurate when it comes to station name, correct frequency, etc. There is no penalty or forfeiture of the two dollars for incorrect entries.
The job of the Programmer is not simply to get people to listen, but to listen multiple times within a week, to remember that they listened, to write down their listening in the Diary, and to write it down correctly.
The best way to do that is to realize that listeners don’t actually matter. Only Diarykeepers matter. Obviously you don’t know which listeners are Diarykeepers, but you can develop a better understanding of the types of listeners who are most likely to say, “Yes” when contacted by Arbitron. What motivates them? Where are they when they listen to you? How do they write you down? Is there any pattern of a consistent entry mistake that costs you ratings? Are you their P-1 station? When your listeners have the radio on but are listening to some other station, which one is it? Any pattern to this by daypart? What do they write on the Comment page?
The more you know, the better equipped you are to Maximize your ratings. Ratings Results can provide you with a full Diary Review that can answer many of these questions and put you on the right track.