While still a very small part of its business, Arbitron more than doubled revenues for its cross-platform and mobile measurement efforts in 2012. Some have suggested that Arbitron continuing to
work on projects in the cross-platform arena as a stand-alone company is a plus for the industry and reason to oppose its potential acquisition by Nielsen.
Arbitron -- whose portable people meter (PPM) technology offers a variety of prospects outside its core radio measurement business -- saw cross-platform/mobile revenues climb to $3.2 million last year, up from $1.5 million in 2011.
On the radio front, CEO Sean Creamer stated that last year contracts were renewed with several leading clients, which included a deal with Cumulus. The company recently announced it would work with Cumulus on cross-platform initiatives, which may include streaming audio. Nielsen has said the Arbitron deal would move it into that arena, partly because of the nearly completed phase-in of contracted PPM price increases.
Overall, radio revenue increased in 2012 "primarily" due to the PPM-based service, although no exact figures were cited.
Arbitron has touted its opportunities in multiplatform measurement -- where it could also add radio as another platform in the mix -- in previous investor calls. But it did not hold one in conjunction with releasing its fourth-quarter results with the Nielsen deal before government regulators.
Last year, Arbitron announced a multiplatform measurement product, backed by ESPN with comScore. It has also done work with the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement.
Nielsen CEO David Calhoun has indicated that bulking up Nielsen’s cross-platform initiatives is not a notable factor in the proposed purchase.
The $3.2 million in revenues is a tiny slice of Arbitron’s total $450 million, which was up 6.5%. Profit rose 6.8% last year to nearly $57 million.
Profit in the fourth quarter — where revenues were up 3.8% — was down slightly to $13.4 million, impacted by $5.2 million in expenses (pre-tax) related to the Nielsen deal.
Creamer stated that in 2012 “We maintained our focus on long-standing objectives: continued growth in our core revenue, improving margins while
aggressively investing in the quality of our radio ratings services, and entry into new markets, such as digital radio, cross-platform and mobile.”