Arbitron To Nielsen: 'Thanks But No Thanks' In Houston
"By the time Nielsen would make its decision, the Houston demonstration market will be up, running and producing audience estimates," said Pierre Bouvard, president of Arbitron's portable people meter initiative said in a notice sent to clients on Friday.
Instead of wasting its time "determining how Nielsen might fit into to an already functioning Arbitron organization in Houston, we would rather we spend our time with Nielsen focused on those issues that hold the most promise for bringing the PPM to the marketplace," he added.
An Arbitron spokesman recommended not reading too much into the "tea leaves" of the statement, but the move clearly signals Arbitron's effort to seize control of the spin surrounding the research and development of the PPM, which Nielsen executives have been loath to support publicly, despite a number of important successes in other markets.
Canada has already deployed the PPM as the official TV audience measurement system in its two largest media markets, Quebec and Montreal, and on Friday TNS announced plans to expand its use of PPMs for radio audience measurement in Norway.
For their part, Nielsen executives say they remain keenly interested in exploring the development of PPM technology, but still have big concern concerning its reliability, as well as the impact the system could have on the TV and radio audience measurement markets. Among other things, they say the system raises big questions about the definition of audience exposure between the two media that are as yet unresolved.
While Bouvard said Arbitron has "withdrawn our invitation for Nielsen to participate in the day-to-day operations of the Houston PPM market trial," he noted that Nielsen will still provide access to their meter/diary television audience estimates in Houston so that the industry can make comparisons with the PPM data.