Looking to expand its potential business opportunities, Arbitron announced the formation of a new cross-platform media measurement group on Wednesday.
As part of the new initiative, it hopes to raise the profile of its Portable People Meter, a passive electronic measurement device, for tracking audience exposure to media besides radio, its traditional domain.
The PPM-centered cross-measurement initiative is still in its early stages, led by Arbitron veteran Pierre Bouvard in the new role of executive vice president of cross-platform services.
The cross-measurement team's first assignment is developing the measurement strategy and defining outputs. However, Arbitron claims that once development is complete, the new service will offer integrated measurement of television, radio, Internet, mobile and place-based media.
PPM can measure a wide array of media, provided that the audio signal is encoded to include a marker, inaudible to people, that is detected by PPM. Recently, Arbitron announced a deal with electronic signage manufacturer Broadsign for PPM measurement of exposure to digital out-of-home media. In the past, Arbitron has also touted PPM's capabilities for measuring TV viewing OOH.
The cross-platform measurement initiative is the second big project to be launched by Arbitron in as many weeks. Two weeks ago, Arbitron unveiled a program to create a metric that will gauge consumer "affinity" for both the radio medium in general and for specific radio stations versus their competitors. This promises to aid radio ad sales teams trying to differentiate themselves from competitors. By convincing advertisers that its audience is not simply a commodity, radio can charge more for inventory.
The new business push is at least partly a reaction to the growing threat posed by Nielsen, which has launched a new radio ratings service to compete with Arbitron's diary-based audience measurement in a number of mid-sized markets. (Because of e expense, Arbitron is only using PPM to measure radio audiences in about a dozen of the biggest U.S. media markets.)