The battle between radio ratings incumbent Arbitron and newcomer Nielsen handed the latter another modest win Wednesday with the news that Black Crow Media is signing up three of its 22 radio stations for Nielsen's new radio ratings service. All three stations are located in the Huntsville, Alabama market -- one of 51 small and mid-sized markets where Nielsen is competing with Arbitron.
Black Crow joins a handful of big radio groups that have signed up for Nielsen ratings in at least one market, including Cumulus Radio, Clear Channel Radio, ESPN Radio and Maverick Media.
Mike Linn, the CEO of Black Crow Media, praised Nielsen's radio ratings as "the most accurate portrait of radio listeners today," citing the company's use of address-based sampling and single-source consumer behavior data.
Nielsen has highlighted sample accuracy as a key issue in its campaign to lure radio broadcasters away from Arbitron, particularly emphasizing the growing number of cell phone-only households among young adult demos. Address-based sampling ostensibly represents cell phone-only households better than phone-based sampling which requires a land line.
Arbitron is fighting back, including its December decision to move forward its planned increase in target sample sizes for cell-phone-only households in small and mid-sized markets. Previously scheduled to take place near the end of 2010, the date for the increase in cell-phone-only samples has been moved up to sometime this spring.
The move will raise the average target sample size for cell-phone-only households in these markets from 10% to 15% of panelists. Separately, Arbitron has also revealed plans to raise the proportion of cell phone-only households in its Portable People Meter markets to 20% by the end of 2010.
PPM, an electronic measurement device, is only being deployed in the 50 largest markets because of its high cost, which makes it prohibitively expensive for small and mid-sized markets.
The latter markets are measured with self-recorded paper diaries, which Nielsen has identified as a point of differentiation: Arbitron's system requires the diarist to write each day's listening by hand, Nielsen uses a sticker system, which it claims is easier and more accurate.