Easy Radio Buying: Arbitron Integrates XML, TAPSCAN


Buying radio advertising is about to get easier. 

Radio ratings firm Arbitron will integrate Proposal XML -- one of the most widely used software platforms for media transactions in TV and Internet -- with its own TAPSCAN system for radio ad sales proposals and evaluation, currently used by more than 17,000 radio sales personnel. The union will enable the distribution of over 400,000 proposals to radio buyers per year.

Arbitron plans to complete the software integration, which will allow buyers to buy local radio ad inventory seamlessly with other media, sometime in the second quarter.

Arbitron is moving to make TAPSCAN compatible with Proposal XML in response to demands from media buyers -- specifically Carat, which reportedly threatened to freeze its local radio ad spending earlier this month unless the buying process becomes Proposal XML-friendly soon.



After catching wind of this ultimatum, Arbitron reps met with Carat execs and struck a deal to preserve radio ad spending while meeting Carat's demands. According to Jerry Wiese, Arbitron's manager of customer software products: "We said we're committed to getting this done by the end of the second quarter, if they can just hold off" on the threatened spending freeze.

Wiese said the integration of Proposal XML and TAPSCAN is the highest priority for Arbitron's software division and will be handled in-house by Arbitron programmers. Jennifer Hungerbuhler, Carat's vice president and regional broadcast director said the upgrade should help local radio stations compete with other media, simply by making it easier and less costly to execute radio buys.

Plus, it could result in more spending "if we can show those savings to clients," added Hungerbuhler.

In addition to helping make the medium more competitive, the display of speed and flexibility suggests Arbitron's new management is trying to put its best foot forward as it begins its first full year on the job.

Arbitron's top management underwent a major shakeup over the course of 2010, with multiple departures and new names in top slots -- including CEO and president William T. Kerr and chief research officer Gregg Lindner.

These changes followed a high-profile dispute with minority broadcasters over alleged shortcomings of the sampling methodology for Arbitron's Portable People Meter, a passive electronic measurement device. The two sides seem to have buried the hatchet last year after new execs took the reins at Arbitron.

Separately, last week Arbitron announced it is integrating TAPSCAN with Marketron's Exchange, which handles media transactions, to create a fully automated, Web-based sales and traffic platform for radio advertising. The service covers all stages of the sales process from initial proposal through fulfillment, ratings information, and invoicing.

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