Getting Ready For Cross-Platform Measurement: Q&A With Arbitron's Carol Edwards

One of the hot topics in the industry today is cross-platform measurement. In this week’s interview, Carol Edwards, SVP at Arbitron, discusses her company’s role in this area. Edwards is deeply involved in Arbitron’s new business ventures and recently spearheaded Arbitron’s cross-platform initiative using its portable people meters in a project for CIMM. In this interview, Carol discusses the cross-platform project, Arbitron’s portable people meters and offers a look ahead into the media landscape of the next few years.

Videos of the complete interview can be viewed here. Below is an excerpt:

CW: Carol, what are you working on in cross-platform media measurement?

CE: We recently completed a pilot project with CIMM: The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement. A couple of years ago we received an RFP for a cross-platform measurement solution and we did, along with comScore, participate in that project. ComScore did their own solution and Arbitron did their own solution.



Arbitron  recruited a standalone panel of former PPM (portable people meter) panelists for this project.  These panelists  were used to carrying the PPM and they had a relationship with Arbitron. We gave them back their PPM for measuring broadcast and cable TV viewing both in and away from home and asked them to then download a PC meter and a  mobile smartphone meter. We were measuring media usage across three screens, TV, PC and mobile from a single panelist (single-source). 

It was a proof-of-concept  pilot, so we only asked 500 people to participate,  but I think we had a vast learning experience along with CIMM and its members. I think that what we proved is that people are willing to allow a trusted research company like Arbitron to measure multiple platforms. Another thing we learned is that there is great value to a core calibration panel with demographics for understanding platform usage interplay and duplication patterns. This quality, panel-centric foundation is going to be a central component to future multiplatform measurement solutions.

CW: Were there any results of the CIMM test that surprised you in terms of behavior?

CE: We had several key learning experiences from the CIMM test and proved out a couple of industry hypotheses. Television was clearly still the dominant leader in time spent with media.  People are not cannibalizing their television time to incorporate new Internet and mobile options. Consumers are expanding their time spent with media to incorporate the other platforms. 

This was proven out by the research.  ESPN has a “Best Available Screen” hypothesis and we saw that play out with our study. There were some other interesting dynamics – one key insight from a research methods perspective was gained by incentivizing people to be three-screen participants.

We learned a great deal about what incentive systems we need to use, from a panel management perspective, to get people to join the panel, to register all three screens for measurement, and also to stay in the panel over the length of the surveys. We also learned that people were willing to do these extra things requested by Arbitron because of our relationship with them. They trusted Arbitron because we have a high-touch panel management relationship with our panelists. They trusted us with their privacy as well through the entire measurement process.

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