Nielsen Says No to ‘PPM’

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Nielsen Media Research decided not to partner with Arbitron Inc. to commercially deploy “Portable People Meters” as the primary tool to measure ratings, instead preparing its own comprehensive game plan, officials said Wednesday.

Nielsen plans to adopt “a portfolio strategy” for TV measurement and build on a number of initiatives to track ratings. Within the next 90 days, Nielsen said it will unveil its own strategy to provide more accurate and complete measurement of TV ratings. Those plans include tracking mobile viewing.

In 2000, Nielsen and Arbitron signed an agreement under which Nielsen had an option to form a joint venture for the commercial deployment of PPMs, including their potential use for measuring TV ratings. Since then, Nielsen said, it has invested millions of dollars on research to determine the viability of the PPM system.

“We recognize the appeal of a portable, single-source measurement tool,” Nielsen president Susan Whiting said in a prepared statement. “While it may offer considerable benefits for radio research, we believe that a one-size-fits-all measurement system is not the approach for a currency in today’s complex television market.”

Arbitron will concentrate on its efforts to create a PPM system for radio, and it said it is continuing to talk with Nielsen about using the meters for out-of-home TV measurement.

In a letter to Nielsen’s clients, Whiting said the company believes its new “Active/Passive Meter” remains the foundation for measuring viewing on the home TV set.

“Clients have strongly articulated that, more than other combinations of media, it is critically important that we bring together television and Internet measurement, thereby breaking down silos of different audience-measurement services,” Whiting wrote. “This will be one of our top goals.”

Nielsen said its decision not to proceed with the joint venture won’t affect its collaboration with Arbitron on “Project Apollo,” a national marketing-research service that would collect multimedia and purchase information from a common sample of consumers.

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