The future is now

Date of publication: June 14, 2002

Company: Nielsen


The portable people meter (PPM) is a promising new media research tool that makes it possible to automatically track consumers? exposure to the electronic media. An inaudible code is inserted into the audio signal of radio, broadcast and cable television channels, Internet streaming sites, and other media outlets. These codes are then passively recorded by pager-sized personal meters worn by respondents. Media exposures captured by the PPM are collected overnight when panelists "dock" their meters at bedtime. After nearly a decade of research and development, Arbitron Inc. has launched the first full-scale market trial of the PPM system in Philadelphia. Approximately 80 media outlets are encoding their signals and a panel of 1,500 consumers age 6+ are equipped with the portable meters. Channel-specific ratings for radio, broadcast and cable TV are being reported for the first time so customers can evaluate the PPM results against existing ratings methods. Assuming adequate client support, Arbitron plans to convert the Philadelphia panel to commercial operation early in 2003, and begin the rollout to additional U.S. markets.

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