PPM panel reveals more TV viewing than previously reported

The new measurement panel's preliminary results are being released today and may indicate that TV - not digital - has the stronghold in the industry.


BBM Canada is launching the much-buzzed-about national and regional digital audience measurement service using its Portable People Meter (PPM) technology today and, with it, preliminary data that is already beginning to shift attitudes in the industry.

The new technology, which allows the audience measurement service to follow TV viewers wherever they’re doing the viewing and to record radio listening in real time, automatically detects inaudible codes that broadcasters embed in the audio portion of their programming using encoders provided by BBM. (At the end of each day, survey participants place the meters into docking stations that recharge the devices while simultaneously sending the collected codes via modem, to BBM for tabulation.)

Jim MacLeod, president and CEO of BBM Canada calls the launch ‘much more in tune with today’s mobile lifestyles,’ and Theresa Treutler, president and CEO of the Television Bureau of Canada, agrees, citing new PPM advantages like the fact that it sets the stage for one currency (or single-source database) for all television content – whether it’s in family rooms, online, or on mobile devices. She also adds that it’s a ‘cost-effective technology, compounded by cost-sharing with the radio industry, that will allow for potential PPM measurement expansion down the road,’ and that it offers panel compliance. ‘From a research perspective,’ says Treutler, ‘the easier and simpler to use, the better the compliance levels from panel members.’

With preliminary data in hand (and expected to be released later this week), Canwest SVP strategic insight and research Kathy Gardner tells MiC the new results may change attitudes toward TV. ‘There have been so many stories in the press about the demise of TV,’ says Gardner. ‘The PPM will clearly demonstrate that Canadians are watching more TV than previously thought: young viewers are watching more TV; younger adults watch more news than was previously reported. ‘

Gardner tells MiC the data already indicates that there is more viewing to sports programs, events like the Grammys, and reality programs like Big Brother than previously reported. ‘We certainly will see increased reported ratings to many of our top programs, which will raise the value of those programs with our advertisers. As we go through the fall, we’ll see more people viewing TV than previously reported, which positions TV as a continued leader in the media landscape. The numbers will speak for themselves.’ Citing the capture of out-of-home viewing, co-viewing as well as its ability to more accurately capture viewing by younger demos (18-to-24) and views by men, Gardner says the PPM is ‘an enhancement technology for the industry’.

‘This doesn’t mean that the old system was inaccurate,’ points out Gardner, ‘with more technology in people’s homes, the old system just couldn’t keep up with the rapid changes in viewing patterns. To me, it’s all about capturing multiple screens and how viewers transition from one screen to the other. Something BBM Canada may be interested in examining is the possibility of including the online broadcast offerings like Globaltv.com, and be able to report the viewing on mainstream, viewing to online video, as well as viewing to video-on-demand.’

Of radio, Kim Osborne, group director, broadcast at PHD Network tells MiC, ‘we are going to see extreme differences, by daypart, by station. Buyers are going to have to think totally different. Radio was always considered a frequency medium, but based on PPM results, radio is definitely a reach medium. We’ll have to dive deeper into the station list to reach the audience that they achieved with three to four stations – now a six to seven station buy, with varying formats.’

Over 75,000 PPMs are currently in use across eight commercial media measurement services, and include, besides Canada, the US, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Kazakhstan and Singapore.