Courtesy of Radio Ink
Arbitron SVP/Marketing Bill Rose and VP/Diary & National Product Management Brad Feldhaus hosted a webinar Tuesday to give some details on Project Leapfrog, a “new experimental approach” to measuring midsized and diary markets. The project is in its early stages — Arbitron referred to the presentation as “a review of a test of an experimental research approach” — but it represents, Rose said, a “potential alternative to the paper-and-pencil diary.”
A weeklong Web and mobile survey is the primary means of collecting data in Project Leapfrog, though a paper diary will still be offered for respondents who don’t have Web access or who prefer not to fill out an online survey. Feldhaus described the goals and potential benefits of what he called the “completely new approach,” including a higher sample size that will offer improved granularity and reduce bounce.
Feldhaus noted that statistical “smoothing” can also reduce bounce and said Arbitron is “not averse” to that, but added, “We wanted to start with the fundamentals, increased sample size.” Within the sample, improved representation will reduce weighting, leading to increased confidence in the ratings among both stations and clients.
Collecting data via the Web or smartphones was also a goal of Project Leapfrog because of the technology’s greater relevance to younger adults. Feldhaus said, “We want to be able to reach this population in a manner that they’re comfortable with.” Another goal of the project: 100 percent address-based sampling, has the potential benefits of more complete coverage and of representing cellphone-only households at close to market levels.
Explaining the methodology, Feldhaus said Arbitron attempted to “set up a survey process that’s more in tune with the preferences of the population.” He said, “If they can reach their diary on their smartphone, effectively it’s always with them.”
A “proof-of-concept” test of Project Leapfrog was run in June 2010, designed to measure survey registration a mailed invitation. The results, said Feldhaus, were “very positive,” with registration better than expected and a higher proportion of 18-34s in the registered sample, as well as a lower proportion of 55+ respondents..
For 2011 testing, the Web and mobile interfaces have been redesigned, and respondents are now permitted to begin the survey on any date they choose, rather than having to wait until the customary Thursday survey start date. Pre-testing began in April, and, based on the outcome of the pre-testing, a large-scale field test will begin at the end of May and into June.
The new test will try two different packaging methods, a box and an “official-looking” mailer similar to a communication from a bank, to see if one or the other gets more responses. Respondents will also be given a choice of receiving their premium as an online coupon immediately after finishing the survey — providing premiums only after the survey is finished is another new feature in Project Leapfrog — or of having a prepaid gift card sent by mail.
Rose did a walkthrough of the new survey interface saying it is “designed to be easy to read, easy to fill out.” The survey requests basic age and ethnic information on the person contacted and other people in the household and, once a radio station has been entered in the listening fields will autocomplete the station name or calls to speed up future entries. Frequent e-mail reminders to complete the survey are also part of the process, and data can be carried over to an iPhone or Android smartphone app that has a similar interface.
The new field test will be a guide to the next steps Arbitron takes, and Feldhaus said that, although the question is often asked it is too early to provide a hard date for the new methodology to launch. He noted that changing ratings currency is “a big deal,” and that Arbitron’s PPM experience showed the importance of extensive testing.
Rose added that Project Leapfrog “show that w e are very serious when we say we are actively exploring alternatives beyond today’s paper-and-pencil diary.” But it is still experimental, and Rose emphasized that Arbitron is still “focused on sample quality in the existing diary service” while it explores Project Leapfrog.
Courtesy of Radio Ink