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Arbitron Inc.
Type Public (NYSEARB)
Founded Washington, D.C. (1949)
Headquarters Columbia, Maryland
Area served United States
Key people Bill Kerr CEO
Industry Media Market (Research)
Products Ratings Data
Revenue $368.82 million[1]
Net income $37.22 million[1]
Employees 1,300

Arbitron is the leading radio audience research company in the United States that collects listener data on radio audiences. It was founded as American Research Bureau by Jim Seiler in 1949 and became national by merging with L.A. based Coffin, Cooper and Clay in the early 1950s. ARB's initial business was the collection of television broadcast ratings exclusively.

ARB changed its name to Arbitron in the mid 1960s. The name came from the Arbitron System that was one of ARB's products; a central statistical computer with leased lines to viewers' homes to monitor their activity. Deployed in New York, it gave instant ratings data on what people were watching. A reporting board would light up to indicate what home was listening to what broadcast.




Arbitron collects data by selecting a random sample of a population in more than 300 metros throughout the United States via the diary service two to four times a year and via the electronic audience measurement service known as PPM three hundred sixty five days a year.

The term commonly used in the radio industry for these quarterly ratings is Arbitron book, or more specifically, the Spring book, '"Summer book", 'Fall book, and "Winter book".. Arbitron also releases monthly information twice between the release of each book. These ratings, called Arbitrends, commonly referred to as "trends", are labeled Phase I and Phase II. The Arbitrends, despite being mid-term indicators, reflect the entire three-month block leading up to them.[2] Arbitron surveys listener habits from six a.m. to midnight from Monday through Sunday[citation needed], 48 weeks per year. There is given a one week break following the Spring book, and an additional three weeks break following Fall book.[3] Turnaround time for release of data from the end of the survey period is approximately three weeks.

After collection, the data is marketed to radio broadcasters, radio networks, cable companies, advertisers, advertising agencies, out-of-home advertising companies and the online radio industry.[4] Major ratings products include cume (the cumulative number of unique listeners over a period), average quarter hour (AQH - the average number of people listening every 15 minutes), time spent listening, (TSL), and market breakdowns by demographic. It is important to understand that the CUME only counts a listener once, whereas the AQH can count the same person multiple times, this is how to determine the TSL. For example, if you looked into a room and saw Fred and Jane, then 15 minutes later saw Fred with Sara. The Cume would be 3 (Fred, Jane, Sara) and the AQH would be 2. (an average of two people in the room in a given 15 minute period)

The seasonal books' 12+ ratings, a measurement of the overall number of people 12 and over listening to a particular station, are available as a free service for noncommercial use in most markets, except in cases where radio companies request an embargo. More detailed data, such as demographics and Arbitrends, are available only by paid subscription.

Portable People Meter

Responding to requests from its customers - radio broadcasters, ad agencies and advertisers that expressed their interest in the collection of more accurate ratings data, Arbitron introduced the Portable People Meter (PPM) in 2007. The PPM is a wearable portable device much like a pager or cell phone, that electronically gathers inaudible codes that identify the source of a broadcast, such as a radio station. Arbitron recruits and compensates a cross section of consumers to wear the meter for up to two years. The audience estimates generated from each monthly survey is used as the buy/sell currency for radio stations and advertisers/agencies. As of December 2009, the PPM is the currency in thirty three markets including:Houston, Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Long Island, Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Chicago, Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Francisco and San Jose. By yearend 2010, 48 markets will be measured using the PPM. [1]

Financial Performance

Top 9 of the Market Research Sector 2009

Rank Company Sales in 2009
(million USD)
Growth in %
1 Nielsen Company 5,000.0 2.6
2 WPP - Kantar Group 2,000 2.5
3 IMS Health Inc. 1,958.6 8.9
4 GfK AG 1,397.3 5.4
5 Ipsos 1,077.0 6.5
6 Synovate 739.6 9.5
7 IRI 665.0 6.6
8 Westat 425.8 0.8
9 Arbitron 400.0 5.9

See also


External links

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