Ratings Bias and Social Media

Posted on March 22, 2012


Ratings bias and distortion can happen in social media too.

Everyone who’s been on the air at a commercial radio station should have, at some time, had the concepts of Ratings Bias and Ratings Distortion explained to them.  If you aren’t familiar with the terms someone clearly neglected your education.

In a nut shell, the two boil down to doing anything that will affect the ratings process. That could be something as ridiculous as asking people carrying a Portable People Meter to come to the station so you can put them on your payroll to something as simple as going on the air and telling a diary keeper to be sure and write down the name of your show.

You can’t do that and your station can get in trouble for it. It used to be pretty simple for hosts to avoid because the only way they could get in trouble was to say something stupid on the air. Now, as with everything else in life, technology has made things more complicated.

Earlier this week a station in Atlanta was slapped on the wrist after the morning show sent out this tweet, “If you have ARBITRON PPM, make sure to tune in to TRG, 6-10a, Rock 100.5 ATL Thx.”

It’s important to understand that Ratings Bias and Ratings Distortion apply to everything you do or say including comments on social media platforms regardless of whether it’s your personal account or not.

If you want to learn more about the regulations and understand what is and isn’t acceptable talk to your PD, get in touch with your local Arbitron representative or visit the company’s Web site.

But don’t get fooled into thinking that just because it’s your own personal Facebook account that you can say things about the ratings process.