My first comment is that this project is very disappointing.
Secondly, these panelists signed a confidentiality agreement (as do BBM's) so the fact they would even respond to Broadcast Architecture might say something about them. I would say they are far from typical of the people who take part in PPM.
We are in the midst of a third party audit of our PPM system by E & Y, and they do random household visits, verify tuning minute by minute, and speak with each panelist. They also ask if they are aware of the confidentiality obligation. We did the first 18 households in Montreal and so far every home is what they said they were, each panel member was aware of their task, and all households (although not 100% of the people) know it was confidential. That's a bigger sample than Broadcast Architecture and paints a very different picture.
Thirteen people and seven homes is hardly a representative sample of the 70,000 or so in the Arbitron system and the fact that is all they could find in a major market might say something about the average panelist.
They of course found the panelists most likely to respond to incentives ... they paid $50 to each panelist!
It is interesting in the interview that Broadcast Architecture does not seem to know that PPM records while in the dock (where the unit charges).
I can't comment on the US incentive scheme, but in Canada the payment is partially based on carry time but is a fraction of what is set out in this work. A Canadian panelist can earn a maximum of $10 a month from carrying a PPM. We do not disclose at recruitment what they will earn exactly.
We do exit interviews so we have a pretty good idea how panelists behave and why they leave. We do know from these interviews that points do driving carrying time and there is competition in some households, but that is positive. Carrying time does not influence results; it only maximizes the ability to intercept all exposure for each panelist.
BBM uses different management software than Arbitron. I can only comment on ours. We have Panel administrators who build relationships with their homes and we have diagnostics, some automated, some not, that will uncover suspicious behaviour. These are under constant improvement.
I can't disclose how we do it, but we have dock/unlock time by meter, carry time by meter, listening/viewing by meter, in home/out of home, and much more so it is not that hard to uncover multiple carrying and so on. If there is any doubt we suspend the home, and I am happy to tell you that we have uncovered only a handful since PPM started in Canada in 2004. To underline how simple it could be to find the panelist with the ceiling fan, if the fan is at home it will result in abnormal in home tuning, at work, the reverse. Not that hard to find.
It is not in BBM's interest to have even one panelist engaging in unacceptable behaviours, so we are as diligent as we can be to find them and deal with them. If they are suspended and not intab they would not know that; they would only know when we removed them and in some cases they had been out of the daily sample for some time as we investigated. In other words, we could be limiting any effect of unacceptable behaviour and they would not know.
Canada recruits in a two stage telephone based system that uses listed sample, unlisted and mobile only. There is no household visit involved. The first stage determines interest, and if they agree, they are included in the pool that could be recruited. That is the pool we go to monthly to select the panelists we need to maintain panel balance (about three pert cent pert month turnover).
No system is perfect, but BBM has 13 years experience with electronic measurement and I will say that PPM is the absolute best in terms of being able to manage behaviour, track panelists compliance and ensure that we have consistent and reliable participation. Sometimes we need to stand back and think of where we used to be, and that helps look at PPM in context.