An interesting development occurred during a football game between Wisconsin and Penn State a couple of Saturdays ago. Taking advantage of an NCAA rule change, Wisconsin head coach, Bret Bielema, intentionally had his team run offsides twice in order to kill the clock and win the game. While this move created some controversy among the coaching community (Joe Paterno blew a gasket and broke his leg in the same game), Notre Dame's head guy, Charlie Weis, commented that "as long as there's rules where there's loopholes...you can't chastise someone for taking advantage of the rules."
And that got me thinking about the Arbitron diary, and the rapidly moving reality of PPM. In your own markets, PPM may seem about as imminent as the next Presidential election, but in Philadelphia, it all starts in January. You can bet that PDs in the "City of Brotherly Love" are already thinking, planning, and strategizing.
I wonder who was the smart person who discovered that because the Arbitron diary starts on Thursday, planning big giveaways on that day could lead to a higher chance of getting written down on that day. A number of years ago, I was working for a Canadian station that adopted this strategy for a big Thursday contest, despite the fact their diary week begins on Monday!
So, should programmers work hard to figure out PPM, develop strategies for taking advantage of the rules, and plan tactics that will do just that? Whether you philosophically agree or disagree, you can bet it will happen.
And to some extent, Arbitron is aiding and abetting that process. They are dropping the PPM "bread crumbs" in the research and analysis they've conducted, as well as some of the breakouts they've already presented at various Consultant Fly-Ins. (If your consultant doesn't attend these helpful sessions, you might want to think about finding another consultant. Arbitron is providing radio with the materials necessary to learn and understand the ins and outs of PPM.)
There are many more lessons to be learned, of course, but our world is about to change - in a big way. And programmers will clearly look for new ways to bend the rules.