Bill McKenna Back at Arbitron

Arbitron has brought back a top manager from its past to help shape its strategy for the future. Bill McKenna, one of the creators of Arbitron’s ScanAmerica single-source TV service in the late 1980s, Wednesday (Oct. 13) was named to the new position of svp, new media ventures.

McKenna (pictured) is an inventor with several U.S. patents to his credit. He is now tasked with helping turn Arbitron into more than a radio ratings firm by leveraging the company’s portable people meter technology, a personal meter capable of measuring multiple media. He will also support Arbitron’s international initiatives (it has licensed its PPM in a number of other countries), and make the rounds at industry forums as the “corporate voice” for Arbitron new media and emerging technologies. He reports to Tim Smith, evp, business development and strategy.

McKenna was most recently CEO and president of Integrated Media Measurement Inc., which used smartphones equipped with software to measure audiences across various media platforms. Arbitron acquired the IMMI technology portfolio, patents and trade name in June. Prior to IMMI, McKenna served as president and CEO of KMR North America, part of WPP’s Kantar Group. In 1998, he founded Mediafax, a marketing and research company in the Caribbean sold to IBOPE Media.

Arbitron’s new president and CEO Bill Kerr, who recently reorganized the ratings firm, is banking on McKenna’s decades of industry know-how to help make Arbitron a player in new markets and media platforms.

“As current media continue to expand to new platforms and as new media emerge, Bill will work to establish Arbitron as an innovative and leading provider of media and market intelligence,” Kerr said.

McKenna has his work cut out for him. Arbitron, which abandoned its local TV ratings service in 1993, has since had limited success growing its business beyond radio. In 2008, Arbitron and Nielsen shut down Project Apollo, a single source, national market research service that combined the PPM with Nielsen’s consumer panel. In early 2009, Arbitron abandoned its Internet radio ratings service.

The ratings firm began ramping up its development of new research services in the past year. Earlier this year, Arbitron signed Turner Broadcasting and ESPN to its ARB-TV service, which used the PPM to measure TV viewing outside the home. In a collaboration with Omniture and comScore, Arbitron provided cross-platform measurement of online and TV viewing for NBC Universal’s multimedia coverage of the Winter Olympic Games.