Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Nielsen Audio Wish List

One of the biggest 'change events' for our whole industry in 2013 was Nielsen buying Arbitron.   Nothing hits more at the heart of our world than the ratings and having it switch to Nielsen and actually start the morphing into a central measurement service that covers many different media is destined to have a big impact.   

It's also Christmas time so let's combine these 2 topics and have a seat on Jolly Ole Nick Nielsen's lap and see what he can fit under the tree.  

Here's my list Nick Nielsen:  

  1. Sample Size - Great move to improve the sample sizes in the PPM markets and especially in the 30-50 ranked markets where it was very weak.  But let's not stop there.  The smaller markets that are still on diaries still need to have a much stronger sample.  There is so much weighting going on in these markets it's very hard to trust the data - especially in the younger all important Millennial age cells. Nick we've been very good broadcasters outside of the top 50 markets serving our communities and in many markets you can sell to someone other than the big 3 giving you some diversity in your client base. 
  2. The Diary - Let's face it the diary is completely useless technology to collect data with.  With most of the population under 40 this is sort of like bring out a quill and a bottle of ink.  We can see it all the time with the lack of response from the under 40 year olds and also we have to wonder - 'are the ones who will cooperate with this antique data collection system' representative of the general population or are they a very tight sub cell?  Perhaps they are Amish? With today's new smart phones there are many more ways to collect data that is way more accurate - similar to how the PPM data works.  Also consider the huge costs of processing all this paper, postage and recruiting a fresh sample every week.  
  3.  The Demos - We drew up the 25-54 standard back in the 70s and 80s when the baby boomers were all represented in this broad cell.  It became the standard for using radio, but now it's time to move on and realize that generations evolve and age and we need a system and a standard that is not pegged on what was the demo profile of 30 years ago.  Nielsen is the one with the data and the one who stands in the middle of the buyers of our media and our media builder/seller side.  Education, some innovation, and look at the design of the software and the reports.  There are ways for Nielsen to start a new revolution here and give radio a chance to show that it can impact many important generations - not just one.  
  4. Costs - Radio operators bare the brunt of the costs and in the future it looks like our sample will be providing data for a number of media operators with Nielsen offering lots of sellers and buyers data based on the sample they draw for 'audio' measurement.  Their buying pool will increase, that should mean that Radio costs can come down.   
Many of us have some fears here.  Will Radio get lost in a sea of competitors that all show up in some form of combined media standard?  Will our needs in gathering data take a back seat so mobile media, pure play streamers, video services, Social Media sites and web portals all grow at our expense when a 'standard' is set?  But, in the end it's time to give the buyers the data they need and do our best to make 'Audio' broadcasting the star of the show.  

Surely you can add to the list.   So have a seat on Nick Nielsen's knee and have a great holiday.   

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