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This Just In! Utilizing Nielsen’s Pre-Survey Bulletins

October 21, 2015

Nielsen Answers has a wealth of information for clients and agencies. One thing that I always make sure to check out are the pre-survey bulletins.

Prior to every quarterly diary release and the 13 “monthly” PPM releases, Nielsen makes available a pre-survey bulletin. Some of it is run-of-the-mill stuff such as their total line reporting policy and a reminder to notify them of any station changes. More importantly, they outline changes that will take place during the survey or anything else out of the ordinary. I recommend that all Nielsen clients peruse these bulletins on a regular basis. They’re made available far enough in advance to provide time to make any necessary adjustments.

If you only get around to reading these bulletins once a year, the October and Fall pre-survey bulletins are the ones to focus on – and they’re available now. October data releases 10/26-10/29 (weeklies 1, 2, and 3 are already available). Fall data releases 12/30-1/28 (Phase 1 Arbitrends starts releasing 11/2). Here’s a quick rundown of some things to note.

PPM:

  • Effective with the April and October releases, Nielsen implements changes to its high-density area (HDA) splits. This year, Cleveland, New York, San Francisco, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Austin will be affected.
  • Every three years, Nielsen decides if the ethnic SDS (summary data set) for certain markets will be added or discontinued. This time Columbus OH, Nashville, Orlando, and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton will begin receiving Black SDS files; Atlanta, Boston, Middlesex-Somerset-Union, and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton will begin receiving Hispanic SDS files.
  • The enhanced CBET (critical band encoding technology) software updates began October 12 with Baltimore and Washington DC. Does this spell the end of Voltair? There’s your topic. Talk amongst yourselves. Actually, talk with us in the comments section below.
  • Yet another version of Tapscan Web will be released when the November data comes out.

Diary:

  • Fall 2015 is the last survey in which Nielsen will release Maximi$er data. Goodbye, old friend. You will be missed.
  • Nielsen welcomes two-book average markets Charlottesville VA, Hilton Head SC, and Twin Falls-Sun Valley ID. Santa Rosa exits the building.
  • Based on subscriber requests, the Chattanooga TN metro and TSA have been redefined to include additional counties.
  • Stamford-Norwalk CT has a new HDHA split in Fairfield County, along with Hispanic DST (differential survey treatment). Ethnic splits are collapsed in Muskegon MI and St. Martin LA.
  • Every three years, Nielsen decides if the ethnic SDS (summary data set) for certain markets will be added or discontinued. This time Akron, Biloxi, Hudson Valley, and Wilmington DE will begin receiving Black SDS files; Hudson Valley will begin receiving an Hispanic SDS file.

Everyone:
Yes, I have something that applies to both PPM and diary markets. (We’ve drifted so far apart, haven’t we?)

  • Every year, Nielsen projects the most recent census data to the following calendar year. You’ll see the population estimates change for age, sex, race, and geography with the October and Fall books. For more on why this matters, check out this blog from a couple years ago. Clients – see note below.
  • The rebranding of materials, scripts, etc. from Arbitron to Nielsen will be complete with the October and Fall releases. (I would expect this to be better for sample/panel recruitment because Nielsen has more brand recognition than Arbitron did.)

That concludes today’s lesson. We’re not called “The Ratings Experts” for nothing, so if something in the pre-survey bulletin baffles you, please reach out.

Our clients will receive information about the updated population estimates as data becomes available to us. PPM and four-book diary markets in November; two-book diary markets in January.

-Anne Doyle, Production Manager

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