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Do We Need an Official Review?

January 5, 2017

Every NFL fan knows that when there is a questionable referee call, the coach has the opportunity to challenge the call. At that time, an independent panel reviews the call and they have three choices:

  • Overrule the call (the original call was wrong)
  • Confirm the call (the original call was right)
  • Let the call stand (the review was inconclusive)

In recent weeks there has been a great deal written about Nielsen’s survey performance, especially in the PPM markets. The problem is that we as an industry only have very rudimentary ways to measure the validity of the Nielsen sample. We supply these measures to our programming clients every survey, but it is not enough.

Diary clients can still review the actual diaries to make sure that they are getting proper credit. They can look at scans of the physical diaries and get an idea of participants’ (diarykeepers’) intent. If they question an entry’s crediting, or an entire diary’s crediting, they can ask for an official review. Sometimes calls are overturned. Rarely does this result in any significant change in the ratings – leading to a book being reissued – but it does occur.

However, in the top 48 markets, we have no way to check the validity of the survey. Previously, Voltair demonstrated that maybe, just maybe, Nielsen’s system was not crediting all exposures. Nielsen adjusted their system. However, most broadcasters are still not 100% confident that they are getting full credit for true listening to their station.

We as broadcasters need a way to measure whether or not the system that determines our success and failure is properly capturing all the listening we receive, and an avenue to cry foul when we believe something’s amiss. Programmers work hard for every quarter hour of listening. It is time that we can be more confident that we are getting the credit we deserve.

Please share your thoughts below, or contact us for more information.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner