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2020 Nielsen Audio Population Updates

November 14, 2019

Each year, effective with the October PPM and Fall diary books, updated population numbers are incorporated into Nielsen Audio’s radio audience estimates. Changes within the market population can significantly impact the audience estimates that Nielsen Audio reports, even if panelists’ or diarykeepers’ listening hasn’t changed at all.

How is this?

Each survey, meter and diary data is projected to represent a portion of the population. This is the weighting that broadcasters often talk about. Since the population has changed, the weight given to each meter or diary is adjusted to the new population.

These new population estimates are based on Census 2010 data projected to 2020. While the projection updates are done with intense scrutiny, realize that the base data is now nearly ten years old. Even after the 2020 census is complete, it will take a while for this new data to be incorporated into the markets’ population.

Ideally, each meter or diary represents the same number of people in the metro as every other meter or diary. However, this is not the case. When Nielsen Audio over- or under-samples a particular group, they employ weighting. This means that a meter or diary in an under-sampled group will represent more people than a meter or diary in an over-sampled group.

Understanding how your population projections change every year is important when defining your market position. While each year the change can be small (typically under 3%), over time a market’s profile can show significant shifts. Understanding the demographic composition of your market is important for every programmer and sales rep. It can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Every market is unique, with differing projections. Research Director, Inc. examined the new population projections in many markets. We noticed two changes in market characteristics in many of the markets we examined. Many markets exhibited:

  • An aging of the population, with Adults 65+ seeing the biggest percent increase of all the age groups
  • Tremendous increases in the Hispanic composition of the market
    Again, not all markets behaved in this fashion, but most that we analyzed did.

How was your market impacted by the population change? If you’re in a PPM market, your October book was recently released. If you’re in a diary CDM market, your October Arbitrends data released/releases this month, with the Fall book out in January for all diary markets.

If you have any questions about how these population changes affect you, give us a shout. Research Director, Inc. clients automatically receive a breakout of the changes for their particular market.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner