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Your Market Is Changing … Do You Know How?

October 26, 2020

Every year, Nielsen Audio updates the population estimates for all of their markets. These new population estimates will be seen in PPM markets with the October survey, diary CDM markets with the October (August-October) survey, and diary 2-book markets with the Fall survey.

Why are changes in your market’s population estimates important?

All audience estimates are in part based on population estimates. If the profile of a market changes, it can affect who is winning or losing in the ratings. For example, if the 45-54 population grows and the 25-34 population falls, then stations and formats that appeal to the older end of Adults 25-54 might perform better or worse than those that appeal to the younger portion based on weighting. Remember, the population changes impact:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Geography

Even if the profile of the population in the market doesn’t change, each meter or diary may have different weights because of the population update. The higher the weight, the more impact that the individual meter or diary will have on the listening estimates.

How are the estimates updated every year?

Even though the U.S. Census is only done once a decade, Nielsen Audio uses data supplied by the marketing company Claritas to project how market populations have changed since the previous Census. The base this year remains the 2010 Census, and is updated to January 1, 2021.

While Claritas does a good job in tracking population changes, we are still working with a base that is ten years old. This annual update typically shows only minor shifts, but there is the potential for big swings when the 2020 Census is incorporated into the Nielsen Audio population estimates.

How can I tell how my market has changed?

The first step is to know the present profile of your market. Then, when the appropriate survey is released, do a quick comparison between the two surveys. Comparing the previous estimates to the new estimates can give you great insight.

How do you use this data to your advantage?

Programmers: Is every station in your cluster properly programming to the marketplace or have the updated population estimates hurt one of your station’s ratings potential?

Sales: Can you be a resource to your clients, and potential clients, by letting them know how your market is shifting? Is their advertising message targeted appropriately?

Again, typically this change is small, but understanding how your market is shifting and evolving is important to your success.

Research Director, Inc. clients will be receiving market-specific insights regarding changes in population estimates and their impact on the ratings. Not a client? Reach out to us here to talk more.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner