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We’re Only Trying to Help

June 27, 2024

We have a few suggestions that might improve Nielsen’s upcoming digital diary service. The first thing broadcasters want to talk about is sample size. Let’s be real. Sample sizes will only increase if radio is willing to pay for it. Clearly, this is a non-starter.

Rather, these suggestions are for the upcoming digital diary. I will state up front that I have zero knowledge about how this is being set up or utilized. So every suggestion may already be in the works. Think of this as me trying to predict the NBA draft – it’s all conjecture. With that said, here are a few suggestions:

We all know the problem with diary methodology is that it is based on recall. We live in an instant-gratification, short-attention-span world. Asking people to remember what they listened to last Tuesday is imperfect at best (Quick: What did you have for lunch on Monday?). The new digital diary could go a long way towards solving that issue by prompting diary keepers on a regular basis. People are used to getting push notifications from other apps, so why not remind them to enter their listening every day?

Provide diary keepers with multiple choices for their listening. Specifically, if they are recording an AM/FM entry, prompt them to specify whether this was over the air or online. Further, since this is a digital realm, ask them what device they were using.

Let’s take this a step further. Ask the diary keeper to record ALL audio listening. To borrow a phrase from Edison Research – we are all part of the infinite dial. I realize pure plays like Spotify won’t pay for this data, but it would prove invaluable to radio programmers. Wouldn’t you like to know how audio consumption breaks down in your market? Are listeners switching from you to a podcast or Sirius/XM? Knowing the true competitive audio landscape could alter how you image and sell your radio station.

We will assume the digital diary will continue to provide the “at home/at work/in your car” option. Let’s take this a step further. The pandemic has forever changed how “at work” works. Hybrid has become an ingrained – and desired – option for many workers. Let’s ask the diary keeper to clarify that “at home” option by asking if they are “at work” while “at home.” This information could change how you approach your Midday and early afternoon programming.

Finally, let’s talk about the sample. The issue with the current diary methodology is a lack of consistency. The “panel” changes every week. There is no predictability when it comes to demographic representation and geographic inclusion. Say what you will about the PPM method, programmers can depend on a level of consistency. You can look at your e-book every month and see how much of the installed panel turned over (it’s usually in the 8-10% range). That turnover is 100% in the diary world.

Our suggestion is to adopt the panel strategy in the new digital diary configuration. This should be the easiest of our suggestions to adopt because it will SAVE NIELSEN MONEY! It is getting harder and harder to recruit sample so this would help address that issue.

I’m sure there are other suggestions that brighter minds than mine could offer but – hopefully – this starts that conversation.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant