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Nielsen Bulletin Board

Nielsen Bulletin Board

Stay up to Date on What You’re Paying for!


The Ratings Experts at Research Director, Inc. appreciate the opportunity to keep you informed with clear, simple, no-spin explanations of changes in Nielsen’s services. But what we really love is providing our clients with tools and insights to help them grow their ratings, increase their revenue, save time, and bolster their credibility. If your team could use help with that, let’s chat.

Updates to Nielsen Scarborough Survey – April 2022

The categories found in Nielsen Scarborough are always evolving to keep up with changes in consumer behavior. There are some useful updates effective with Release 1 2022. Contact your Nielsen Account Executive for a detailed list.

Nielsen Sale Announced – March 2022

Nielsen is going private. A group of private equity investors are purchasing the company for $16 billion, including debt. The planned closing will take place in the second half of 2022, pending approval from Nielsen shareholders and regulators.

PPM Wearables – March 2022

Nielsen has been testing its new PPM Wearables, which include wristbands, pendants, and clips. This technology is “part of Nielsen’s continued efforts to modernize its panels and improve the panelist experience, drive broader adoption among existing and new panelists and increase engagement among more challenging demographics.” In late March, Nielsen revealed that the results of the test were successful, with the wearables showing longer carry times and similar listening to the traditional PPM device.

Wearables will begin rolling out to live panels in April, and Nielsen’s goal is to have 50-75% of panelists using these wearables by the end of 2022.

Spring 2022 Nielsen Audio Blue Book – March 2022

Nielsen has released their Spring 2022 “Blue Book,” which provides population estimates and rankings for their measured markets. Based on updated data from the U.S. Census and other sources, market rankings may shift from year to year. Download the updated document through the Nielsen portal in the Nielsen Audio Workspace section.

Nielsen Addresses Impacts of COVID-19 and Global Supply Chain Issues – January 2022

Nielsen has shared its plans with clients to ensure reporting continuity and accuracy of audience estimates in the face of the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic.  The company will continue to execute a combination of in-person and remote activities to “ensure stable in-tab performance,” taking into account COVID-19 risks among Nielsen field employees and panelists. In-tab levels are also impacted by global supply chain issues, which have made it more difficult for Nielsen to keep up with the demand for new PPM devices. Nielsen expects in-tab levels to return to current levels by late February or early March.

COVID-19 Guidance Statement Discontinued – October 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected radio listening, especially early on when many businesses were forced to close. Nielsen had been issuing statements to stations and advertisers concerning the use of its ratings for buying and planning purposes. Nielsen’s statement reads as follows:

Given the anomalous nature of audience behavior during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, it is Nielsen’s position that future buying and planning decisions for periods that fall outside the COVID-19 crisis should not be made using COVID-19 impacted audience estimates.

Effective with the October 2021 PPM survey, October 2021 (August-October) diary CDM survey, and Fall 2021 diary 2-book market survey, Nielsen no longer plans to issue these statements due to radio listening levels rebounding.

Annual Population Updates – October 2021

Each year, effective with the October/Fall survey, updated population data are incorporated into Nielsen’s radio audience estimates. Nielsen uses population estimates in order to model its sample as similarly to the population as possible – demographically, ethnically, and geographically. For example, if 20% of a market’s population is Hispanic, Nielsen will attempt to compose its sample of 20% Hispanics. Therefore, this can affect weighting, which can in turn affect the ratings.

Population estimates are based on the most recent Census and projected for the upcoming year based on third-party vendor data.

Nielsen Audio Subscriber First Reporting Policy – October 2020

Nielsen is now reporting only subscribing stations in the Summary Data Set, used primarily by agencies and media buyers. Non-subscribers will only appear in respondent-level data, which is more expensive. If you have questions about what data your station uses, contact your Nielsen Account Executive.

Nielsen is making a couple exceptions and will, regardless of subscriber status, include any minority-owned station (Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Female) that do not exceed annual revenue thresholds, as well as non-profit stations either publicly owned or holding 501(c)(3) tax status.

This took effect with the March 2021 survey in PPM markets and March 2021 (January/February/March) survey for Continuous Diary Measurement markets. It will take effect with the Spring 2021 survey for 2-book diary markets.

PPM Headphone Adjustment – September 2020

The PPM device can only detect wired headphone listening if panelists use a special adaptor, and there is no way for it to detect wireless headphone listening. Nielsen will be using modeling to estimate missed headphone listening beginning with the October 2020 survey. This will affect the ratings for encoded station streams, and Nielsen projects an increase in total market listening (PUMM) of 2% to 5%.

Please note: The headphone adjustment is not reflected in the PPM Analysis Tool or Weeklies data at this time. Nielsen hopes to have this complete in early 2021.

PPM Outlier Mitigation – September 2020

With PPM panel sizes, one listener or household with abnormally heavy listening can lead to unusual increases in a station’s ratings. If a panelist’s listening to a single station exceeds the 99.5th percentile and the household accounts for at least half of the station’s total listening, Nielsen will decrease the listening to match the heaviest listener from another household. These households will still be included in total market listening (PUMM). This adjustment began with the October 2020 survey.