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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.

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) with annual revenue of less than $7 million (per market at the cluster level), 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.

Annual Population Updates – October 2020

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.

Updates to Nielsen Scarborough Survey – October 2020

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 2 2020. Contact your Nielsen Account Executive for a detailed list.

Five-Week Holiday 2020 PPM Report Period – October 2020

Nielsen has announced that it will increase the Holiday 2020 PPM report period from the traditional four weeks to five weeks, spanning 12/3/20 to 1/6/21. This will realign the monthly reports more closely with the calendar months.

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.

COVID-19 Guidance Statement – April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected radio listening, especially early on when many businesses were forced to close. Nielsen has issued a statement 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.

Update: Nielsen has continued to issue this statement through the following surveys: Fall 2020 for diary 2-book markets; April 2021 (February/March/April) for diary CDM markets; April 2021 for PPM markets; and Fall 2020 for NRD Data.