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Radio's First Change in Measurement in 10 Years

Written by: Shaunagh Guinness | February 12, 2019


Nielsen’s move to provide continuous measurement (12 surveys per year) in their 200+ Radio diary markets is a good thing for the industry and will finally put Radio on a level playing field with TV and Digital in terms of data availability.    Nielsen plans to convert all of their diary markets to continuous measurement, but when and what is included in the continuous measurement depends on what type of diary measurement is currently used in the market.   Currently Nielsen uses diaries to measure listening in medium to small markets either 4x or 2x per year.    Each survey period occurs over 12 weeks with participants recording their listening over the course of a week.  

Nielsen plans to start continuous measurement in the middle of 2019 with the 47 markets that are measured 4x per year (i.e. Rochester, NY).  The first continuous measurement survey will be the July 2019 survey released in August and every month thereafter.   Nielsen isn’t changing the survey length (12 weeks/3 months) that is being currently used, but now the new surveys will be a 3-month rolling average. This is no different than the Arbitrends that are currently available in these markets between the 4 major surveys EXCEPT that these will now be currency.   Essentially Nielsen will be releasing a new 3-month rolling average each month.

To get a better understanding of what is meant by a rolling average lets compare the months included in the Spring 2019 survey to what will be in the July 2019 survey.  The Spring 2019 survey consists of the months of April-May-June 2019.  The July 2019 survey will consist of May-June-July 2019, which drops the April month from the Spring survey and adds the current month of July.  This pattern will then be followed each month … drop the oldest month and add the current month to the rolling 3-month average.  

Screenshot 2019-02-12 17.53.20 

 Why will continuous measurement be better than the current measurement?

  • Continuous measurement should provide more estimate stability from month to month since we will be seeing the data much more frequently.
  • Continuous measurement should detect market changes (format, personality, major market event, etc.) more quickly now.
  • Continuous measurement will make these markets more attractive to agencies and advertisers since new surveys will be available every month.   They won’t have to wait 3 to 6 months for updated data on market conditions or to see how stations selected in a campaign performed.

The markets that are currently measured 2x per year will convert to continuous measurement at a later date.    Their survey will either be a 6-month rolling average or a 12-month rolling average depending on current diary measurement.    

Ideally, once Nielsen converts all the diary markets to continuous measurement they should seriously consider including them in their Local Media Impact tool that agencies and advertisers can use to plan the media channels for their campaigns.   Nielsen just added 25 Portable People Meter (PPM) markets to their Local Media Impact tool in 2018, which finally gave agencies and advertisers the ability to compare radio’s impact to television’s on a local market basis for the first time.      

One concern about the roll-out of this conversion to continuous measurement is how the 3rd party processors (i.e. Freewheel and Mediaocean) will handle the labeling of these surveys to make it easier for users to identify what they entail.  Currently these two systems are using different labels, which has caused some confusion during the negotiation process.

 Ultimately, this is a great first step to bring radio measurement on par with other media measurement.  

Shaunagh Guinness is the Senior Vice President of Station Solutions, the team responsible for driving positioning solutions for Katz Media Group’s 4000+ Radio and TV station partners nationwide.