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If Radio Doesn’t Trust Nielsen’s Rankers Should You? – Digital Gabe
Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

If Radio Doesn’t Trust Nielsen’s Rankers Should You?

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This morning I got a kick out of this guest author piece in Radio Ink questioning the validity of Nielsen’s market rankers for radio stations in a given Metro area.  The gist of the article is that Nielsen’s margin of error range for their ratings estimates is larger than the fractional difference between stations’ AQH Ratings.  Nielsen itself declares the potential for ranker inaccuracy in its own fine print.  According to Chapter 16 of Nielsen’s Local Radio Syndicated Services Description of Methodology, “Clients should be mindful that it is not possible to determine the reliability of our estimates, data, reports and their statistical evaluators to any precise mathematical value or definition.”  So much for reliable Radio ratings.

To the author’s point, the harm of clients and agencies using Nielsen’s ratings to determine a cut-off point (say top 5 stations) for their buys, is that the data to determine station rankings is fundamentally flawed.  So a station sitting at #5 on a market ranker with a .7 AQH Rtg may be no better or worse than the #6 station with a .6 AQH Rtg.  Yet station #5 makes the buy while station #6 gets left off.  This must be frustrating for broadcasters who are living and dying by tenths of ratings points every time Nielsen publishes its rankers.  Makes you wonder (again) why Radio puts up with Nielsen’s inferior measurement system for their industry.


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