Nielsen’s Colossal LA Screw Up
Every once in a while Nielsen recalls monthly ratings “books” for individual markets because of some hiccup with the data they get from respondents. This could be something silly like a Personal People Meter (PPM) registering non-stop listening for days straight because it’s sitting in a room with the radio on, or something more dubious like a radio station employee getting a PPM in their household and intentionally jacking the numbers.
When a recall happens Nielsen typically reissues one month’s ratings, which isn’t a huge deal. However, when Nielsen reissues seven months of ratings in LA, that’s a different story altogether. That’s exactly what occurred yesterday when Nielsen announced it was reissuing LA metro ratings for a seven month period from Oct’17 through Apr’18. That means at least some of the ratings LA radio stations have been using to sell ad inventory for the past seven months were incorrect. Given the time of year this covers, holiday ad buys through 2018 annuals, this snafu could have easily affected pricing on $300-400M dollars worth of LA radio inventory. Talk about a mess to straighten out!
While LA stations will have to clean up any discrepancies once the new ratings are issued, the broadcasters are innocent victims here. The real villain is Nielsen who has once again demonstrated major shortcomings of its radio measurement system. How could anyone believe in these guys anymore?