In a letter to clients dated 11/17, Sabrina Crow, Nielsen SVP, Managing Director Local Media Client Services explained that the television ratings company has received notification that the Media Rating Council (MRC) has withdrawn accreditation for its 154 Diary-only measurement service retroactive to the 2009 audit period. Why? In the transition to Address-Based Sampling, she explained that they underestimated their targeted sample size, in two of the four measurement periods. “But since November 2009 we have consistently delivered on our targets. Because we now have more experience with Address-Based Sampling, we have demonstrated improvement in the delivery of our key quality metrics and met our targets for 2010.”
Nielsen spokesman Gary Holmes confirmed with RBR-TVBR that some of the problem resulted from Nielsen shifting its recruitment methods in diary markets. With so many cellphone-only households, the company opted for address-based recruiting of Nielsen homes in its diary markets instead of the traditional method of selecting by phone number. This resulted in sample sizes coming up short in two quarters last year.
So for now Nielsen plans to remove representation for the accreditation of its Diary Ratings reports until its regain accreditation for the Diary service, which it expects to be forthcoming soon, said the letter.
The decision affects the smaller TV markets, of course, because the larger markets employ Local People Meters and set-top meters. So it does not affect the LPM or Set Meter / Diary markets, which continue to be MRC-accredited.
Of course, an industry potentially impacted by such a move is the television rep biz. Val Napolitano, Petry Media CEO, tells RBR-TVBR: “It is vitally important to have accurate and reliable audience data for mid to small market television stations. It is hopeful that the pressures of the marketplace will expedite a quick reaccrediation by the MRC.”
Another television industry source tells us while this is an important issue, it will likely not last very long and will not upset Nielsen’s currency status: “This is not a problem. We use Arbitron PPM and that’s unaccredited.”
MRC CEO George Ivie issued a statement on the matter (click on the PDF in the top right corner of this story to read, in full). Ivie said Nielsen has resubmitted its NSI (Nielsen Station Index) Service for a new MRC audit this year, the results of which will be considered by an audit committee for an accreditation recommendation. “The MRC looks forward to continuing work with Nielsen to be able to reinstate accreditation of the NSI Diary-Only Markets in the future,” he said.
Ivie did note that the MRC is supportive of address-based sampling.
See the entire letter, below:
November 17, 2010
Dear Nielsen Client:
The Nielsen Company has received notification that the Media Rating Council (MRC) has withdrawn accreditation for our Diary-only measurement service effective with the 2009 audit period. As such, we plan to remove representation for the accreditation of our Diary Ratings reports until we regain accreditation for the Diary service, which we expect will be forthcoming soon. This move does not affect the LPM or Set Meter / Diary markets, which continue to be accredited by the MRC.
We remain committed as ever to the markets served by our Diary service and we continue to make significant investments in developing and investing in a range of measurement options and improving existing solutions. As a result of these investments, our current diary service reflects significant advancement as compared to previous years when the service received MRC accreditation. One example is the upgrade of our methodology through the introduction of Address-Based Sampling in 2009 to include the more than 30% of the population that either has only a cell phone or does not have a telephone at all, thereby ensuring a broader, more diverse and more representative sample.
In the transition to Address-Based Sampling, we underestimated our targeted sample size, in two of the four measurement periods, but since November 2009 we have consistently delivered on our targets. Because we now have more experience with Address-Based Sampling, we have demonstrated improvement in the delivery of our key quality metrics and met our targets for 2010.
We acknowledge and understand the challenges that a Diary-based methodology faces in today’s television environment. However, the Diary allows for television measurement in markets where the industry has concluded metered measurement is not economically feasible. Nevertheless, we know that clients desire an improved measurement system in these markets and we will continue to work closely with MRC, our clients and the industry to develop innovative alternatives and potential electronic options to Diary-only measurement.
We remain committed to the MRC process and will work closely with the MRC Staff and our clients on obtaining reaccreditation for our services and on long-term improvement in all our audience measurement services.
SVP, Managing Director
Local Media Client Services