Nielsen Finds Slight Improvement In Button-Pushing Compliance, Addressing Multi-Viewer Problem With 'Urgency'

Nielsen Monday updated clients on its ongoing efforts to measure the button-pushing compliance of people in its people meter-based TV ratings system. The update, which was based on an "in-panel" study conducted in April, was implemented before Nielsen initiated a "Compliance Improvement Program" last summer, which is intended to boost compliance rates higher, but the findings indicate no deterioration and even a slight improvement in the overall compliance among Nielsen's people meter panelists.

The in-panel study is somewhat controversial, in that it contacts people who are active participants in Nielsen's TV ratings panel to find out if they are pushing their buttons correctly, something some researchers feel could influence their behavior, and the outcome of the ratings research. But Nielsen said it is fielding these studies periodically with the full knowledge and cooperation of its clients and "industry groups."

Like past studies, the April research indicates relatively high "agreement rates" between Nielsen's people meter ratings panels and the behavior reported in the validation studies, which contact people by phone and ask them what they are watching on TV. The April study, the fourth conducted so far, yielded an overall agreement rate of 90.31% vs. an average of 88.97% for all four waves.



As in previous studies, certain households, especially those with Hispanic and African American members, or those in which there are multiple viewers to a single set, tend to have lower overall compliance rates.

The multiple viewer phenomenon has proved especially vexing for Nielsen researchers, because the more people present in front of a set, the lower the compliance rate.

"While we see some improvement in April 2009, there continues to be less compliance in situations where there are multiple viewers to a single set, confirming previous findings," Nielsen said in a notice sent to clients on Monday. "This is being addressed with urgency in our remediation program."

1 comment about "Nielsen Finds Slight Improvement In Button-Pushing Compliance, Addressing Multi-Viewer Problem With 'Urgency'".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, September 22, 2009 at 10:14 a.m.

    We have conducted such studies here in Australia every quarter for many years. We're achieving slightly higher rates into the low 90s (and interestingly finding on occasions that a "mismatch" occurs because the respondent nominates incorrect channel/programme combination which counts as an "error"). Most calls are made as part of other panel-home contact during that quarter, but in some cases a special call needs to be made. We've seen no evidence of either reduced co-operation or data contamination over this long period of time. Such studies are essential.

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