Madison Avenue Calls On Nielsen To Address Diaries, Billions In Local TV Ad Buys At Stake

As Nielsen begins implementing some of the biggest changes to its TV ratings methods since the introduction of the people meter, the world’s biggest media buyers say the researcher is ignoring a vital part of the mix that is putting billions of TV advertising dollars at risk: the paper-and-pencil diary that is still the currency for most of America’s local TV markets.

In a white paper being released this morning, the American Association of Advertising Agencies is calling on Nielsen to take immediate steps to address the eroding performance of its diary sample, which will still be the basis for billions of dollars in local TV buys -- even after Nielsen implements its other methodological changes, some of which are intended to improve local TV audience measurement.



The white paper characterizes 4As members as being “cautiously optimistic” about those changes, which include controversial modeling techniques that will estimate audiences in non-people meter markets based on data from people meter markets, but said they still need to be assessed by the industry and validated and accredited by industry self-regulatory ratings watchdog, the Media Rating Council. Assuming that happens, the 4As task force says audience ratings in more than half of all TV markets will still be dependent on paper diaries, which are growing increasingly unstable and unreliable due to the hyper-fragmentation of TV viewing options.

“The diary was designed decades ago, when the media environment was not nearly as complex as it is today,” Jon Cogan, director of investment research and insights at Omnicom’s Annalect unit, told MediaDailyNews during an advanced briefing on the white paper. Cogan, who is co-chair of the 4As task force, said that assuming Nielsen successfully implements its other proposed changes, more than half of all TV markets will still depend on diaries.

Brad Adgate, the task force’s other co-chair and the primary author of the white paper, noted that there is a law of diminishing returns for local TV audience measurement, because the smallest TV markets represent disproportionately lower shares of TV viewing and TV ad buys, but it will still represent “billions of dollars,” making it bigger than many digital media that are getting far more audience measurement attention.

“The story is that there have been a lot of initiatives in audience measurement in the past year, particularly in digital media, but the local TV diary is still the currency for measurement for billions of dollars and we just want Nielsen to know there’s a need to improve this, even while they are focusing on improving other things,” Adgate explained.

In particular, Adgate said the task force recommends that Nielsen implement relatively simple steps to boost “cooperation rates” and lower “non-response bias” in diary-only markets. While those steps -- things as simple as issuing more diaries per market -- may not be complex, they likely would cost Nielsen more money to implement and come at a time when its organization is focused on bigger fish, so the 4As is pushing Nielsen to keep its eye on the local TV marketplace ball.

“Nielsen should do these things simultaneously,” he said.

Currently, the task force estimates Nielsen’s diary methods impact about $7.5 billion in local TV advertising buys. Even after Nielsen completes other proposed changes, Adgate estimated that more than half of all TV markets will still rely on diary ratings, putting billions of dollars at risk at a time when advertisers and agencies are shifting to digital media anyway.

Both Cogan and Adgate conceded that eventually, the diary will have to be replaced by a better method capable of estimating the current and future TV viewing environment, but in the meantime, there are some simple steps that can be taken to boost the existing diary method.

“It’s a paper and a pencil,” noted Adgate, adding: “It’s not going to take a lot of money to improve it. There are a lot of improvements that can be done simply by recruiting more of the hard-to-reach respondents.”
24 comments about "Madison Avenue Calls On Nielsen To Address Diaries, Billions In Local TV Ad Buys At Stake".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 3, 2015 at 8:30 a.m.

    No one can defend the diary form of measurement for TV, or radio, for that matter, so the 4As position is certainly correct. The only problem, is the fact that most national spot dollars are concentrated in the major 'metered" markets, not many mid-sized and, especially, the smaller ones, so one wonders whether the agencies and their clients will change their TV spot spending habits dramatically, to include more TV markets, if Nielsen "addresses" the problem of faulty diary ratings. Somehow, I doubt it. Also, how much more are the agencies willing to pay to get meter ratings in all markets?I suspect that the answer is---- nothing. And what about larger samples in all markets, including the larger markets, where most national spot dollars are spent? The meter panels in these markets are tiny, compared to the national peoplemeter panel. Isn't this a problem as well? Again, I ask, how much more are the agencies willing to pay for meaningfully larger sample sizes in all markets, including the major cities? Since the answer is, nothing or, to be charitable, not much, who gets to pay the cost for improving local market rating measurements? Let me guess.'s the stations. The question then arises, whether greatly increasing the amount the stations pay for "better" ratings---and I'm all for that-----will pay out in terms of more time sales, hence ROI? One wonders what the answer might be. Or does one?

  2. Virginia Suhr from Lobo & Petrocine Marketing, March 3, 2015 at 8:47 a.m.

    It would make sense for Nielsen to develop a digital version of the "paper diary" where people could log onto an app or website in real time. They could provide incentives to be a Nielsen Family in addition to the small cash remuneration. Win prizes or trips from major sponsors. Get coupons. Earn points towards movies, restaurants or gift certificates. This way Nielsen could also keep the cost lower for agencies and stations, since they could charge to be a "sponsor" on the Nielsen diary website.

    If Nielsen can't create there own digital survey system, they could partner with a company that already does so.

  3. David Frogel from AnchorOps Inc., March 3, 2015 at 9:03 a.m.

    Kudos to Agate and Cogan on a well articulated argument for change in measuring local TV. The existing paper and pencil method not only lacks precision, but it's totally inefficient for the diary authors and Nielsen. Process inefficiency leads to errors, work-arounds and fudging, which is perilous given volume attributed to local media.

    @Ed Papazian, the stations just may have to pay for the change or risk the further devaluing of their offerings. If agencies and brands can't trust the measurement, media that is perceived to be more accurately measured will become even more appealing.

    While there may be real costs associated with training and ongoing maintenance of a new platform for Nielsen to administer, the cost of computing - hardware and software development - have never been more attractive for large-scale implementations such as this one.

    The fear in declining ratings being more obvious, as pointed out in the paper, is probably the greatest obstacle to change.

    As the authors point out, continued investment in paper and pencil is a waste of resources. Joe, thanks for giving the white paper the attention it deserves.

  4. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, March 3, 2015 at 10:03 a.m.

    When is the industry going to address the real fundamental problem with media measurement in the US - unregulated monopolies? Until "we" put Joint Industry Committees, JICs, in place in the US like the rest of the world (they are perfectly legal here - talk to any knowledgeable anti-trust lawyer!), we will continue to have generally mediocre audience research at egregious costs without any meaningful controls.
    Regarding the spot TV measurement issue, as a Blue Ribbon Media Post panel unequivocally agreed not that long ago, Spot TV measurement in the US has been broken for 30 years! So when are the 4As, the ANA and TVB going to establish the Spot TV Measurement JIC and really address this apaling situation?

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 3, 2015 at 10:35 a.m.

    David, speaking from a national advertising point of view, one has to look at the relative trade-offs. With this in mind, how "wrong" are the diaries? In other words, are national advertisers----who are not big spenders in most diary markets to begin with----making disastrously bad buys in those markets due to the errors in the diary measurements? For example, if an advertiser, who is beefing up his GRPs in Podunk by 25 points a week, while delivering 200 GRPs a week with a national "umbrella" effort on the broadcast TV networks, cable and syndication, really being misled by the local diaries to the point where his actual spot buy delivery is only 5GRPs---too little---or 50GRPs---too much? Having looked at many cases where meters replaced diaries in the larger markets, I doubt that either of these scenarios would be typical. More likely would be that a 25GRP add-on could turn out to be a 28-30 GRP add-on, as the meters usually find that the diaries under report set usage to varying degrees. Of course, there are variations by station type and program content. But, even when a major rating understatement occurs, as often happens for off-network sitcoms aired in the early or late fringe hours, we're probably talking about a diary finding that a sitcom telecast garnered a 1.1 rating while the meters, had they been used, would have shown a 1.7 rating. To the station, this is a huge 55% increase, but to the advertiser, who is trying to add 25 GRPs locally under a 200GRP national TV overlay, one can question whether it really matters all that much? In the hypothetical case I outlined, if the national part of the media plan actually delivered 200GRPs in Podunk and the intent was to add 25 more in this market, would the fact that the 25 add-on points might really be 30 or, perhaps, only 20, make a difference in the larger scheme of things? I doubt it. You also mentioned the possibility that advertisers, who lacked confidence in the TV ratings, might go elsewhere. But where would that be? To magazines, Newspapers, radio? Not likely. Maybe you mean to digital? Perhaps this might happen if local advertisers were really under the impression that their spot TV ad dollars were being wasted because of the deficiencies in TV diary measurement----but I doubt it.To sum up, I agree that in a perfect world, I'd much rather have TV set usage monitored by meters than by household diary keepers. No doubt about it. But when the problem at hand is focused on small to mid-sized markets, which is not where many national ad dollars are invested, one has to ask is the proposed added cost worth it for the stations who must bear most or all of the cost?

  6. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, March 3, 2015 at 2 p.m.

    Many of us are quite interested in the opportunity that better audience measures in local markets may represent to bring more advertisers dollars in them via programmatic. If we can identify audiences in markets that are under-delivered via national TV and that we can buy more efficiently than we can now via programmatic and provide additional reach to a campaign, then it is win-win all around. Of course the operative question is "if" and this can only be demonstrated with better audience measures by market. Perhaps a consortium of smaller markets and automation platforms (i.e. Wide Orbit) can fund the audience measure initiative and rattle complacent cages.

    National is an efficiency driven default for most advertisers and the relative inefficiency of local coupled with suspect ratings has doomed the smaller markets. Maybe now the tail can wag the dog and take advantage of varied market performance, automation and better data to make new markets.

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 3, 2015 at 3:52 p.m.

    Dorothy and Tony, I feel your pain. However, in a quest for better local market TV rating measurements, I think that we should follow the money. The real problem is the tiny sample sizes used in the largest metered markets, where so many spot dollars are concentrated and where the stations are very profitable and, therefore, can afford to pay for larger samples. Recent increases of a few hundred homes per market in the larger cities may sound like a big deal but, in reality, they are a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. Would we tolerate a national peoplemeter panel of 800-1000 homes? Of course not. So why are we accepting this for a large TV market's meter sample and focusing our attention on getting rid of diaries in poor little Podunk? Even if the stations in Podunk were convinced to donate all of their meager profits to the cause of switching from diaries to a handful of meter homes---say, 200, as a goal----would this really be a quantum leap forward for spot TV ad sales? So, if we want to upgrade local market TV ratings---and I'm all for that----start from the top and work down, not the other way around.

  8. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 3, 2015 at 5:31 p.m.

    To The Readers Of MediaPost Publications:
    If Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in the category of Media & Marketing Journalism, then a Pulitzer should be awarded to Mr. Joe Mandese, the Editor in Chief of MediaPost.
    Mr. Mandese not only seeks to cover the entire spectrum of Media & Marketing News thoroughly, but also he pays attention to the small, but critical details like Advertising and Media Research.
    The above story is yet another example of the fine reporting one can find in MediaDailyNews and elsewhere in the MediaPost Portfolio. Good luck finding real news elsewhere in presented in such a complete and timely manner. Even ahead of the curve!
    As for awards to thoughtful commentators and op-ed writers, then most certainly Ed Papazian of Media Dynamics, Inc. should be lauded for his integrity, principles, working knowledge and vast shared experience. He is generous with his time and wisdom.
    Thank you very much, Joe Mandese and Ed Ppapzian.
    Without the dedicated editor and the caring reader, this entire MAD Game would be a hollow and sad experience.
    Your work is meaningful and our work in this business sector means a great deal to the US and Global Economy.
    Onwards & upwards!
    Nicholas P. Schiavone
    Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC

  9. John Grono from GAP Research, March 3, 2015 at 9:33 p.m.

    I echo Tony's call for a JIC. Here in Australia we measure we measure 24 markets with PeopleMeters. The service is owned by the broadcasters, but the operation is a JIC. There are actually two services - one owned by the Metropolitan commercial broadcasters, the other owned by the Regional commercial broadcasters. The other broadcasters, media agencies and advertisers (i.e. the other subscribers) don't have any skin in the game (which is mainly financially under-writing the service), but they have seats at the table on the two Research Committees which define the parameters to the service and changes to it as the marketplace changes. It was a little bit of a bumpy start to the JIC but we all got over that. We get in the room, have a few stoushes, sort out right from wrong, monitor the panels, determine Gold Standard algorithms, do longitudinal panel analyses etc. At the end of the day we agree (99% of the time) on what is best for the industry and then get on with it. I, like Tony. strongly commend a similar model. It doesn't mean companies like Nielsen won't be involved (they are in Australia), but it means that the decision making is a tripartite industry-wide decision = No Surprises. Cheers.

  10. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 4, 2015 at 12:07 a.m.

    The Best Joke Of 2015 To Date: "Gold Standard algorithms" per John Grono. But wait a minute, I forgot to give back Harry Potter's Magic Wand. You know ... the one made by Ollivander out of holly with a Phoenix Feather core. If USAJIC, Nielsen Media Research and Data Insight Mavens can't get Modeled Audience Attribution in the National Panel Expansion to work, perhaps one could consider Golden Algorithms or Magic Wands? And Tony Jarvis could lend some Olympics' spirit, "because it's a movement and we all need one ... every day!" (Did the IOC really approve that corporate name, TJ? Can I get a waiver too? "Enquiring minds want to know." Oops. That's Print.) I'll be using the Monte Carlo Method to develop my apologies. Catcha later!

  11. John Grono from GAP Research, March 4, 2015 at 12:59 a.m.

    Typical Nick. Do you even KNOW what the Australian Gold Standard algorithm is? Well I will enlighten you because you need it. It is the algorithm to process the TV ratings so that every piece of software produces the same ratings, reach and frequency. We release the elemental data here in Australia (something most advanced countries do), and in order to write TV Ratings analysis software you have to implement the Gold Standard software (something most advanced countries do). The Gold Standard algorithm has ZERO - I repeat ZERO - to do with modelled audience. Yet again you have made a very poor assumption that it does, because it suits your case. Nick you clearly know a lot about US TV ratings, but considerably less about other countries and their systems. I have no problem with you criticising your domestic system (I would too). But do not make false assumptions and cast aspersions about other countries and systems that have tripartitely agreed to TV ratings systems designed to provide more in-depth coverage, reporting and analysis. Cheers. P.S. The Best Joke of 2015 To Date clearly rests with yourself now.

  12. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, March 4, 2015 at 8:27 a.m.

    John: Thanks for the support based on your first hand experience in JIC environments.

    Copper Bottom:
    I have always have always held you in the highest regard. So I am truly saddened by your ignorance of the significantly superior relative cost to value (quality) that JICs have achieved worlwide for media measurement across many channels.

    The situation for Spot TV programmers and advertisers in the US is no joking matter. However it does offer the opportunity to address what the late Erwin Ephron called, "The toll road that is Nielsen".

    Now lets use our joint expertise and establish "our" Spot TV JIC and deliver the value and accountability that the industry deserves!

  13. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 4, 2015 at 5 p.m.

    Dear John & Tony,
    I, too, am saddened by the studied ignorance and collective misunderstanding that this conversational tributary displays.
    My knowledge and understanding of "JIC's" and what the
    "industry deserves" transcend your assumptions and expectations. Because my learning and experience are a matter of Public Record and not PR, allow me to set the record straight for those who may not know the modern history of the US TV Research Business. As Chairman of CONTAM from 1989 to 1999, I oversaw the last industry-wide effort to develop a JIC for the United States and Canada. The project was called JICTAM and it was intended to synergistically merge the best elements of a JIC and CONTAM. [CONTAM was a Congressionally-mandated methodological research body launched in the early 60's by the three major broadcast networks in existence at the time.] It was my responsibility to invest substantial NBC/GE Capital Funds in the development of a JIC and to lead and to manage the primary research efforts of CONTAM. Simply stated, CONTAM had a two-fold mission: to understand and to improve TV audience measurement. (It is the ultimate irony that so many of Nielsen's so-called innovative technical advancements proposed in the past 5 years were so well modeled and demonstrated by CONTAM in the 1990's using the SMART Laboratory of SRI.) It was also my job as CONTAM Chairman to exercise fiduciary responsibility with tripartite legal guidance on behalf of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to make certain that their major financial investments in methodological research and JIC development were consistent with US Law and Federal Regulatory Statutes. As the distinguished Management Consultant Peter Drucker would say: CONTAM endeavored constantly "to do the right things and do things right." Ultimately, it was also my job in 1999 to bring all these good and necessary efforts to an end because of the faint-heartedness of Agencies, the indifference of Advertisers and the obduracy of Nielsen. But truth to be told, the aggrieved Networks also wimped out.

    (To be continued in next post because of MediaPost space rules.)

    Thank you very much.

    Nicholas P. Schiavone (Former Chief Research Officer of NBC/GE)

  14. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 4, 2015 at 5:03 p.m.

    (Continued from prior post to John and Tony ...)

    In sum, I do not wonder about the benefits if a JIC.
    I spent time in London being inspired and envious of BARB.
    I also spent time in Toronto, Canada and Cologne, Germany looking for "a better way" with seemingly more caring and knowledgeable research business professionals.

    In the end, what pained me more than anything was to re-learn the meaning of an aphorism that dates from 1175: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." Yes, people, like horses, will only do what they have a mind to do. "So it goes." (Kurt Vonnegut)

    Alas, I have no regrets because I tried, smart and strong. Now, it is someone else's responsibility - or perhaps no one's? For the past 15 years, all I have heard is talk and all I have seen is nonsense played out on a global scale.

    But if you all succeed in bringing a good JIC and a better measurement to bear in the USA, I shall publically salute you and send you each a bottle of the finest French Champagne (authenticity counts) in celebration of true collective wisdom and real working knowledge.

    Thank you for your attention.


    Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC
    (Former Chief Research Officer of NBC/GE)

  15. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 4, 2015 at 8:32 p.m.

    Typical John. Do you even know that Australia's "Gold Standard" is really "Land of Plenty"... the collaboration beer from Carlton & United Breweries (Champion Large Brewery), Feral Brewing Company (Champion Medium Brewery) and 2 Brothers Brewery (Champion Small Brewery)? For get JIC's and pass me a good brew. Thank you.

  16. Ted Faraone from Faraone Communications, March 8, 2015 at 5:38 p.m.

    Ed, I got a pretty good lesson in these matters working the station side, network side, buyer, and research company side.

    As I see it, Nielsen, through its acquisition of Arbitron, has the technology to replace the diaries using the Portable People Meter. The great advantage of that gadget is that it measures out-of-home viewing, such as at the office. When Arbitron tested it in Houston, it found that, contrary Nielsen, CNBC was the most watched cable TV network in daytime in the market. It barely showed up in Nielsen's home based measurement.

    The alternative for the stations is not terribly attractive. There is no other "global" currency, so to speak. So, unless they wish to rely on competitors to Nielsen, who are not universally accepted, the only real choice is to pay Nielsen a higher price.

    Broadcasters preferred having two ratings companies to one. If one of them reported inexplicably wide variations in measurement, they had the other with which to check it -- as well as SRI. The latter used "telephone coincidentals," if I remember correctly. The widespread abandonment of landlines for mobile phones has severely dented their usefulness.

    Finally, one has to consider the logical conclusion of targeted marketing: Advertising a mass produced product ultimately to an audience of one. Admittedly that is an exaggeration, but I did not coin it. A well known guy in the music industry, whose name I forget, did. I suspect that "programmatic" buying could lead us down that slope a lot faster than our traditional person-to-person methods. It is worth noting that when I worked in advertising technology fifteen years ago, the main objection that buyers and sellers had to our product was that they feared that it would eliminate their personal interaction. Really, it did not. It just left an online "paper trail" which could easily be integrated with traffic departments and with data supplied by the likes of Nielsen and Donovan. We were selling it as a labor-saving device that would improve efficiencies on both sides.

    To a certain extent, all broadcast advertising should have an aspirational element. That is to say that the message should reach not only the target market but also those who may become consumers of the product. It's like showing a Cadillac commercial to a young person who drives a five-year-old Ford.

  17. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 9, 2015 at 5:36 a.m.

    Ted, you make some interesting points, however, I should caution, again, about the relative importance and ability to pay of stations in major markets versus those in smaller cities. While the former make huge profits and can bear the added costs of electronic measurements, so far, they have resisted supporting the added expense of the truly larger samples that are needed in their areas. As I said, a few hundred extra panel homes in a major metered market is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. And these are the markets where most spot dollars are spent. As for stations in smaller markets, many of these operate at barely above break-even or at a loss. They can't afford to pay a lot more for their ratings----even if the new meter sample sizes are held to ridiculously low levels. Regarding the portable peoplemeter---or ppm----yes, it can handle out-of-home, but I have serious questions about the veracity of this measurement, which assumes that the person wearing/carrying the device is "watching" whenever a silent electronic signal is "heard"by the ppm. At least, the peoplemeter system requires the "viewer" to indicate that he is "watching" when a new channel tune in situation arises---the ppm system does not. So far, there has been no effort ---- as far as I am aware---to validate the ppm system's "viewing" levels, in particular, those of the out-of-home variety. I suspect that these may significantly overstate the extent of viewing, but am eagerly awaiting a truly impartial validation study to learn more on this subject.

  18. John Grono from GAP Research, March 9, 2015 at 8:56 a.m.

    Ed, you are correct regarding active validation of PPMs as opposed to being 'within earshot'. There is a flip side though, and that is carry rates. Anecdotal evidence says that carry rates first thing in the morning are not ideal. This is less of an issue for TV than radio due to their inverse usage levels, with radio's strength being breakfast and TV's being evenings.

  19. John Grono from GAP Research, March 9, 2015 at 5:50 p.m.

    I totally agree that parallel testing over a robust time period are absolutely essential. I'd be looking for diary+PPM (i.e. same respondent), diary/PPM AB testing (i.e. different respondents but same selection process) ... those sort of tests. I would be analysing just the raw data - no need for projections as we would be looking for differences at this stage, and no similarities. One thing with PPMs (and similar devices) is that if the respondent "fails to carry" (easily detected these days) then there is no way for the respondent to "back-fill' the missing data. Say, in the case of radio, the respondent leaves the device on a sideboard even though they had the radio on and were 'listening', then that period is removed. I'd be expecting lots lower in-tabs. Another serious issue with some of the portable measurement devices is battery life. The idea of a TV panel is for both temporal and longitudinal measurement (to calculate campaign reach and frequency) which means that the device has to be easily rechargeable and with inbuilt GSM data transmission (which some don't have), And before people jump in and say ... what about an app on my mobile phone ... yes we are a long way down the track on that as well but the 'self-selection' issue is a big issue.

  20. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 9, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

    I remain professionally grateful for the leadership & inspiration of Ed Papazian. He raises the quality of methodological discussion to a experienced, realistic & principled level. Thank you.
    Onwards & Upwards!
    Nicholas P. Schiavone
    PS: Thanks to MediaPost for providing a first class forum.
    It is dialogue that occurs no where else that I know.

  21. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 9, 2015 at 7:33 p.m.

    Thanks for that, Nick. It's appreciated.

  22. Ted Faraone from Faraone Communications, March 9, 2015 at 8:38 p.m.

    Ed, I largely agree with you regarding the inability of small-market stations to pay higher fees for ratings. And you are quite correct about the question of viewer engagement with the PPM.

    I prefer it to the wand for these reasons. It measures exposure to a signal and with adaptors it can measure such exposure on almost any device with an audio component -- be it smart phone, tablet, computer, or Apple wristwatch. Broadcasters would not be spending money on TV Everywhere if there were no Everywhere beyond the traditional TV screen to measure.

    Now, Nielsen has long used members of its national sample to beef up its Local People Meter (LPM) samples. It used to do the same thing with the Audimeter way back when. Perhaps some of those nationally measured homes in small markets can be the seed of electronic measurement therein?

    When Arbitron introduced the PPM, it found that it needed sample sizes about twice those of Nielsen's LPM in order to get reliability. It was due to all those additional devices (such as TVs in offices) that the LPM doesn't measure. The more "platforms" we have for TV and the bigger the bandwidth for them becomes, the bigger the sample will have to be to get a measure of reliability.

    In theory, the PPM can be adapted to prompt the viewer or listener (It was invented primarily as a device to measure radio listening, a notoriously tricky proposition) in the same way that Nielsen's wand does. Nielsen now owns the technology, and I have no idea how they want to develop it. Of course, the Audimeter had the same problem. It recorded whatever signal the TV set got whether or not the viewer had gone to sleep.

    Perhaps small market stations could someday pool their resources in this matter? It would certainly give them an arrow that they do not now have in their quiver.

  23. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 10, 2015 at 5:43 a.m.

    Ted, I had some interesting discussions with various Arbitron people about ten years ago regarding introducing prompts to their ppm system, so panel members who carried/wore the devices would have to affirm that they were, indeed, listening and/or viewing when an audio signal was "heard". They were not interested, not because this might create too great a burden on the panel members, causing problems in keeping their cooperation, but, as far as I could tell, because they didn't see any need for it. I think that this attitude----that anything electronic is superior to obtaining information from humans--as with diaries----was the primary reason. In my opinion, the reliance in electronic measurement has gone way overboard. Some things can't be measured to full effect by meters and similar devices. Perhaps Nielsen should revisit the idea of prompts with its ppms and test the waters regarding cooperation rates.

  24. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 10, 2015 at 6:07 p.m.

    "We are drowning in Data and thirsty for Information."
    -Information technology proverb

    Dear Ed,
    Thank you for holding together a crucial dialogue that threatens to become unmanageable at almost every turn.

    I find most of the commentary -- other than yours -- to be an engagement with history and technology in a manner that is irrelevant, misguided and mistaken.

    In the simplest of terms, the Research of Everything (ROE) like the IOE (Internet of Everything) is at best "precious" hyperbole and at worst, dangerous illusion. If people act based on beliefs, then dangerous actions will flow from a dangerous belief like the ROE.
    In many realms of human endeavor and experience, it's OK not to have it all -- especially when it is impossible. Whether the obstacle is our finite nature or our limited tools, that just the way life is. One would do better to define objectives in a limited manner and achieve all that is possible in that context with excellence. One can discover the universal through the particular. However, omniscience is not an option.

    I think T.S. Eliot pre-saged the ultimate struggles of "The Information Age" and the "structural" problems inherent in the DIKW Pyramid when in he wrote:

    "The endless cycle of idea and action,
    Endless invention, endless experiment,
    Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
    Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
    Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
    All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
    All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
    But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
    Where is the Life we have lost in living?
    Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
    Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" (The Rock (1934))

    Alas, “every increase in knowledge requires an increase in wisdom” (Bertrand Russell) which is why confusion in this domain reigns supreme, at least for now.

    Onwards & upwards.

    Nicholas P. Schiavone
    Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC

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