MRC: VAB Incorrectly Represents Nielsen Undercounting

The characterization of the Media Rating Council’s analysis of Nielsen’s pandemic-affected undercounting of linear TV viewers by the VAB, the national TV ad trade group, isn’t a correct "representation," according to the MRC.

A report by the VAB this week that cited undercounting with out-of-home TV viewing made references to the MRC, the media measurement certification group, making an “adjustment factor" when it came to the linear TV undercounting over the March 2020 to May 2021 period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One slide in the VAB’s presentation said: “MRC confirms COVID-related undercounting, due to panel maintenance issues, issues first-ever adjustment factor.”

This is not correct, the MRC says.

For the better part of a year -- March 2020 to March 2021 -- Nielsen was unable to service its national TV panel of approximately 40,000 households, due to pandemic restrictions. The VAB said this resulted in undercounting of TV impressions.

Then, in May 2021, the MRC issued its own analysis of Nielsen data issues, but just for one month -- February 2021.



It said Total Usage of Television (TUT) by persons 18-49 was understated about 2% to 6%. It also said Persons Using Television (PUT) estimates among the persons 18-49 group was understated 1% to 5%.

“February 2021 was chosen as the subject of the analysis at the time because MRC believed it represented the period at which the potential COVID-related impacts to Nielsen’s panels were at their peak,” the MRC said in a release.

It added: “The figures MRC published in May 2021 were presented simply as estimates of ratings understatements that MRC believed occurred in the single month of February 2021.”

1 comment about "MRC: VAB Incorrectly Represents Nielsen Undercounting".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 27, 2022 at 12:05 p.m.

    The MRC's move to clarify its position on the "undercounting" of audiences stands in stark contrast to some of the wild claims being made about what actually happened ---and the alleged amounts of ad dollars "lost" by the sellers. It's about time that the pressure campaign eased up against Nielsen and we move forward. Yes, Nielsen should have anticipated a loss of control over its rating panel  during the height of the pandemic's first wave. But failure to show increased viewing can't be blamed for underdelivery in the previous upfront sale---which included February 2021----unless the sellers overestimated---and over promised ----GRPs to upfront buyers.As for scatter, would buyers have paid more if the ratings were expected to be slightly higher?Maybe. So yes, things could have been handled better---but the sky didn't fall either.

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